HAM, MINT AND PEA SOUP
Jekka's Herb Cookbook
by Jekka McVicar
Mint, peas and leftover ham are the basis for this simple, hearty summer soup. The use of mint cuts the saltiness of the ham and enhances the flavor of the peas. If you've cooked a ham or turkey from scratch, you can use the bones and any cooking liquid to make a batch of rich stock. Serve with fresh crusty white bread.
• 3½ oz (100 g) peas, removed from their pods (reserve the pods) or frozen (but then you miss the pods)
• 1½ qt (1.5 L) ham or vegetable stock
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
• 2 carrots, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp (30 ml) dry white wine
• 7 oz (200 g) white beans, soaked overnight, or 2 x 14-oz (398 ml) cans white beans, drained
• 8 oz (250 g) cooked ham, cut into small pieces
• 2 tbsp (30 ml) spearmint leaves, chopped, but not too fine
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the pea pods in a large saucepan with the ham or vegetable stock (this will add a delicious pea flavor to the stock). Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes and strain, discarding the pea pods.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, celery and carrots. Cover, reduce the heat and cook for about 15 minutes, until soft. Add the wine to the pan. Stir once or twice and simmer until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the beans to the pan, stir once or twice, then leave to cook for a few minutes so they start to soften and mush a little.
Pour the stock into the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes; you can slightly mash the beans if you like a thick soup or leave them alone if you prefer. Add the peas and cook until the soup returns to a simmer, then add the chopped ham and mint. Stir well, allow to warm through and season to taste.