Once upon a time there was a princess who loved peas so much she kept one in her bed. I cannot tell you how excited she was when she found out that she could put it in her mouth too…
I’ve been sitting here for about a week trying to figure out how to make Pea and Ham Soup sexy and it isn’t easy. I hope you appreciate the start of this. It’s the best I could come up with.
Some things are so honestly, straight-forwardly good they just don’t need sexing up, maybe that’s the answer. And if there are such things, this is one of them, the best version of this I’ve ever tried.
1 smoked ham hock. Go to the trouble of getting a good one, there is a vast difference in quality from one to another.
Bouquet garni of parsley, thyme and bay leaf
Quite a lot of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium-sliced onion, thinly sliced
a garlic clove or two finely chopped or crushed
carrot, perhaps one large or two small, peeled and finely sliced
1 cup of split peas. My recipe from The Best of Supercook Soups and Stews tells me they should be soaked overnight, but I don’t see any need for this. Both yellow and green work well.
In a stock pot with a couple of litres of water, put in the ham hock, bouquet garni and black pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer for a couple of hours. The meat should be falling off the bone. By the way, if it is large, ask the butcher to cut the hock into a couple of pieces. I think the bone will impart more flavour that way.
Remove pan from the heat, take out the ham hock.
In a separate pan melt the butter over moderate heat and add onion, garlic and carrots, stirring for five or more minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. DO NOT BROWN!! Add the peas and stir for 5 or so minutes. Unite them with the ham hock liquid and bring to the boil again. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for a couple of hours. The peas should be very soft. Cool for a few minutes and then puree as you please. With a stick bamix in my case. Add more water if too thick. If too thin, reduce by leaving lid off and simmering.
Cut the meat into fine pieces and return to the pot. When everything is well-heated but not boiling, serve.
Need I add: lots of toast, generously buttered on the side?
If you are looking for a prince, surely you will get him with this.
Freeze in portions for easy reheating at a later date.