Monday, 18 May 2009

Ham and Pea Soup

This is a classic peasant, rustic dish which is nourishing and comforting.  Both my mother and Irish Grandmother made this,  my mum said in the 60's the butcher gave hocks away.  I love the ritual of this soup as much as the end result.  Although it may seem a dish for the colder months, it still hits the spot throughout the year.

The good thing about this soup is that you must go to a butcher or a farmers market to buy your hock, or shank.  Thus supporting our British pork industry.  Especially those who rear rare native breads.   I buy mine from Sillfield  Farm at Borough Market, where you can buy a sizeable hock for £2.95.  This is one of the cheapest cuts you can buy.  The soup is dead simple and simmers away for hours on a low heat making the home smell lovely.  

Here goes.

This will serve a really good 6 portions.
  • One ham hock (smoked or unsmoked)
  • one large onion peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery chopped small
  • 1 leek (ideally, but not essential) cleaned and chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped small
  • bayleaf, sprig of thyme, handful of parsley stalks and all (any variation or all of them)
  • 300gms green marrowfat peas (I used green, but yellow are also lovely)
  • water and seasoning
  • Sunflower oil
  1. Place the hock in water and bring to the boil and then discard the water.
  2. Fry the onion, carrot, celery, leek with the fresh herbs in oil for 5 minutes or so.
  3. Plonk the hock and peas in and add water so that the hock is just covered.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer for at least 2 and half hours.  You want the the peas to be soft and mushy.
  5. Remove the hock and allow to cool.  When cool enough to handle remove all the meat, shredding with your fingers.  Add to the pot and season to taste.  Be careful with the salt if you have used a cured hock.  
  6. Add some fresh parsley as you serve and some lovely rustic bread.  Also a jacket potato and lashings of butter will make this a fine meal.
Thank you to Anne Carter for beautiful photography.

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