Tonight I have been cooking yellow split pea and ham soup and soda bread.
Economical, satisfying but most of all DELICIOUS. The soup takes a little time to prepare but if you do it in stages, it’s no trouble at all and believe me, it is worth it. I have adapted it from a recipe in the Hairy Biker’s Diet Book. We had never eaten split peas before and were surprised that such simple ingredients could taste so good.
Stage 1: cook your ham .
I bought a piece of vacuum packed smoked ham/gammon from the butchers- about 1kg- which cost £3.99. Last night I simmered it for about an hour with a roughly chopped carrot, two sticks of chopped celery, some parsley stalks and a leek.
Let it cool for a bit then remove the ham BUT keep the precious cooking liquid! Peel off the fat and discard, wrap the ham in foil and put it in the fridge.
Strain the stock and discard the vegetables. Put the cooled stock in the fridge overnight.
Take a 500g bag of dried yellow split peas ( mine cost 50p in Sainsbury’s ). Put in a large bowl or pan and cover with cold water. Soak overnight.
Stage 2: boil the peas.
Rinse the peas, place in a large pan with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for at least 10 minutes. I did this while I was having my breakfast this morning. You may need to skim off any scummy froth from the top. Switch off. Cover the pan. Go to work.
Stage 3: when you get in from work, make the soup. ( you can of course go straight to stage 3 after boiling the peas!)
Add the boiled peas to the ham stock together with two diced carrots, two sticks of chopped celery and two chopped leeks. If you are more organised than me, chop these the night before and leave them in a bag in the fridge. Add a tsp of dried thyme, some salt and pepper and a bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Whizz the soup with a hand blender until smooth, add a bit more water if it looks too thick. Take your cooked ham and chop some of it into small cubes- add these to the soup and warm through for a few minutes. I reckon this feeds six hungry people, eight as a starter. There should be enough ham to make another meal for two: with chunky chips and a fried egg, maybe with a jacket potato, or chopped with mushrooms in a pasta sauce or just for sandwiches the next day. I cut out the ‘best’ bit from the middle to slice and use the ends and outsides for the soup.
Serve with a chunk of warm, homemade soda bread and butter. You should just about have time to make this while the soup is cooking. I use Paul Hollywood’s recipe. Freeze the leftover soup or it should keep in the fridge for a few days. As with many soups and stews, it tastes even better the next day. Soda bread doesn’t keep too long ( especially not in our house) but makes great toast.