As the coldest month of the year, homemade soup is for me the most perfect comfort food in February. This is a variation on Swedish pea soup (traditionally eaten on Thursdays in Sweden followed by pancakes with jam). Cooked in Sue's beautiful Norfolk kitchen on a cold and blustery winter's day, the recipe and cooking are lovely Sue's creations, the styling and photography was done by me.
Swedish Pea and Ham Soup (serves 6)
1 Ham shank
300g split peas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1.4 litres stock ( made from the ham shank using onions, celery, carrots, garlic,bay leaf, sage parsley a pinch of salt and peppercorns ). Keep the cooked ham from the bone for later to add to the soup. *This soup can also be made with a really good chicken stock using ginger and a large chilli and a stick of cinnamon plus a couple of legs or thighs for extra meat.
2 leeks, washed and chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely crushed with sea salt
225 each of celeriac and carrot, cut into dice
Bay leaf and sage
Melt butter in a large heavy - bottom pan, add leeks and onions and cook them covered over a low heat until soft ( keep checking and stirring ) add a splash of water if needed.
Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the stock and the split peas and bay leaf and sage.
Cook the soup for about an hour, then add the carrots and celeriac, cook for another 30 mins. The vegetables and peas should be soft. Check for seasoning, I always use a good sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Add the cooked ham from the bone to the soup.
This soup can be served with a spoonful of sour cream and cubes of smoked bacon or a dribble of good olive oil and freshly chopped mint or just enjoy its rustic charm.