Have you heard the phrase ‘fog as thick as pea soup’? This is that soup. Split-pea and Ham Soup is a wholesome soup that has been on the menu in Northern Europe for centuries, if not longer. The Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians all have their own versions where split-peas are simmered till they disintegrate completely, leaving a gorgeous emulsion of peas suspended in ham flavoured stock. Kobi’s version doesn’t require a ham hock, so its particularly easy to make.
- Dried Spit Peas (250g)
- Cubed Ham (150g)
- Pork Sausages (150g)
- Onion (1)
- Butter (25g)
- Cream (1/4 cup)
- Pork Stock Cubes (2)
- Mint Leaves
- Rinse 250g (1.25 cups) of split peas briefly and then soak them in 2 cups of room temperature water.
- In a seperate cup of hot water, dissolve 2 pork stock cubes.
- Cut the onion into 1/4 inch bits.
- Slice each sausage down the middle and open them like a book face down to remove the sausage skin. Stir 1/4 cup of water into the sausage filling to loosen it up.
- In a large pot, fry the onion on low heat with a half inch thick slab of butter. When the onion begins to soften after about five minutes, turn the heat up and then add the wet sausage filling. Stir fry till the sausage begins to brown slightly – which means its fat has melted, then add the cubed ham and fry for another minute.
- Add the pork stock to the pot, followed by 3 cups of plain water, and then the peas including the water they were soaked in. Add 2t chopped mint leaves, 1t nutmeg, 1t sugar and 1t black pepper.
- Bring back up to a simmer again and maintain this for 90 minutes or so, at which time the peas would have disappeared. You’ll need to stir once in a while to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom. You’ll also need to add water from time to time as it evaporates.
- Before serving, reboil and stir in 1/4 cup of cream. Add salt incrementally (about 2t by my experience) till you are satisfied with the taste. Pea soup turns into a sludge when it cools down so always serve it piping hot.
- If you are wondering why I’m using such and odd amount of split peas, its because 240g is half a pound and split peas more often than not come in half pound packs. It also happens to be 3 cups if you want to go by volume.
- One of the age-old problems with split-pea soup is: the amount of ham required to make a proper stock is 10x more than the amount of ham that should be in the soup when it gets to the table. The traditional way of resolving this is to use a whole ham hock for the stock, with a small part of the hock diced for the final soup itself. When I initially experimented with pork stock cubes, I found them to be too lean and eventually I discovered that adding pork sausage to the mix was the ticket. The sausage contains fat (and other pork parts that I don’t want to discuss) and this with the pork cubes simulates a ham hock stock nicely.
- Pork stock cubes are popular in Asia and you should find them easily in a gourmet supermarket or Thai/Asian food store. If you really can’t find pork cubes, use chicken stock cubes boiled with spam instead. You’ll need to discard the spam before using the stock, but that’s still better than using a ham hock.
- If you can’t find pre-cubed ham, ask for ham from the deli counter that is sliced 1/3 inch thick and criss cross that to get your cubes.