Every Christmas and New Year, at some point a ham or two will be cooked in our house. Firstly simmered in water, and then into a hot oven with a glaze. Every time, year after year, the flavoured stock the ham has created I have poured away. All of the taste of the ham and aromatics which has spent several hours in the saucepan getting to know each other wasted, gone and never to come back. Many times I have had it cross my mind that, next year I really must use this stock. Not just once or twice, but four or five times. But never have.
So as the ham cooked on New Year’s Day cooled in the stock, I decided this would be the time I would use would use it. Once the ham had been removed and it strained to remove the vegetables, I left it to go cold over night. This allows and fat in the stock to form on the surface and solidify, so that it can be easily removed.
When you buy a ham to cook, try and get one with a bone in it. Once you have carved the ham, keep the bone. When cooking the soup, if you use the ham bone, it will increase the flavour. You can still make this without one.
This is a warming, comforting soup that is perfect for the start of a new year. On the side I have Malted Grain Bread to dunk into and mop up the last remnants at the end.
Pea & Ham Soup
:: Butter :: 2 medium Onions, finely chopped :: 1 Garlic clove, finely chopped :: 1 tbsp Thyme leaves :: 3 medium Potatoes :: 1 litre Ham Stock :: 1 Ham Bone :: 600g Frozen Peas :: 150ml Milk :: 6 large slices of Ham :: Rapeseed Oil :: Salt & White Pepper
Place a large saucepan on a medium heat, sweat the onions, garlic and thyme in the butter for 10 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the stock, bone, peas and the potatoes that you have chopped into chunks to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Then add the milk and four of the ham slice and simmer for a further 5 mins. Using a stick blender, process until smooth. Taste to see what seasoning it needs, be careful with the salt as the ham stock will already by salty. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
To serve, shred or flake the remaining two ham slices. Place a little ham in the bottom of each bowl, and ladle the soup on top. Place a few flakes of ham on top of the soup along with a drizzle of rapeseed oil.