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.
The appeal of this dish with humble origins is nothing new – and with these robust flavours, it’s little wonder.