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Monday, 7 January 2013

Seasonal Recipe: Pea and Ham Soup


A ham at Christmas is part of the traditional fare in both NAH's and my family, so it's become part of our tradition too. For some reason NAH decided to come home with a smoked gammon joint which weighed nearly 3 kilos. For just the two of us!  So now seemed the appropriate time to make pea and ham soup using the stock obtained when I boiled the ham for our Sunday dinner.

The key to usable stock is to soak the ham for 24 hours with plenty of changes of water along the way (to reduce the salt - this won't affect the flavour of the cooked ham) and to not use cola (as advocated by Nigella I believe) instead of water for the final change of liquid and cooking. If you're still worried about salt levels, you could always use chicken or turkey stock or a low-sodium stock cube instead.

I've used a mixture of half and half split peas to frozen peas for the pea portion of the soup to keep costs down and to help give the final result the green colour my mental image of it demanded. You could use 100% of either if you prefer - bear in mind a split yellow pea version will probably come out the colour of pease pudding. This recipe would also work with the substitution of lentils (in their various guises) or bacon as appropriate. I also used the green tops of 4 large leeks - again to help with the final colour. You could use 2 large leeks or a large onion depending on what you have to hand.

It's the use of the Christmas ham stock, leeks and comfort-food pulses which makes this a seasonal recipe, but really it's suitable for year-round if desired.

Ingredients
100g yellow split peas
250g frozen peas
750ml ham stock
4 leek tops (washed, trimmed and each one should be 3-4 inches in length)
150g ham
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Adjust accordingly depending on how much stock you actually have. This version makes 4 servings.

Method
  1. The day before making the soup, place the split peas in a bowl, cover with water and leave to soak
  2. On soup making day, skim off the fat from the surface of the ham stock
  3. Drain and rinse through the split peas then add them to the stock and start bringing it to the boil
  4. In the meantime, thinly slice the leeks and add to the stock
  5. Weigh out the frozen peas and also add to the stock
  6. Add the mixed herbs and freshly ground pepper to taste
  7. When the stock comes to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for a further 30 minutes
  8. Remove from the heat to cool
  9. Using a hand blender, blend the soup into a smooth liquid. Add a little more water if the soup is very thick, then taste and adjust seasoning if needed
  10. Chop the ham into small pieces and add to the liquid
  11. Reheat and serve
NB If the soup tastes salty, diluting it further or adding a peeled and quartered potato to the hot stock and simmering for 30 minutes can help. The potato should be removed before serving.

5 comments:

  1. Mmmm - now that sounds most tasty. Himself committed a similar crime recently when purchasing a lamb joint to take to my mum's to eat over Christmas - his idea of small is not the same as mine :)

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  2. Can't recall tasting split pea soup until joining my hub's Brit heritage family. His mum made the most wonderful soup, a revelation! Split pea it was. I think mine comes close..as does yours, but she grated carrot in hers..and it works VP. Not just the color hit, but it does taste better but don't ask me why.

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  3. Yummm...split pea soup, a favorite of mine as well. But I have always used potatoes to thicken it. From an Italian recipe, perhpas therein lies the difference. A most excellent use of left over ham too. Usually I prefer mine green too but now and then I use the yellow split peas for a yellow soup...must be my Norwegian heritage. Thanks for recipe!

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  4. Mmm, delicious, I haven’t made pea and ham soup for years! And I agree with Joan above here, the soup should be yellow, but then...I am Norwegian and we tend to have yellow pea soups not green! I am tempted to make it with fresh peas though, just to compare, will probably taste different :-) Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Anna - tee hee ;)

    Bren - the odd grated carrot goes into mine from time to time. It depends what I have to hand :)

    Joan - the split pea version will be more 'earthy' in its taste but just as good!

    Helene - it'll taste sweeter made with fresh peas. I like either version or combination in between :)

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