Herb-scented ham and pea soup

    1 hour 15 min

    A hint of cream makes this fresh green soup seem delightfully indulgent. The high proportion of peas fills the soup with vitamins and fibre, while a modest amount of lean cooked ham adds protein and depth of flavour. Serve with crusty bread for a satisfying starter or add a sandwich and enjoy it for lunch.

    12 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 small carrot, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
    • 1 leek, chopped
    • 1 celery stick, diced
    • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
    • 1 potato, peeled and diced
    • 100 g (3½ oz) lean boiled or baked ham, diced
    • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) shelled fresh or frozen peas
    • ½ tsp dried herbes de Provence, or to taste
    • 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock, preferably home-made light, or a mixture of half stock and half water
    • 3 large lettuce leaves, finely shredded
    • 2 tbsp whipping cream
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:15min  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Ready in:1hr15min 

    1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, leek, celery, parsley, potato and ham. Stir well, then cover the pan, reduce the heat and sweat the vegetables for about 30 minutes or until they are softened. Stir the vegetables occasionally so that they cook evenly.
    2. Add the peas, herbes de Provence and stock, or stock and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to moderately high and cook until the peas are just tender – allow about 10 minutes for fresh peas or 5 minutes for frozen. Add the lettuce and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.
    3. Purée half to two-thirds of the soup in a blender, then stir the purée back into the rest of the soup. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender to partly purée the soup in the pan. Reheat the soup gently, if necessary, and taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle the soup into warm bowls. Swirl a little cream into each portion and serve at once.

    Some more ideas

    For a more substantial soup, add a generous spoonful of freshly cooked rice or vermicelli to each bowl. * For a split pea soup, use 140 g (5 oz) dried split peas (yellow or green) instead of fresh or frozen peas. Add 125 g (4½ oz) peeled, diced celeriac, ¼ tsp ground cumin and a few shakes of chilli sauce, such as Tabasco, to the vegetables and ham in step 1. Increase the volume of stock to 1.5 litres (2¾ pints), and simmer for 1–1½ hours or until the peas are tender. Omit the lettuce and whipping cream. Purée all the soup until smooth. Add pepper to taste and reheat.

    Plus points

    Throughout history garlic has been used to treat everything from athlete's foot to colds and flu. Scientific facts now give credence to the folklore – for example, allicin, the compound that gives garlic its characteristic smell and taste, is known to act as a powerful antibiotic and it also has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. * Peas are a good source of the B vitamins B1 B6, and niacin, and they provide useful amounts of folate and vitamin C. As a good source of soluble fibre, they are useful for anyone with high cholesterol levels.

    Each serving provides

    Excellent source of folate, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin C. Good source of iron, potassium, zinc. Useful source of calcium, copper, niacin.

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