This is a classic soup that never lets you down on flavour and satisfaction. The smokiness from the ham and the freshness of the peas are such a great combo. Peas are now in season, but dried split peas or frozen peas can always be used. It is also an inexpensive dish to make and can be gourmet-fied with some crispy pancetta, pea shoots and a drizzle of truffle oil.
1 small onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped 2 large carrots 2 sticks celery Smoked ham hock 500g frozen peas
750ml stock- half ham half veg
4 tbsp double cream or natural fromage frais
2 tbsp parsley, freshly chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One or two bay leaves
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently cook the onion, bay leaves, leek and ham for 10 minutes until softened but not coloured.
Meanwhile boil your smoked ham hock in a litre of water with the carrots and celery for 40 minutes. Add a few cloves of whole garlic for some added flavour.
Add the peas to the onion and butter , stirring constantly for 1 minute. Drain the stock(and remember to keep all the liquid stock!) and pick of all meat from the hock. Pour in most of the stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.
Transfer to a blender or food processor and process for a few seconds until smooth. Return to the saucepan and begin to heat gently. Add the remaining stock until you get the desired consistency. Add the shredded ham meat and stir through. Check the seasoning and season as required. Cook for a further minute or until piping hot but not boiling.
Serve with a dollop of double cream or fromage frais, or a sprinkling of fresh herbs such as flat leaf parsley. You could also accompany it with plenty of crusty bread or some steamed greens, such as mange tout.