This hearty split pea soup gets its flavour from ham hock. In Finland it’s traditionally eaten on Thursdays, with pancakes for dessert!
- 300g/10½oz split peas
- pinch bicarbonate of soda
- 1 small ham hock
- 2 onions, one left whole with 2 cloves stuck in and one finely chopped
- 1 blade of mace
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp hot mustard
- 100ml/3½fl oz double cream (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the split peas in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda. Cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight.
Put the ham hock in a large saucepan, cover it with 1½–2 litres/2½–3½ pints cold water and bring to the boil. As soon as it has reached boiling point remove from the heat. Drain, wash the ham hock and the pan to get rid of any starchy foam.
Put the ham back in the pan and cover with water again. Add the whole onion studded with cloves, mace and bay leaves to the pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for an hour.
Rinse the split peas and put in a saucepan, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Drain the peas and add to the ham hock pan along with the chopped onion and carrot. Simmer until the peas are tender, this should take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Top up with more water if needed.
Remove the ham hock, whole onion, bay and mace. Break up the ham hock, discarding the skin and bone and pull the meat into pieces.
Add the mustard to the soup and season with salt and pepper. Use a stick blender to blend to a rough purée, add the ham hock meat back into the soup and warm through.
Lightly whip the cream, if using, and fold gently into the soup. Serve with chunky bread.
Green split peas are traditional, but yellow peas are also fine.