Pea and smoked ham soup with mushrooms and raisins
( SERVES 6 )
|2 Tbsp||Unsalted butter|
|1 cup||Onion, chopped|
|1||Leek, small, white part only, chopped|
|2||Celery stalks, chopped|
|1 tsp||Black peppercorns|
|2||Garlic cloves, chopped|
|200 ml||White wine|
|1 kg||Smoked ham hock|
- Stock: In a heavy-based pot, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables, herbs, peppercorns and garlic and cook until they are golden and slightly softened. Add the wine and simmer until it has reduced by half. Add the hock, bacon and water to the pot. Bring it to a gentle simmer and cook for 1½ hours. Remove the hock and set aside.
- Strain the stock, discard the vegetables and return the liquid to the pot. Bring it back to the boil and simmer until it has reduced by a third. This will make more than you need, so freeze the rest. Remove the meat from the hock and dice.
- Soup: Place the peas in a large bowl and pour over the hot stock (if using frozen peas, thaw first). Place the peas and stock into a liquidiser or blender (you may need to do this in batches) and purée until velvety smooth.
- Add the olive oil if you are using it. Add salt and pepper to taste, then return the soup to a pot and keep it warm.
- If you want to preserve the emerald-green colour, do not heat for too long. (If you want to make the soup ahead and still preserve the colour, chill it immediately after blending). In a frying pan melt the butter then gently sauté the finely sliced mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the smoked ham and raisins (soaked in 2 tbsp of hot ham stock) and warm through. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour the soup into bowls and place a teaspoon of the mushroom, ham and raisin mixture in the centre of each bowl.
Tip: This pea and ham soup uses frozen peas rather than split-dried. Most restaurants use frozen peas, as the flavour is better, the soup has a more seductive texture and the emerald-green colour is extremely elegant. It's perfect on a chilly evening.