The balmy Australia summer may not immediately lend itself to thoughts of porters or pea and ham soup. Even so, most households will this week be shaving the last shreds off the bones of their Christmas ham and Paul Mercurio has offered up this perfect solution. If warm soup in summer is not your thing, Paul suggests serving it cold in an espresso cup. Otherwise, wrap you ham bone well and put it in the deep freeze and cook this one up when the night-time temperatures start to drop.
Split green pea, ham and porter soup
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 leek
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 potatoes
- 500g bag of split green peas
- Bone from your Xmas ham or 1 smoked pork hock approximately one kilogram
- 1.5 litres of chicken stock
- 1 x 330ml bottle of porter
- 3 x dried bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
Place a large casserole pot on the stove over medium high heat and add the olive oil and butter. While they heat up top and tail the leek and using the white part only cut it in half length ways then slice finely. Add this to the pot and stir well so as to coat with the butter and oil well – cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Peel the garlic then crush and add to the leek and stir well and cook for about 3 – 4 minutes. Peel the potatoes and cut each one into 8 pieces and add to the leeks along with the split peas stirring it all to coat with the oil and butter. Add in the ham bone or hock – if the ham bone is too large cut it through the joint so you have two smaller pieces. Bury the ham bone/hock in the pea mix then add the hot stock and then the beer stir everything to combine, throw in the bay leaves and give the soup a generous turn from your pepper mill – by generous I mean 15 – 20 turns! Bring to the boil then turn down so the soup gently simmers. Cover with a lid and simmer for 1 ½ hours stirring occasionally.
Once the peas are wonderfully soft remove the ham bone/hock from the soup and set aside on a plate. Discard the bay leaves. Use a stick blender to blend the soup so it is a velvety texture, it should also be slightly thick – if it is runny return to the stove over high heat and reduce it down a little. Shred the meat from the bones and chop up into small dice then add back into the blended soup. Taste for seasoning and if need be add a little salt. You could also add a little cream if you want to add in a bit more richness.
Serve in bowls with some crusty toasted sour dough.
Serves 6 – 8