I get tired of cooking, just like you do. And just like you, I get bored with my same old stand by meals. I sometimes suffer from brain freeze and can’t come up with anything more creative than scrambled eggs for dinner. That’s when, just like you, I turn to my favorite bloggers for inspiration. This soup comes straight from the pages of Souvlaki For the Soul. Peter, who’s Greek by heritage, blogs from Sydney Australia and he’s super talented. His food is gutsy and his photos are riveting… the minute I saw his pea soup I knew it had to be mine. It was the color that got my attention, when have you seen a pea soup this green? The whole time I was chopping the veggies and simmering the ham hock I was praying that it wasn’t just a trick of Photoshop. I rely on visual cues when it comes to eating, and that bright emerald green tells me that the soup is going to be vibrant and fresh tasting, a world away from the grey pea soups that inspired the phrase ‘pea soup fog’.
So how is this possible? This soup is made with fresh frozen peas, not the dried kind, (aka split peas) hence, the great color. But the genius behind this soup is that it doesn’t stop there…the broth is made by long simmering a smoked ham hock, along with some aromatic veggies and herbs. The hock makes a rich broth, and the meat, which is falling off the bone by the end of the cooking, is added to the soup. The result is a fresh pea soup with a smokey depth of hammy flavor. It’s a real winner, I’m telling you.
You could absolutely do the cooking of the broth in a slow cooker and then finish off the soup after work. An immersion blender comes in super handy here, so that you can do everything in one pot. The leftovers only get better.
- 1 or 2 smoked ham hocks (mine came in a pack of 2, so I used both)
- 1/2 yellow onion, rough chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and rough chopped
- a couple of the tender inner stalks of celery, leaves included, rough chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- a bunch of fresh thyme or sage (I used sage)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 16 oz bag frozen peas (you can use less peas for a slightly thinner soup if you like)
- salt and pepper to taste
- First make the broth. In a large stock pot put the ham hocks and cover with 8 cups of water. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot, along with the bay leaves and the whole bunch of sage or thyme. Bring the pot to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 1/2 hours. You can also do this in a slow cooker set on low, for 6-8 hours.
- Remove the ham hocks to a plate and then fish out the bay leaves and whole herbs. Use an immersion blender to puree the broth. At this point I also ran it through a strainer just to get out any lumps, but this isn't necessary. (I ended up with a quart of broth.) Set the broth aside.
- In a clean soup pot heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic for several minutes until softened.
- Add the stock and the peas and heat up to a simmer. Using the immersion blender again, puree the soup. Bring back to a simmer and taste it. Add salt and pepper as needed. Remove the meat from the ham hocks and add to the soup.
- Serve hot!
If your ham hocks do not yield much meat, you may want to augment with extra ham. You can buy a thick slice from a deli counter and chop it up. Recipe slightly adapted from Souvlaki For The Soul
Even though this soup is hearty, it’s not heavy, and so it goes really well with fresh baked whole grain bread. I’m really pleased with this soup, and I’m completely smitten with the frozen pea ‘method’. No more dried peas for me, for sure.