Pea and ham soup

This is Grandma’s recipe.

Ham bones, or a combination of ham and bacon bones
2 onions, quartered
A few sticks of celery
3 or 4 large fresh carrots, grated
Several packets of split peas, green or yellow, or a combination of both (the colour of the peas doesn’t affect the flavour of the soup, only its colour)
1 teaspoon prepared hot English mustard
Additional ham, finely chopped

Remove any good ham that may be left on the bones, and set aside. Place bones in a large saucepan or stockpot with the onions and the celery. Cover with water, and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum that may form on the surface. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 4 – 5 hours, skimming when necessary. When you are happy with the colour and depth of the stock, strain it into a clean container and refrigerate so that fat can be easily removed.

Soak peas in cold water overnight, removing any black ones that will float to the surface when the peas are stirred.

Return the stock (with fat removed) to a heavy based casserole which has been greased on the bottom to stop the peas sticking during cooking. Add the strained peas, grated carrots and hot English mustard. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer slowly until the peas have lost their definition and soup has become thick. Take care that it does not burn on the bottom as the burnt bits will affect both the taste and the appearance of the soup. Lastly, add the chopped ham and stir in well. The soup should be thick, so don’t stint on the peas.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Almond milk and asparagus soup with truffle oil

This is not one of mum’s recipes but my own after my visit to The Sand End pub in Kate’s street in London. Saturday night was my first attempt and other than not being able to get the flower petals to garnish, it looked and tasted fantastic!

I made the almond milk from scratch as opinion seems to be that packaged almond milk has too much water added. I used raw almonds and it was very time consuming as you need to blanch the almonds and remove the skin. When I do it again, I’ll just buy blanched almonds although they do come at a premium price.

500g of blanched almonds
Hot water
3 bunches of asparagus
Lemon juice of one small lemon
Lemon zest
Chicken (or vegetable stock)
Truffle oil
Edible flowers (if available)

Pour boiling water over almonds and allow them to soften for 2 hours. Strain and add half the almonds to blender (500 grams is too much for most blenders). While blending the almonds slowly pour hot water into the blender – but do not add too much too quickly; you want a soup-like consistency. Repeat for the second half of the almonds.

Using a muslin cloth, strain the blended almonds and water mixture into a bowl. I hung mine up and let it drip, but still ended up squeezing the milk out by hand. The resulting liquid should be the consistency of milk but “grainier”.

Steam the asparagus to a firm but edible consistency – do not overcook. Drain and then place approximately two bunches of asparagus into the blender until it becomes a paste. The remaining asparagus is for garnish. Add the almond milk back into the blender and continue to blend. The resulting liquid should be still quite runny.

Pour the soup into a saucepan and add approximately 1 cup of stock, one piece of lemon peel and the juice of one lemon over a watched gentle flame. Heat the soup, continually stirring so that it does not stick to the base. As you do this the soup will thicken. You want the soup to become very thick so that you can thin it by adding more stock (but without adding so much that the subtle almond and asparagus tastes are over-powered).

Before serving, cut the remaining asparagus spears in half and add 2 spears to a shallow soup bowl. Remove the lemon skin and ladle the soup over the asparagus.

To serve, garnish with a drizzle of truffle oil and a pinch of lemon zest. If you happen to be able to find edible flower petals then this looks great.

Serves 4.

Potato, leek and jerusalem artichoke soup

Probably this soup should be called Potato and Leek Soup with Jerusalem Artichoke, because once you add the Jerusalem artichokes, it is not, technically, a Vichysoisse.


Jerusalem artichokes are winter vegetables, so probably lend themselves to hot soups rather than cold, so it is not really a Vichysoisse anyway, if you follow my reasoning. Whatever you want to call it the variation is a delicious one. Jerusalem artichokes are not a bit like the globe artichokes that Kate would almost kill for. They look like a cross between fresh ginger and a very knobbly potato and have a stunning flavour like nothing else. When you add it, someone always asks, “What is the wonderful flavour in this soup?”

To make, simply add 3-4 (or more, if you find the flavour addictive) Jerusalem artichokes to the Vichysoisse recipe above. Peel them and treat them exactly as you would the potatoes.

Vichyssoise (potato and leek soup)


6 – 8 good big leeks, carefully washed
8 big old potatoes
Oil for cooking
A good quantity of rich chicken stock, preferably homemade
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A little lemon juice, if required

Finely slice the leeks, white part only; peel the potatoes, and cut into manageable portions.

Heat oil in a heavy based frying pan, add the leeks and sauté until tender. Remove the leeks into a large saucepan or casserole, add potatoes to pan and toss in the remaining oil, allowing them to cook just a little. Add the potatoes to the leeks, cover with chicken stock, and allow them to simmer gently until the potatoes are tender.

Puree the potato and leek mixture in a food processor, or pass through a mouli. Return to a clean saucepan, and add additional chicken stock until the soup is the required consistency. Add a little lemon juice if required. Season to taste.

Vichyssoise is traditionally served cold, though it is delicious hot as well. Remember, though, that if it is frozen, it will lose its smooth consistency, which can only be regained by reheating. So if you intend serving it cold, it should not be frozen.

Before serving, stir the cream into the soup. Be careful not to add too much, which will make the soup unpleasantly rich. Alternatively, serve the soup as is, and add a swirl of cream to the bowl.

The flavour of a good vichyssoise is determined by the quality of the chicken stock, so if possible, use homemade stock