Tis the season for soup, well for those of us living in Melbourne. I’m well aware my friends in the UK, Arizona and other warmer climates may just like to file this recipe for when your weather cools down a bit.
Pea and Ham soup for me is associated with cold frosty, foggy days and nights with the heater on and throw rugs abound.
I’m partial to hearty thick soups, add a crusty bread roll or some toast, ta-dah you have a satisfying meal.
Plenty of versions of pea and ham soup exist, but the two key ingredients that you must include are there in the name. The recipe I’ve written here is my standard go to based on my mother’s recipe. A good place to start if you don’t already have your own go-to method.
I start with a mirepoix (meer-pwah), or duxelle, or the italian soffritto. Carrots, onion and celery finely diced and softened on a gentle heat.
Here’s a little bit of history: mirepoix dates from the 18th century and is named after the aristocrat who employed the cook credited with establishing this technic. Ironically the aristocrat had nothing to do with creating mirepoix and probably never set foot in a kitchen or handled a raw vegetable in his life. The poor cook whose name doesn’t seem to be documented was the creative and no doubt hardworking one. I am intrigued as to how some of these well-established technics came about. The gentleman was;
Charles- Pierre-Gaston Francois de Lévis, duc de Lévis-Mirepoix (Duke of Mirepoix).
Please feel free to share this tidbit at your next dinner party if the conversation lacks, I’m sure you will impress.
The mirepoix is not absolutely necessary but does add additional depth of flavour. Some recipes are just pea and ham, I personally like to add a few extra subtle flavours.
I’m not too fussy with the size of the pieces as the soup will be going into a blender later.
Time: Overnight soak the peas + 90 minutes cooking time
- 1 small carrot
- half an onion
- half stick celery
- 2 tablespoons oil or 50 g butter
- 2 cups of dried split green peas ( soak in cold water overnight)
- 1 litre Chicken Stock or water (you may need a little more)
- 4 -6 bacon bones and /or an optional ham hock
- 3 small potatoes- peeled and diced
- salt / pepper to taste
- Place the split green peas in a bowl, the bowl needs to be at least double the size the peas require, cover with cold water. Leave overnight or around 8 hours. The peas will double in size. You can soak the peas a couple of days earlier than required, just drain and cover, storing in the fridge until required.
- In a large pot, add the carrot, celery, onion all diced with the oil or butter, a pinch of salt and cook slowly. Ensure you don’t brown or burn the mirepoix.
- After 10-15 minutes add the soaked peas and stock or water. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 30 minutes. Keep covered.
- Add the bacon bones and potatoes, simmer for another 45 minutes. You can simmer for longer, the peas should be soft. This is one of those recipes won’t ruin with longer cooking.
Keep an eye on the liquid content you may need to add more water or stock.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, remove the bacon bones.
- Place the peas and vegies in your food processor and blitz.
- Remove meat from the bones, or if you are using a ham hock remove the meat and cut into small pieces.
- Place the blitzed peas and meat back into the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes.
At this stage taste and season as you need to. I add quite a bit of black pepper. As the bones will be quite salty, be cautious with adding salt. Bought stock may also contain salt please Taste, Taste, Taste before serving.
- You can use whole dried peas, or a mixture of split and whole
- Add a cup of frozen peas for the last 15 minutes of cooking
- Add garlic or other herbs at the start of cooking