There are many ways of preparing this soup and you can use split green peas or yellow ones, depending which you prefer, or which you have in your store cupboard. Personally I prefer the green ones and use the yellow ones to make fava, which is a dip rather like hummus. You can leave the soup chunky or puree it until it is thick and smooth; it is entirely up to you. I like to add cumin seeds and coriander seeds which have been dry-fried to bring out their flavour and a dried red chili, but you don’t have to use these things. If you do want a spicier soup than usual, use a teaspoon of coriander seeds and 2 of cumin seeds, dry-fry them for a minute or two until they release their aroma and add them to the soup when you add the water. The dried crumbled red chili pepper can also be added at this time. This recipe is for the traditional green split pea soup with ham. I hope you like it!
750 gr of ham hock or knuckle, washed and rinsed
500 gr green split peas, cleaned to remove any dirt or grit
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed and halved
4 medium carrots, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, halved
2 large sprigs of thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
8 sprigs of parsley either curly or flat-leaved
2 bay leaves, torn but still intact
10 black peppercorns
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4-6 allspice berries (optional)
sprigs of parsley to decorate each bowl if desired
Put the ham hock or knuckle and peas in a large pan and cover with 2½ liters of water A and bring to the boil. Remove any scum which comes to the surface.
You can either fry the onion, garlic, and carrots gently in olive oil, or simply add them to the pan after the scum has been removed along with the herbs and spices.
Partially cover the pan and cook, simmering, for an hour and a half.
Check that the peas are cooked and if necessary cook for half and hour more with the lid on firmly.
When the soup ingredients are cooked, remove the ham hock and allow it to cool before removing the skin and then flake the meat from the bone with a fork. Return this to the pan and mix well, then blend the soup in batches until it is smooth.
Reheat the soup and serve in warm bowls and decorate with parsley sprigs if using.