green pea and smoke ham soup

Serves: 4
Prep: 20 minutes; Cooking: 3 hours

  • 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) smoked ham hocks
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways and coarsely chopped
  • 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) good-quality vegetable stock
  • 1⁄2 garlic bulb, halved horizontally
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
  • 1⁄2 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/1⁄2 cup) white wine
  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) fresh or frozen peas
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons crème fraîche or plain yoghurt
  • mint leaves, to serve

Put hocks, leek, stock, garlic and bay leaf into a large saucepan with a lid, bring to the boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer gently for 21⁄2–3 hours, or until the meat is almost falling off the bone.

Remove the hocks carefully from the stock, using tongs, and put them in a large bowl. Strain the stock into the bowl, discarding leek, garlic and bay leaf. Leave until the hocks are cool enough to handle, then remove them from the stock and pull the meat from the bones in bite-sized shards, discarding excess fat, gristle and bones. Either discard the skin, or finely slice half or all of it and reserve it with the meat.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium–low
heat. Add the onion and cook gently until translucent
and soft, but not browned. Stir in the wine and bring to a simmer, then let it cook for about 5 minutes, or until almost completely reduced. Add the broth and bring to the boil, then add the peas and simmer for 10 minutes if the peas are fresh, or 5 minutes if frozen.

Use a hand blender to lightly blend the soup, so some peas remain whole but the soup is thicker and creamy. Add the ham meat and cook gently for 5–10 minutes with the lid off, or until the desired consistency is achieved. Test for seasoning and add a little salt if needed (the ham hocks and bacon are salty), and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the soup in individual bowls. Put a small dollop of crème fraîche or yoghurt in each bowl and swirl it through a little. Scatter over mint leaves and drizzle with extra olive oil.