GREEN PEA SOUP WITH HAM AND MINT (for four)
For the broth:
2 pounds meaty smoked ham hocks
½ medium Spanish onion, halved
3 small celery stalks, roughly chopped
½ medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 head garlic, halved horizontally, not peeled
1 fresh bay leaf, or ½ dried
6 black peppercorns
For the soup:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ small Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
2 teaspoons Maldon or other flaky sea salt
½ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
five-fingered pinch of mint leaves, plus some torn leaves for finishing
20 ounces fresh or Birds Eye frozen baby peas
extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 tablespoons creme fraiche
- Make the broth: Combine all broth ingredients and 8 cups water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low, put the lid on and cook at a nice steady simmer until the meat on the hocks is so tender it is almost falling off he bone, 4 to 5 hours.
- Carefully remove the hocks and put them in a big bowl. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into the bowl, and discard the vegetables and aromatics. Let the hocks cool in the liquid.
- When the hocks are cool enough to handle, pull off the meat in bite sized chunks. Discard the bones, fat and skin. Keep the stock and meat (moistened with a splash of stock) in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days. Gently warm meat before proceeding with recipe. (NOTE: This recipe calls for only 4 cups of stock. You may freeze the leftover stock for up to a month for your next batch of soup.)
- Make the soup: Put butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once butter starts to froth, add onion, carrot and salt and stir. Cover pot and cook, stirring every now and again, until onion is soft and creamy (but not colored) and carrots are tender but firm, about 15 minutes.
- Add wine and bring to a boil (turn up the heat if you need to). Let wine boil until it’s all but gone, about 5 minutes. Add mint and 4 cups of the ham broth; bring liquid to a boil, then add peas. (At this point the carrots will have bobbed to the top. You can pick out most of the carrot chunks before pureeing the soup, then add them back afterward for a bit of texture.) Cook at a simmer until peas are warmed through and tender, about 5 minutes.
- Blend the pot’s contents in batches until smooth. Return all the pea puree to the large pot, add ham pieces and carrots, and cook at a very gentle simmer for about 5 minutes, just to let the flavors mingle and heat the ham. Season with salt to taste. (How much you need to add will depend on how salty the ham hocks are.)
- Add a generous drizzle of olive oil, several twists of black pepper, and torn mint leaves, then add the crème fraiche in little blobs here and there, so everyone will get a bit. Serve the soup from the pot, with bowls alongside.
NOTE: Letting the ingredients mingle in the pot for a few hours before serving will allow the flavors to marry. Doing this, however, sacrifices the soup’s lovely bright green color for a pondy, murky one. If you make the soup the night before and want it to stay bright, set up a big bowl of ice water and place another big bowl inside. Once the soup is done, pour it into the bowl and stir until it is cold. Reheat to serve.
from Epicurious, America’s Best Recipes, July, 2014