How to Make Pea and Ham Soup

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It’s a good soup, pea and ham soup. There’s nothing pretentious or mysterious about it, it is what it is.
Comforting, filling, packed with fibre and veggie nutrients, it’s a great recipe to have in the repertoire.

The soup mightn’t be a mystery, but the price of smoked ham hocks certainly is…since when did they cost nearly $9.00 a kilo?? Luckily for me, the deli department had just carved the meat from a very nice leg of ham and they put the bone out for sale. That was my bargain buy of the day. I got me a whopper for $4 bucks.

Ironic, isn’t it? I am constantly coming across old-school comfort foods that used to cost next to nothing and now have price tags on them that make me think I’ve gone mad AND need new glasses. Here’s a few examples off the top of my head:
Lamb shanks
Lambs fry

Crazy, these were all budget items once. I must have missed some massive food trend involving these foods: food trends make “must have”, newly rediscovered ingredients more expensive and that’s a fact.
One week, Mr & Ms consumer is tossing lamb shanks to the doggies, next week, there they are, all slow-cooked, redolent of garlic and red wine and so chic (the lamb shanks, not the doggies…)

Back to the soup.
Here’s what you need.
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500g dried, split peas
2 large carrots
2 large onions
a handful of celery, include the green leaves, they’re full of nutrients and flavour
2 bayleaves. I used fresh ones, dried are more usual, it’s just that I have a bay tree in the garden
a teaspoon or so of ground black pepper
1 ham bone, a smoked ham hock or about 1kg of bacon bones. All available from your butcher or from the deli department of the supermarket.
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Don’t bother to peel the carrots, just wash your veggies and chop the onions, celery and onions into small pieces. Don’t worry too much about trying to make them all the same shape, size etc. They do break down in the soup and become smaller.

Wash the peas well, they can be a bit “dusty.”
Put everything into your large soup pot and cover with about 2litres/10 cups of water.
Put on a high heat until the soup comes to a boil.

Skim off the scummy froth from the top and reduce the heat to a low simmer.

I think pea and ham soup is at it’s best when cooked very slowly for about 4 hours. This gives plenty of time for the veggies to break down and for all the flavour to be extracted from the ham bone.

Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick and at the end of the cooking time, check your soup for salt and pepper. Chances are, the ham will be salty enough to season the soup but, it’s your call, you might want a little more salt and maybe some more pepper too.
Some folks take the ham bone off and take the meat off to shred and add back to the soup. I don’t, too lazy. Lots of meat drops off anyway. You’ll decide what works for you.
This soup keeps well in the fridge for a few days and freezes well too.


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