Friday, 6 February 2015
I've already tried to make a soup with a ham hock and documented my absolute failure to find split peas anywhere. In the end I found some but because I am irritating I decided, despite my previous moaning, to eschew the split peas this time for beautiful verdant jewel like puy lentils, their earthy nuttiness matching the tender pieces of ham amazingly. If there is anything good about the cold weather, it is most definitely the food. And if you're making soup, then you may as well make vats of the stuff to keep you going through the cold winter days.
Some things to bear in mind when making this. Be really careful with the amount of salt you add as the hock stock will possibly be quite salty to begin with. This is quite an involved activity as you will need to boil the hock to cook the hock and allow it to cool before you can strip the meat from the bones. You will also need to reduce the stock before you put the vegetables, the lentils and the herbs in. Lastly, personal preference of course, but I love great chunks or long strips of ham hock, rather than ham chopped finely. I am not looking for this to be an elegant dining experience.
Puy and Ham Soup
Serves 8 - 10
Two ham hocks
enough water to cover the hocks (Mine was about 4 pints)
500g Puy lentils, rinsed briefly in cold water
two onions, diced
four carrots, chopped
a handful of parsley stalks, finely chopped
seasoning (but be careful!!)
ham, stripped from the bones
parsley to scatter over the top
Put the hocks into water and bring to the boil. Skim the scum from the surface as it begins to boil.
Allow the hocks to simmer in the water for about an hour to an hour and a half. When the hock can be easily pierced, remove the hocks from the water and allow to cool enough so that they can be handled.
Meantime, bring the stock to the boil and reduce by about a third.
Once the stock has reduced add the onions, the carrots, the parsley stalks and the lentils. Stir them into the stock. Allow the stock to simmer for about a 40 minutes or until the lentils yield to the touch.
At this point, add the strips of ham to the stock to warm through. At this point taste and adjust the seasoning where necessary.
Serve in deep bowls, scattered with parsley and some crusty bread and butter