I love soups, and after consuming many a store-bought litre, we bought a few recipe books and started making our own. Our homemade soups are healthier, fresher and free from hidden ingredients and preservatives. What more could one ask for? The biggest problem with the recipes given in books though, is that they often have ingredients like potato for thickening. We find that we are perfectly happy either with thin or clear soups, or with the consistency got by blending the ingredients together. And after trying a few, we’re now at the stage where we have been improvising and even inventing our own soups.
One of my all-time favourite soups is the classic English pea and ham soup. Which is really surprising because I am not all that find of peas. But I love the simplicity of a good pea soup, with the meaty morsels of ham in every other spoonful. In this particular recipe though, I experimented a bit and added a bit of ginger, which I felt gave the dish a lovely back note of heat.
The key ingredient to a good soup is the stock. And if you can make your stock at home, there’s nothing like it. But I’ve happily used store-bought stock and even stock cubes or stock jelly pots on most occasions, turning soup-making into a fast and speedy dish with little to no planning required.
- 200g thick sliced ham, cut into strips or cubes
- 500ml pork, ham or chicken stock
- 250g frozen petit pois
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1″ ginger, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
- Salt, to taste
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1tsp olive oil or butter
- Heat the oil or butter in a soup pot. Add the chopped onions and garlic and sautée until the onions start to soften.
- Add the chopped ginger and chilli flakes and sautée until the onions are translucent and just strating to turn golden.
- Add in the peas, cover with a lid and keep cooking. Stirr every so often to make sure that peas are cooked through evenly, being careful not to let them burn.
- Once the peas have softened and are cooked through, add half the stock and bring to the boil.
- At this point, the soup needs to be blended. This can ideally be done in the pot itself using a hand-blender. If you dont have one, you can do this in an ordinary blender, but you will need to allow the soup to cool down first.
- Once all the soup is well blended to a smooth consistency, return it to the heat. As the soup begins to boil, add the ham and the rest of the stock. Turn the heat down and allow the soup to simmer for about ten minutes.
- Now check for seasoning. Add salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Stocks are often salty, so be careful with how much extra salt is added.
- Serve hot along with some crusty bread.
- This soup works just as well with shredded ham hock. Just cook the ham hock in some water, herbs and spices until it can be pulled apart easily. Use the stock for the soup along with some of the meat. The rest of the meat can be used in sandwiches or other dishes like pasta.