For any reader who is not sure about having a go at making your own very hearty soup of superior quality.


With one whole ham hock you can make a lot of soup.

Put some deep slashes into the hock – say 3 – to allow for it to make better broth.

In a large pan (I always used the big oval Le Crueset) put the hock and cover with water. The pot would be at least half full, or more likely two-thirds. Bring to boil then simmer for at least one hour.

Then add about 4 or 5 chopped potatoes, 1 very large carrot (or 2 smaller ones) – chopped. Add quite a bit of black pepper but no salt at this stage. Cook a further hour or thereabouts until all is well cooked. Remove the hock which by now should be in that state of ‘falling off the bone’. Discard the skin and flake the meat trying not to eat too much of it. Set aside.

To the broth and vegetables add a whole 500g packet of frozen McCain baby peas. Cook for at least 20 mins and now check for seasoning. Add salt as you see fit.   I also add other things to my liking – a bit of celery or garlic salt, some Massel veg stock perhaps. Should you have plenty of fresh parsley add a good amount of that too. Allow to cool just a bit and then blitz with whiz gig.

Reheat having added the flaked ham meat.   Eat.

If you are making this on a cold and wet day it would be a good idea to have a go at making your own bread. You can do the preparation while the soup is simmering, get the dough to raise by putting the bowl near your heater and get it cooked in time to serve with the soup. It’ll be a complete meal and very satisfying.

(Note: I used to make the soup using dried split peas – very cheap – but changed over the years as the dried stuff led to burping and potential farting.   I have given rough times as I just cooked till done. An extra potato and carrot will do no harm, nor will more peas – this will depend on the size of your pot.)