- A ham hock and a selection of vegetables (onion, leek, celery, parsley stalks, garlic and a carrot) get cosy in a pan, with peppercorns and bay leaf. Cover them with water to muffle their cries.
- Bring to the boil then simmer gently for a few hours half covered. (I cheated with my pressure cooker.)
- When the meat is tender, strain the stock into a bowl, discarding the veggies and shredding the meat.
- Rinse a handful per person of green split peas til the water runs clear, then soften some diced onion (and garlic, if you're feeling raunchy) in butter and add in the peas.
- Pop in some of your stock, bring to the boil and simmer, skimming off any scum.
- When tender (30-40 mins), blitz half the lentils, return to the escape-peas, and add in some meat.
What did it taste like? Deeply flavourful, hearty and terribly satisfying.
- Make too much stock, then use only enough to cook your peas. You can then adjust the consistency once everything comes together.
- Be careful with seasoning - less/no salt if you have a smoked hock. If it isn't smoked you might want to add some fried lardons at the pea-simmering stage (fat drained off). If it is smoked, check your stock isn't too salty before adding to the peas (you can add water to reduce the saltiness and/or pre-soak it overnight before you start cooking it).
- You can also use pork ribs if you haven't got a ham hock to hand - in this case, I strongly advise the addition of lardons.
- This is really a winter soup but if June is misbehaving (as it is this year in Paris), go wild and make it then.