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Pea and ham soup

You'll need

40 gm butter, coarsely chopped 2 onions, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 ham hocks (about 800gm each) 750 gm dried green split peas 360 gm (3 cups) frozen baby green peas, defrosted 1 baguette, halved lengthways and cut into 5cm pieces 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil   Herb butter 60 gm softened butter ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 tbsp thyme ½ garlic clove, finely chopped


  • 01
  • Heat butter in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (10-12 minutes). Add ham hocks, cover with cold water (about 4 litres), bring to the simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until ham is falling from the bone (1-1½ hours). Remove hocks from saucepan, set aside to cool and, when cool enough to handle, remove skin and bone (discard), coarsely shred meat and set aside.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, add split green peas to stock and simmer until very tender (45 minutes-1 hour). Add baby peas (reserve some for garnish if desired) and simmer until bright green (1-2 minutes). Purée in batches in a blender until smooth, add shredded ham to soup (reserve a little for garnish if desired), season to taste and keep warm.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for herb butter, combine ingredients in a small bowl, season to taste and set aside.
  • 04
  • Preheat a grill to high. Place baguette cut-side up on a baking tray and grill until golden (1-2 minutes each side), then spread with herb butter. Serve with hot soup topped with reserved baby peas (steamed until bright green) and shredded ham.
This recipe is from the August 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

There’s a particular magic that springs from the marriage of pea and pig on the stovetop. Every winter, pea and ham soup rockets to the top of our website’s most-searched list, but its appeal is nothing new. That pork-and-pulse magic is something that has been understood across many centuries and cultures. A good pea and ham soup can be as simple as split peas simmered with nothing more than a ham bone, or as luxuriant as the emerald version we’ve shot here. Either way, it’s the perfect cure for the winter blues. Eaten correctly – that is, cradled in your hands – it does double duty, warming you both inside and out. Versions of pea and ham soup are served across Europe, but perhaps its strongest association is with England. A very thick pea soup is called a London Particular, after the heavy fogs that enveloped the city in Charles Dickens’s day. At the time of its origins – some sources put them as far back as ancient Greece – the soup was testament to the scarcity of resources in the colder months. With little fresh produce available, the only option was dried legumes and salted meats, in this case split peas and smoked or salt pork.

Humble origins aside, and with a plethora of fresh produce at our disposal, it’s still one of our all-time favourites. Here we’ve tarted it up a bit and added some fresh peas (okay, fresh frozen), for their vibrant colour and sweet flavour. The pork hocks give the soup a gelatinous texture and a moreish smokiness – keep the pieces chunky for added texture. We’ve paired ours with toasted baguette, spread generously with chlorophyll-green herb butter for extra grunt. Dip in and slurp away.

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

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