If you know The Hairy Bikers you’ll know they are renowned for their love of hearty grub and that they regularly feature on the BBC. They went to meet a lady called Marika Von Dolen whilst filming their “Mum’s Know Best” series and she gave them a couple of recipes; Dutch Croquettes and Dutch Pea Soup.
As it’s winter and I always remember the Pea Soup I’ve had in Holland as being really warming and comforting I thought I’d give this a go. For me it comes under the peasant food banner again which, as I’ve said before, is certainly not a derogatory term.
For the original recipe on the BBC Food website, click here
- Prep time: Less than 30 minutes
- Cook Time: More than 2 hours
- Serves: 6 – 8
- 1kg/2lb 4oz dried green peas or split peas (or a mixture of both)
- 1kg/2lb 4oz pork shank or leg (on the bone)
- 2 pigs’ ears (optional)
- 200g/7oz smoked bacon, cut into cubes
- 2–3 leeks, sliced
- 5–7 carrots, sliced
- 1 celeriac, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 head of celery, roughly chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, tied with string
- 1 smoked sausage, sliced
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Dark rye bread
- Thin slices of fried streaky bacon
Method of Preparation:
- Place the dried green peas and/or split peas in water and soak them as directed on the packet.
- Put the pork and the pigs’ ears, if using, in a large pan with the smoked bacon, leeks, carrots, celeriac, celery, bay leaves, parsley and salt.
- Pour in water to come up to about 2cm/1in below the rim of the pan and gently bring to the boil.
- Simmer very gently for about two hours, adding more boiling water as necessary.
- Add the soaked peas and the slices of sausage to the soup, bring everything to the boil again and leave to simmer for another 2–3 hours until the peas are soft.
- If you want a really thick soup, add only half of the peas to the pan and boil the rest separately until soft, then purée them in a food processor and stir this mixture into the soup.
- Remove the pork, ears and parsley. Leave the pork and ears to cool, then remove the meat from the bones and put it back in the soup. Add the fresh chopped parsley and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve the soup with dark rye bread and cheese or very thin slices of fried streaky bacon
I had almost an entire Sunday to do this, which turned out to be a good thing because I only got it started at about 1pm. The first thing I did was to get the peas in to soak and prepare all my ingredients, I always do this, it’s the way I’ve always cooked and it keeps me organised I find. For once I managed to get the majority of the required ingredients, the only difference is that my butcher wasn’t open (Sunday – doh!) so I had to get the meat from Asda who don’t sell legs of pork. The in-store butcher didn’t think any other local supermarket would either so I instead bout 1.6kg of pork ribs. These were £4 for 800g or 2 for £7. They also didn’t have any pigs ears but as they’re optional I wasn’t going to worry about that. Instead of smoked bacon I bought 180g of smoked lard ons. Quick word about the peas. I went for the quick soak Bachelor’s dried peas, they were 250g and 40p per pack. They soaked in 2 hours, you can get those which you need to soak overnight.
So, I’ve now got the peas soaking for 2 hours in one pan and I’m simmering all the other ingredients for 2 hours in another pan. I think I need a bigger pan though as this one was so close to going everywhere before everything softened up and compacted a little. When this was done I drained the peas and just turned the other pan off. You see I had to go out and collect Wife from the train station in town but while we were out we took a look around the German Markets and grabbed dinner at Tampopo – a lovely few hours.
I was back at about 7pm and got on to mixing the peas and smoked sausage with the rest of the ingredients – again we very nearly had pea soup everywhere but it was just OK – brought it back up to the boil and then simmered for about 2 and a half hours. The peas broke down into a beautiful puree, the meat started falling off the pork ribs and the flavour really started to come together. For me this does require a LOT of seasoning but be careful as sometimes all the salt you need will come out of the pork you are using so I would probably leave any seasoning at all until the last half hour of cooking.
That was it, I left it sat in the pan overnight to cool and when I got up this morning it was very thick indeed so I added about another 300ml of water, heated it through again and then when it had cooled portioned it out. This is going to be my lunches for the rest of the week. Tesco do some lovely part baked rolls that I think are perfect when introduced to a lot of butter and that will be my accompaniment. It took a long time but it was well worth it and now I’m going to have at least 6 portions in the freezer too. I’d say this recipe is enough for about 10 portions and I would challenge anyone to find a soup this good for £1.50 a pop.
If you know any other great winter warmers like this please let me know as I’d love to give them a go and let you all know how I get on.