Thursday, 28 November 2013

London Particular

 There's a bit in one of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Books (The Restaurant at the End of The Universe, I think, but I could be wrong) which says that 85% of species in the Galaxy eventually discover a drink called Gin and Tonic, or something similar.  In Battlestar Galactica, The song 'All Along The Watchtower' features prominently, even though the characters have never been to Earth or heard of Jimi Hendrix*.  When quizzed about it, the producers said that something were so perfect that they would exist everywhere in the Universe at one time or another. 

So what does this geekery have to do with soup, I hear you ask.  Well, much like Gin and Tonic and All Along the Watchtower, split pea and ham soup seems to have appeared in a great many guises on my culinary travels (all of which pretty much happen from the comfort of my living room, in a rather magical fashion)

I've done at least 4 other pea soups on the blog, but never this Particular classic (See what I did there?) It's a soup that demands a little investment of your time - soaking the peas and cooking the ham before its ready, but it is totally worth it. 

This is the soup that is named after the famous Smog of London, and it's so thick and rich and gloopy (I love that word, gloopy,) that you really can see why an all obscuring yellowish green fog would have inspired such a soup.  The smog may now have lifted, but on a chilly winter's eve, I can't think of a more perfect soup to enjoy!

* Yes I know Bob Dylan wrote that song, but a) I hate Bob Dylan and b) I may be a cylon

1 Ham Hock
3 Stalks Celery
1 Large Onion
2 Carrots
2 Bay Leave
Black Peppercorns
2l Water

250g Dried Peas

1tsp Bicarb of Soda
1 Large Onion
1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
20g Butter

1.  Soak the peas for 24 hours, with a teaspoon of Bicarb and enough water to cover them properly.  The bicarb helps to soften the peas, and lets them cook quicker - the same thing works with chickpeas if you are making hummus from scratch

2.  In a large pan, place the ham hock, 2 litres of water, roughly chopped celery, carrot, bay, onion and peppercorns.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 2-3 hours, depending on how big the ham hock is. Once it's cooked through, take the ham out of the cooking liquid and allow to cool

3.  Strain the cooking liquid to get all the veg out of it, and then set that to once side too.

4.  In your soup pan, fry off a thinly sliced onion in the butter until its soft and golden.  Next add the liquid the ham was cooked in.

5.  Drain and wash the peas, then add those to the pan and bring to the boil, then cover and cook over a low heat for 2 hours or until the peas have softened and are cooked through.

6.  Using a stick blender, puree the soup (you can do this just a bit to give the soup more texture, or completely blend it if you prefer)

7.  Add most of the ham from the hock, and the Worcestershire sauce and bring back to the heat to warm through, then serve with crusty bread and garnish with some of the ham hock shredded on top.  Enjoy

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