This warming soup was given its name by Charles Dickens, referring to the fog that once blanketed London, a ‘pea souper’. The most economical way to make this is to use the stock from the cooked ham and some pieces of meat. A ham hock is always a great-value cut and once cooked for the soup you can make sandwiches, salads and lots of other dishes with it.
Depending on the ham, the stock can be quite salty, so taste it first before making the soup and dilute it with water if necessary.
Prep time: 20 minutes, plus overnight soaking and cooling time
Cook time: 3 hours
- 1 ham hock, about 600-800g, soaked overnight in cold water
- a knob of butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- a few sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 250g green split peas, soaked overnight in cold water
1. Rinse the ham hock and put it in a heavy saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer gently (skimming off any froth occasionally and topping up with more water if necessary) for 1½-2 hours, or until tender. Allow to cool then lift the ham out and reserve the stock. Shred some of the meat for the soup and keep the rest for future meals.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the onion for a few minutes until soft, without allowing it to colour. Add the thyme, bay, drained soaked peas and a litre and a half of ham stock.
3. Bring to the boil and skim the top then add some freshly ground black pepper (but not salt) and simmer for an hour. The peas should be soft and beginning to fall apart; if not, just simmer for a little longer (you may have to top up with more stock or water).
4. Once the peas are cooked, blend about a quarter of the soup in a liquidiser or with a stick blender as coarsely or as smoothly as you wish. Return this to the pan. Check the seasoning and add a little salt and more pepper if necessary.
5. Add the shredded ham to the soup and simmer for a few more minutes before serving.