Pete’s Food Corner: nothing better than a hearty pea and ham soup

Peter Moody
Peter Moody

Pete Moody grew up in Delph and also lived in Diggle and Uppermill before going up to Lancaster to study English in 1996.

He taught himself to cook from the backs of cereal boxes, Chinese whispers and Youtube, deciding the long hours, crippling financial difficulty and a snooker-player complexion were preferable to a teaching career. He is currently starting up a restaurant in Shrewsbury.

I HAVE very little hair left. Over the past few days (years) of backside-clenchingly cold weather it’s hit me, like the metaphorical, well-packed snowball, that old folk are right: you DO lose most of your body heat through your head.

Rather than buy a hat, though, or make an appointment with one of the quiet certificate gatherers in St Anne’s Square for ‘follicle rebalancing’ I choose to stay indoors and make soup.

I reckon this has saved me from certain pneumonia and the rest of the populace from snow blindness as a result of the low winter sun glancing off my bonce.

Take the following for a hearty pea and ham, the only solution to this intense chill: a smoked ham hock, 500g dried split green peas, soaked overnight in cold water, a halved onion, a peeled carrot, a stick of celery, a bay leaf, 50g butter.

Cook the ham in plenty of water on a low simmer with the veg and bay for about three hours, until the meat is falling when poked with a stick.

Meanwhile drain the peas and bring to the boil in two litres of (cold) water. If you start pulses in hot water they get all shrivelled. Cook gently for as long as the ham, skimming when you see them foaming.

Remove the meat when cooked with a slotted spoon and reduce the stock a bit. Drain the peas in the sink and return them to the pan.

Pour the ham stock through a sieve over the peas until you’ve cleared them by a good inch (if you need to add more water it’s fine) then blitz with a hand blender or in a food processor.

When the meat is cold skin it, pull it roughly apart and dice it into small pieces or shred it, then stir through the soup with the butter. Check the seasoning (it should be fine for salt).

It is much, much better than a hat.


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