Sunday, January 9, 2011

The tail end of Christmas

After more than two weeks of eating ham, I was finally down to the bone. I'd been looking forward to this moment, partly because two and a half weeks of ham is enough for anyone, but mostly because I knew I could make a tasty pea and ham soup (p89) out of the bone.

I've used this recipe before - making soup out of last Christmas's ham bone, for example. It's very easy and very cheap to make - especially if you have a ham bone that would otherwise be thrown out. Bacon bones are inexpensive and can be substituted if you don't have a ham bone.

I'd left quite a lot of meat on the bone, because I wanted my soup to be nice and hammy. I also threw in the last few small chunks of meat I'd cut off, which wasn't strictly necessary, but I couldn't be bothered coming up with another use for them.

In with the bone went some split peas, chopped onion and water. Apart from a little seasoning, that's it. You bring it to the boil, then simmer the soup for three hours. Since I was lazing around the house doing nothing much in any case, waiting three hours was no hardship.

When the simmering time was up, I took the soup off the heat, removed the bone and any chunks of ham. The soup I poured into the food processor and blended it smooth before returning it to the pot. The ham I cut up into small pieces, carefuly removing any traces of gristle. By the time I was done, quite a lot of meat had gone back into the soup.

And so my pea and ham soup was finished. It wasn't quite the right texture yet, though: still very watery whereas it should be nice and thick. From experience I knew that the soup would thicken and improve in flavour after some time in the fridge, so I chilled it for a few hours before having my first bowl.

Pea and ham is a good old-fashioned soup. I admit it isn't very appealing to look at, but it's got a lovely flavour from the ham, and the peas give it texture. Having been blended so thoroughly, it has only a hint of the furriness you get in some soups - it's up to you whether or not to consider that a good thing.

I'm sure most of you cleaned up your Christmas hams long before I did, so you won't be following suit with this recipe. But keep it in mind if you ever find yourself with an otherwise useless ham bone, or even if you just feel like a good thick soup sometime. It's dead easy, dirt cheap and very tasty - why wouldn't you give it a try?


  1. Man does this one bring back memories, Oma would be proud of you. Her pea soup was to die for.We had it so often as good filling winter food.And you didn't let it boil all over the stove I take it, well done.I recommend this one.

  2. I know, it's amazing: I actually managed to make something without spilling it all over the kitchen!


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