I have always been a fan of taking an old fave and pimping it up to become a modern classic.  Pea and Ham soup has been around for eons and I thought it was high time it had a little makeover.  Not too much has changed, the foundations remain as flavoursome and delicious as they always have.  A big chunky ham hock with the gorgeous silkiness of blended split peas (and a few baby peas thrown in for their glorious colour).  The makeover is in the garnish.  Crispy prosciutto sprinkled on top and a dollop of sour cream infused with a little lemon and some finely shredded mint.  I think even Nanna would be happy with this!

Prep time:  30  Minutes         Soaking time:  6-8 Hours or overnight           Cooking time:  4 Hours or 8 Hours in the Slow Cooker

$  Low Budget

Serves 6-8 with leftovers

Olive oil for frying

500gm bag of split peas

1/2 tsp of Bicarb soda

1 large smoked ham hock

300gms of frozen baby peas

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large brown onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

8 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

11/2 -2 litres of good quality chicken stock

Sea salt and pepper

For the garnish:

6 thin slices of prosciutto

1 cup of sour cream

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 tbs of finely shredded mint

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

The night before or in the morning, rinse the split peas through a sieve until the water runs clear and place the split peas in a large bowl with the bicarb and cover with water about an inch above the peas.  Cover with cling wrap and set aside for 6-8 hours to help the peas to soften.

Heat a large stock pot and add the olive oil with the onions and garlic and fry until soft.  Add the carrot and celery and continue to fry until the veggies start to soften.  Tie a piece of kitchen string tightly around the bay leaf and thyme and add it to the pan.  Place the ham hock in the pot and pour in the stock.  bring to the boil and simmer on low for 21/2 hours or until the ham is falling off the hock when pried with a fork.  Remove the hock and set aside and pour in the split peas.  bring the mixture back to the boil and allow to simmer for 45 minutes or until the peas are nice and soft.

When the peas are soft add the frozen peas and allow it to simmer for just a couple of minutes.  Use a hand blender or food processor to blend the soup.  I like it to still have a little texture so don’t over blend.  Add a little more stock if necessary as the split peas can really thicken it up.

Strip the meat from the ham hock, discard the skin and fat and return the shredded ham to the soup.  Taste the soup at this point and season with salt and pepper and keep warm on a very low simmer.

Pre heat the oven to 180°C.  Lay the slices of prosciutto on a lined baking tray and place them in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden and crisp.  Allow to cool and then crumble with your hands or roughly chop with a knife.

Mix the sour cream, lemon juice and mint together in a small bowl.

To serve, ladle a generous amount of soup in however many bowls you like.  Gentle place a scoop of the sour cream mixture in the centre and sprinkle over some crisp prosciutto.  Drizzle with a good EVOO for a final pimp up!

If making in the slow cooker, fry off your onion, garlic, herbs and veggies and place it in the slow cooker.  There is no need to soak the peas but do rinse them until the water runs clear.  Place all other ingredients in except the frozen peas and garnish and cook on low for 8 hours.  Add the frozen peas when you remove the ham hock and whack it up to high for half an hour, while you strip the meat. Blend before adding the ham back in.