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Slow Cooked Pea and Ham Soup

I stepped outside of my comfort zone today and bought a ham hock that wasn’t free ranged. Why isn’t it free ranged, I hear you ask? Because free ranged pork or ham hocks are almost impossible to source! While the hunt continues for a reliable source of free ranged pork products, I decided to do Pea and Ham Soup in the slow cooker.

I love slow cooked / crock pot recipes during winter. It’s so easy to toss ingredients into the cooker and forget about it while you go off to work only to become a champion at dinner time by presenting you with mouth-watering food. This is one such recipe.

[ SERVES: 6  |  TIME: 6 hours  |  COST: $8  ]
[  JOES’ RATING:  4  / 5  |  MY RATING:  4  / 5 ]

Ingredients

1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 600 – 800 gram ham hock
2 onions – chopped finely
1 cup dried green split peas
1 cup dried yellow split peas
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped finely
1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Garlic Paste
4 – 6 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Thyme Paste
splash of oil

Method

  1. Add the oil to a warmed skillet. Add the onions, garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant and browned. Add to the slow cooker.
  2. Rinse the split peas until the water runs clear, removing tough husks that float during the process. Add to the slow cooker.
  3. Cut loose fleshy bits from the ham hock revealing as much of the bone as possible. Add both meat, skin and bone to the slow cooker.
  4. Add the bay leaves to the slow cooker and cover the ingredients with 1 litre of stock.
  5. Cook on high for 4 – 6 hours or until tender.
  6. Remove the bay leaves, ham skin and bones before adding the lemon juice and mint leaves.
  7. Purée the soup in a blender for a smoother soup consistency (optional step).
  8. Garnish with a spring of mint and serve hot.

Observations

  • Served with hot crusty rolls, a soup like this is hard to beat on a cold winter night like tonight!
  • I like a rustic, chunky soup, so I don’t purée the soup at all. I cook it long enough so the peas dissolve giving it that lovely rich, thick consistency without the need to blitz it.
  • Pea and Ham Soup is somewhat of a classic, and I usually like to include some carrots and celery but today the fridge was bare. If you happen to have some on hand, consider including 1 finely chopped carrot and 1 celery sticks to your soup for vitamin contribution and texture.
  • Diabetic Note: For some reason, yellow split peas are higher in carbohydrate content than the green version. Having said that, though, there is only about 40 – 50 grams of carbohydrates in this entire pot! If you are a pumper or insulin dependent diabetic, you may need a slice of bread with this meal to increase the carbohydrate content.
  • Ethical Note: I wish I didn’t have to resort to using a commercially produced ham hock today but I was limited in options. The use of this commercially produced ham hock gave me some ethical dilemmas and I wanted to walk through them not as justification, but as way of educating. Although ham hocks are considered a waste or by-product of pork farming and are therefore a good ethical choice, animal ethic debates regarding commercially produced pork / intensive farming practices are ever-present. Many animal welfare groups decry such intensive farming practices as cruel and unnecessary. For all of our food options, there are both positive and negative externalities and hidden costs. I urge people as always to become better educated on their meal choices.
 

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