Monday, July 1, 2013

Cheater's Pea & Ham Soup: Comfort food without the stodge

Lovely Husband complained the other day that we seem to have two soups stuck on high rotation throughout the winter: minestrone or my most favourite roasted pumpkin and carrot. I would eat either of these every night of the week given the choice, but I usually just throw soup into the meal planning every other week. So I went back to my trusty set of folders filled with torn out, photocopied and printed recipes that I've saved over the years.

I am not a fan of pea and ham soup generally. The smell of it usually makes me want to hurl. Something about ham hocks or bacon bones boiling makes me run from a room. Lovely Husband feels a bit deprived because of this, so occasionally I pander. This one is the cheater's version. It adds the 'ham' part after so doesn't fill the house with that damn smell. It also uses green peas rather than split peas, so it's much lighter than the original version.

This one is based on a Jill Dupleix recipe from a newspaper's weekend magazine (SMH, maybe?). She used leeks; I don't. I had my fill of leeks after living in England for a year (also pork sausages because I was there not long after the Mad Cow episode and there was nary a beef sausage to be found in the supermarket. The beef section was literally bare. Literally. Completely devoid of beef products - sob). She used shredded ham; I had bacon. I've also added extra veg, because I'm a mum, and that's my SOP - plus I was also making bolognaise for the week ahead and was already chopping up a cartload of carrots and celery.


Onion- chopped
Stock- 1 litre; I used chicken but veggie or bacon would work
Green peas- 500g; I used a bag of frozen baby peas because 500g grams of fresh would bankrupt me.
Bacon- as you like; shredded ham, pancetta, speck or anything else that's 'hammy' works too.

Optional- extra veg; I included carrot and celery with the onion then added chopped baby spinach before whizzing.

How you do it?

Cook the bacon until crispy or as you like it (fried, grilled, whatever works) and set aside. Saute the onions (and any hard veggies you want to add) until soft. Pour in the stock (add less than the recommended litre if you like your soup thick and gloopy rather than liquid) and bring to the boil. Add peas and cook briefly until heated through. Whiz until smooth (I used a stick blender but a regular one would work too - either way watch for hot liquid splashing). This makes the soup an incredible green colour with a vibrant foam. You can scoop that off if you want but it usually dissipates.

Stir through most of the bacon (reserving some) and then serve into bowls. Then sprinkle over the remaining bacon and admire the lurid green of the soup.

I serve this with crusty bread. A lot of it. Because I am a bread fiend. If you're a condiment type of person, you could also add dollops of sour cream, a swirl of pesto, or a dab or two of harissa. If you like extras other than bacon, you could try toasted pepitas, a few homemade sweet potato or beetroot chips, or garlic seasoned sesame seeds.

Dear Boy is also a fan of this. I scooped out a few spoonfuls of veg before whizzing to add to his soup so he could see what was in it. He's a bread fiend too so was pretty happy dipping his in.

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