"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients." (Julia Child)
Never have truer words been spoken when creating with food. Every style of food has a place. When I think of styles of food, I don't necessarily think of where it originated from, if it is traditional or not. It more what I see, then what I taste. Just because a recipe calls for a list of ingredients that reads like a war and peace novel, doesn't mean it is going to actually be better or taste better. Sometimes the easiest recipes are the yummiest (well in my opinion anyway). The basis of all good food is using fresh ingredients. As adults we all make a connection with food in some way, for me it is often remembering recipes my Grandmother taught me, these recipes have been handed down time and time through the generations. These recipes give me that wonderful feeling of comfort, not only cooking it, but eating it as well. The recipes that have been handed down and shared amongst my family are what would be considered very basic. Not complicated, easy to assemble, and often very few ingredients. Back in the days of our grandparents and great parents they didn't have the luxuries or the convince of ingredients that we have today.
One of my all time favourite recipes given to me by my Gran is her Pea & Ham Soup recipe. I love this soup in winter (actually I love it at anytime) but in winter there is something very satisfying about a yummy bowel of soup served with a side of crusty bread.
Now most of you who have tried pea & ham soup will associate it as being green. This is because a vast majority of pea & ham soup recipe uses a base of green peas - fresh and frozen. My Gran's recipe is different, she used Yellow Split Peas which give it a completely different flavour and texture. Just like most soup recipes this one is super simple, but it is a little time consuming, due to the long cooking time, but trust me it is worth it. Since moving to Seattle it has taken some time to adjust ingrdeients and also find the exact item I am looking for or finding something that is suitable to substitute it. One item I had this problem with was yellow split peas and finally I found them at the go to store for unusual, organic, hard to find, essentials - whole Foods of course (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/)
Pea & Ham Soup
1 Ham Hock (or approx 1.2kg or 2 pounds)
500 grams Yellow Split Peas (1 pound or just over)
1 Onion (diced)
4 Litres of Water (1 Gallon)
1 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Salt
Place all the ingredients into a large soup pot and start on a medium heat. Stirring the soup occasionally, after approx 2 hours you will start to notice the texture of the split peas changing. Turn the soup down to a low simmer and let it bubble away for a few hours, give it an odd stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. When the split peas have completely broken up and have turned to mush, Remove the ham hock and start to remove the meat from the bone. I pull it off in chunks then shred it using two forks. Once shredded add back to the pot of soup. Let it simmer for approx another hour, the soup will reduce and thicken. Taste it at this point, I know 1 tablespoon of salt at the start sounds like a lot (no I didn't make a mistake) but split peas soak up salt and water so you might actually need to re-season to your own taste.
Bubbling away on the stove, you can skim the foam off, or leave it.
The finished product!
If you want to know more about split peas, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split_pea