Did you know that, I detest peas? I can never eat my fried rice straight away, because I’d always spend around 5 minutes picking every single pea out of my bowl (oh how I use to dream of spoon-flicking these bad boys at unsuspecting diners). On the other hand, cook their legume brothers with pork, pulverise it into a seductively murky algae-esque soup and you’ll have me beaming and panting for more. I love how pork makes everything magical. That’s the lesson that I learnt from a very young age.
Ok so pea soup! Homely, classic, retro and easy-peasy (heh). Traditionally this soup was made from yellow split peas to represent the infamous yellow fogs of Victorian London from which it was nicknamed after (“London Particular” – food history peeps. Exciting stuff. Google it). In any case, it appears my green peas are doing a fine job of yellowing it up themselves. The base consists of the holy sofritto of onion, carrot and celery (with added garlic), while the flavoursome stock stems from a giant ham hock. Scary looking thing, but delicious in its piggy aroma.
You could also use a gammon hock or leg ham bone if you wish but either way, make sure it’s meaty. Add peas, cook till tender then pulverise them suckers. A stick or immersion blender is the right tool for the job but obviously you can use a standard blender instead. But a word of warning – don’t fill the blender past a third or halfway with the soup because you know, liquids plus powerful blender equals explody mess. And that liquid is rather hot… so save your hands and a big clean up and stick a tea towel wadge over the top of the lid.
A final friendly tip:
if you are going to put a ham hock in your handbag, don’t forget it’s in there. Especially if you have to fish out your wallet. Once, (ok, maybe twice), a giant bugger of a hock fell out off my bag in front of worried-looking civilians. Decent thud it was too. Please don’t ask why I put ham hocks in my handbag.
Pea and Ham Soup
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 ham hock (around 900 g each) – the more meatier, the better
2 L of cold water
500g dried split peas, green or yellow – your choice!
In a large pot or casserole pot, sauté the veges and garlic in the butter over medium heat until tender (around 10 minutes). If they are finely chopped, then it won’t take as long.
Add the ham hock, cover with the 2L of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for around 2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling away from the bone.
Remove the ham hock with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Add the dried split peas and simmer for about an hour until it’s soft and tender.
Meanwhile, when the ham hock has cooled down, get your hands in there and start separating the meat and shredding it. Discard the skin, fat and bones.
When the split peas have cooked, blend soup with tabletop or hand blender until smooth. Add the shredded ham to the soup and serve with crusty bread.
If you wish, you could just blend half or two-thirds of the soup if you’d prefer it a tad more liquidy and with chunks of peas for more texture.