My Mom is a wonderful soup maker and often made a pea soup, sans the ham, when we were growing up. When over for dinner the other night, she reminded us that she is simply not interested in cooking and who can blame her – cooking for our family all those years. So I don’t get to enjoy her soups much anymore, but about once a month I have the pleasure of enjoying some spectacular home cooked soup by Anka. When asked for the recipes, Anka shrugs and says something like, “water, a few vegetables, lentils, water and salt & pepper, and cook it for a while. I’ll keep working on it. Maybe this one will be as good as hers.
1 smoked ham hock, (about 1 lb/500 g)
1 tbsp (15 ml) vegetable oil
1 large onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1/2 tsp (2 ml) pepper
4 cups (1 L) sodium-reduced chicken stock (see below)
2 cups(500 mL) dried green split peagreen split peas or dried yellow split peas
3 green onions, thinly sliced (see below)
Using paring knife, peel off and discard skin from ham hock. Trim off and discard fat. Set aside.
In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-low heat; fry onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and ham hock, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add stock, peas and 2 cups (500 ml) water; bring to boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until peas break down and meat is tender enough to fall off hock, about 1-3/4 hours.
Remove ham hock; pull off and shred meat. Set meat aside. Discard ham bone and bay leaves. In blender, puree half of the soup; return to pot along with meat. Or use an immersion blender right in the pot after removing the ham hock. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to container and refrigerate, uncovered, until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat to serve.) Ladle into bowls; garnish with green onions.
You can use water instead of chicken stock. In fact I prefer it to store bought chicken stock. Next time you cook chicken breasts and have a few extra minutes, bone the breasts, put into a pot with a carrot an onion, cut in half, a stalk of celery,1 tsp salt (approx) a few peppercorns and cover with water. Bring to a boil on Medium high and skim off foam. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer for about an hour. I give the green onions a miss.