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Pea and ham soup

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

By Alice Storey
  • 35 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 50 mins cooking
  • Serves 8
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Pea and ham soup
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. Different versions, [like this Dutch pea and ham soup] (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.

Ingredients

  • 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 frozen baby green peas, defrosted (3 cups)
  • 1 baguette, halved lengthways and cut into 5cm pieces
  • 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil (¼ cup)
Herb butter
  • 60 gm softened butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • ½ garlic clove, finely chopped

Method

Main
  • 1
    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.
  • 2
    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.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for herb butter, combine ingredients in a small bowl, season to taste and set aside.
  • 4
    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.
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  • undefined: Alice Storey