When i was growing up we would often make the journey to my grans at the other end of Glasgow and more often than not it was cold, windy and raining and by the time we got there we would be frozen and soaked through. On the upside, we got to see family and we knew there would always be a massive bowl of homemade soup, a doorstop of bread slathered in butter for dunking and the thought of this warming me from the inside out made the journey worth it.
This Christmas my parents came to stay in Bristol and so I thought it would be ideal to make homemade soup although I was concerned that it wouldn’t turn out as good as my mums and that she would be full of criticism. Luckily it turned out better than hers and she was full of praise – and soup. So I thought that whilst its cold, damp and miserable outside that I would make this soup on a more regular basis to enjoy. The recipe is below and ingredients can be swapped in or out as per your preference.
1 gammon joint – i decided to use smoked as i wanted the flavour.
2 carrots grated or finely chopped
1 turnip grated or finely chopped
1 parsnip grated or finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
I leek finely chopped
1.5 litres of water
1 500g pack of dried pea and barley soup mix – you could use lentils
15-20 black peppercorns
3 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
Salt, white pepper, thyme and oregano – use any herbs that take your fancy to give the soup some extra flavour.
Place the gammon joint in a large pan and fill the pan with the water until it covers the gammon joint. Add in all spices/herbs and bring to the boil.
Once the pot is boiling reduce the heat to low so that the pot remains on a gentle simmer. Allow this to simmer for 1-2 hours so that the flavours of the meat and herbs are extracted into the water. Top up with water as necessary.
Whilst this is simmering i prepare the vegetables by washing them and cutting of any ends or nasty looking bits.
Grate the vegetables that you have selected (you could add in potatoes, brocolli, frozen veg, celariac – anything that takes your fancy).
Place the dried soup mix in a bowl and cover with cold water rinsing any dust from the soup mix. I usually rinse it through 2 or 3 times.
Once the meat has been simmering for 1-2 hours remove it from the pot and you should be left with stock that is pretty well flavoured. Leave the meat aside to cool down.
Skim any foam from the top of the stock and then add the vegetables to the simmering water. Add in the soup mix and then leave to simmer for about 20-30 minutes checking that the dried peas and any larger pieces of vegetables have softened.
You can top up the water levels as and when necessary but I try not to top it up too much as I like my soup to be quite thick in consistency.
Whilst the soup is simmering shred the meat into small pieces that you can then add to the soup. I generally do this by cutting the meat into bite sized chunks and then pulsing these chunks in a processor just to get them to a finer consistency. You could always cut the meat into larger chunks depending on your preferences.
Taste and season with salt and pepper.
The soup is then ready to serve with a chunk of rustic bread and butter or with some crackers such as ryvita.
If you put your remaining soup in a container and store in the fridge the flavours continue to develop and make it even tastier but it rarely lasts long in our house as it tastes so good.
Let me know what tweaks and edits you make to this recipe to make it even tastier. Enjoy!