Thursday, January 22

Pea and ham soup

And now for something completely different! The only real downside to Jo being the preggersaurus is that she has developed somewhat of an apathy towards food. We have been lucky in that her nausea wasn't terrible, just irritating, but there isn't much that she really wants to eat. And the weirdest part is that things she will eat are sometimes things she's always despised. Pea and ham soup being an excellent example! As soon as I realised she felt like eating some I whipped up a big batch, so I thought I'd share the method here. Not a true recipe because I'm using approximate quantities (soup is fluid in more ways than one).

The soup is made in two parts. First the base (a little more hefty than stock) and then the actual soup. In this case the majority of the flavour comes from the base, and the texture from the final stage.

To start with you'll need some good smoked pork hocks/neck or bacon bones. A ham bone would work too. I found these hocks and neck bones at our local supermarket and they're usually stupidly cheap. I try to pick hocks that have a little meat on them, because I strip it out and add it to the final soup.

The idea is to simmer these for a few hours with a range of other aromatic tasties to make a rich, smokey ham stock. To mine I added garlic, celery, ginger, onion, carrots, bay leaves, some fresh herbs and dried chilies (I like a little bite in there, some back heat).

All of those go into the pot and are covered with water. Simmer it down for as long as you can, skimming off any scum. Try not to let it boil too hard because it kind of emulsifies the proteins and makes the stock muddy.

Let the soup base cool, strain out the solids (don't throw them out yet though) and skim off as much fat as you can (shouldn't have too much). Rescue the ham bones from the solids and you can throw out the rest. You want to pull off any good pieces of meat from the bones and reserve the meat, discarding the picked over bones.

Now for the fun bit. You have the soup base, now you just need the main ingredients. I use an onion (roughly chopped), some peeled baby carrots (roughly chopped), a bay leaf, the reserved meat from the bones (finely chopped), about 1 to 1.5 cups of split green peas (rinsed well and picked over for stones) and some bacon or ham. I use Canadian bacon because it is the leanest thing we can get here and it doesn't taste overly smoked. If you use streaky bacon or salt pork you'd want to cook it separately to melt off some of the excess fat. A good quality deli ham would also work really well. Finely chop the bacon. 

To make the soup you need to sweat down some onion and carrot, with a bay leaf or two, in a little butter or olive oil. Not too hot, just let them sweat for 5-10 minutes till they soften up and the onions look glassy and smell good. Add a little salt if your soup base isn't too salty, or skip it if the bones you used were well salted. Add the bacon and let it cook with the vegies for 5 minutes or so, then add the soup base, the reserved meat and the split peas. Let the whole thing simmer very gently for half an hour to an hour, or as long as it takes for the peas to become so soft they disappear when you suck them.  Add pepper (or chili) to season.

Now I like my pea and ham soup smoothish with a little texture from the meat, so at this point I blend the whole darn thing.  You can serve it right away but it is definitely better the next day. Enjoy!


Jac said...

Bother it, I still have the stupid watermarks turned on in picasa and I can't be bothered re-exporting photos of food. Oh well, someone remind me to turn that off.

Who has the pregnant brain? brb I need pickles...

Mothersupex said...

Dad would be drooling, reading about his passion, Pea and Ham Soup. Enjoy for a few days :-D

Ruthie said...

I love pea and ham soup... but have never had a home made one... how i wish i was there to taste it

Jac said...

It sounds more complex than it is to make... it's actually a lot of fun.

Big A said...

Sounds Even Better than Jeannie's version. Certainly sustaining and nourishing when you are eating for two.

Try her on potato scones!

Jac said...

Must admit we've had a couple of batches of potato scones. It worries me when she doesn't want potato!!

Matt said...

Well, you know where to find me (soon to be 1333) if you feel like cooking up some grub and the said beloved is not up to eating it :D