As it is winter at this side of the world – although the temperatures seem to have taken a turn for the better lately – I’ve been cooking lots of soups. I love making anything that just takes 20 minutes of chopping and frying, and then is happy to sit simmering on the cooker for an hour or longer, until it’s done. As a result of my interest in dried peas, beans and lentils, there’s always a cupboard full of various legumes to be incorporated into soup and one of the best soups around can be made with dried green split peas.
If you have time to soak them, this cuts down on the cooking time but, as long as you have time to let it bubble away by itself, you need not worry about this. I’ve been working from a recipe by Clare Connery for Pea and Ham Soup and good it is too. Best served on a cold, miserable wintery day with some well-buttered slices of Brown Soda Bread on the side.
When my mother and aunt were about we made this for dinner one night, using a smoked ham hock instead of the ham bone. The following night we fished the hock out of the remnants, stripped the meat from it and made toasted ham and cheese sandwiches to accompany our mugs of second day soup. Delicious!
Pea and Ham Soup
Butter – 25g
Olive oil – 1 tablespoons
Large onion – 1, chopped
Large carrot – 1, chopped
Streaky bacon – 150g, chopped
Green split peas – 250g, soaked and rinsed
Bay leaf – 1
Smoked ham hock or ham bone – 1
Water – 1.5 litres
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and melt the butter. Fry the onion, carrot and bacon over a low heat until soft but not browned. Add the green split peas, the bay leaf, ham hock/bone and water.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for at least an hour or until the split peas have disintegrated into the liquid and there is a whole pot of green slush.
Fish out and discard the ham hock/bone and bay leaf. Season to taste and serve to people with hearty appetites.
Serves at least 2.