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Lancashire Pea and Ham Soup

  • Serves10
  • DifficultyEasy
450g dried marrowfat peas
1.5–2kg fresh ham shank (still a very cheap cut)
2.25 litres water for the ham
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 tsp cracked black peppercorns
2.25 litres water for the soup
1 tsp shop bought mint sauce
A small handful of fresh finely chopped parsley

1. There are two ways to prepare your dried marrowfat peas. Simply soak them in tepid water overnight (about 8 hours) or, alternatively, boil them up in a pan of water for 3 minutes, and then cover and simmer for a further 45 to 60 minutes until the peas are tender. Don’t even think about eating raw soaked peas.

2. Place your ham shank in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and add 2.25 litres water. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the ham and discard the water. This helps to desalinate the ham.

3. Place your ham shank, peas, celery, carrots, onions, thyme and black pepper in the pan, pour in another 2.25 litres water and bring to the boil. Cover and turn down the heat to create a nice slow simmer. Cook for 2 hours.

4. Remove the ham shank and set it aside to cool. Once cooled, discard the fat, take all the meat off the bone and cut into 2cm pieces. Put them back in the soup and liquidise half of it. Stir the liquidised soup into the remaining soup for a nice thick chunky texture.

5. Cover and leave this gorgeous soup overnight in the fridge to enhance the flavours. It’s a long wait, but believe me, it’s well worth it.

6. Next day, reheat the soup for 15–20 minutes, stirring frequently to stop it sticking to the base of the pan. You may need to add a little water to loosen it. Finally, stir in the mint sauce and parsley. Check the seasoning only when it’s finished, please.


The Great Northern Cookbook by Sean Wilson, Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2012 © Amanda Heywood

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