Food has drawn me in. I like to eat it, I read anything and everything regarding the subject of food, I sketch plating ideas, blog, and most of my social interactions and memories revolve around glorious food. Fifteen years ago, I had seafood fettucine on my first date with my husband. My friend Cheryl loves burgers, no she really loves them. She is awesome because she is a patty purist and likes it almost rare. We have had long conversations on different types of burgers she has tried and why they were amazing to her. Our other close friend, Jesslyn, loves chicken wings. I think that’s one of the reasons why we have stayed friends for so long. We share many other food coincidences, but they are too numerous to mention. My brother really enjoys fried chicken. As a toddler he would wander around the house eating fried chicken and playing. He appeared to be having so much fun, I wish I could do that today. So many food memories, but one of them is near and dear to my heart. My father was in the military, and we used to move around every couple of years. No matter where we were resided, when my mom would heat up vegetable oil and sauté minced garlic that aroma would make me feel like home could be anywhere. If I were a dog, my ears would point up with excitement at that very moment of garlic touching oil and its fruity scent being released. Recently, my oldest son requested split pea soup. It was perfect timing, the town market was open, so I purchased 2 kilos of fresh snap peas. Yes, that’s a lot for a batch of pea soup, but I like to save a ziplock bag in the freezer to save for another time. The broth of the soup is made from smoked ham hocks with the skin on. After pureeing the soup, I like to add a touch of heavy cream. The garnish of his soup was cream fraiche, cilantro, and the fried bits of the skin, PORK CRACKLING! It would be safe to say this soup is a homage to peas. This may seem a little over the top for an 11-year-old, but I’ve created culinary monsters. Talk more about that later. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but this may be the dish that brings him back “home” when he’s a grownup. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. What is your food memory that you most associate with home?
This soup was made in a pressure cooker. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend purchasing one. You’ll wonder why you didn’t buy one sooner. Normally it would take 2-3 hours to simmer and tenderize the ham hock, but with a pressure cooker it will take 30-45 minutes tops. If you don’t have a pressure cooker another alternative is a crock pot.
Spring Pea Soup
2 smoked ham hocks with skin on
2 onions 3 celery stalks
3 carrots 2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tsp peppercorns
3 sprigs thyme
1 gallon water
3 cups shucked peas
6 cups ham hock broth
2 T olive oil 1 small onion diced
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Salt and Pepper TT
4 T Cilantro leaves
Fried Pork Crackling
Broth: Place all ingredients in the pot and bring to a boil. Pressure cooker: pressurize with top and bring down to a simmer. Cook for 30-45 minutes or according to your manuals directions. If cooking on stove top, bring to a boil and then simmer. Once the meat is tender, it can be shredded and placed in the soup or saved for another use. Strain and reserve broth. Reserve the skin for the garnish.
Soup: Place pan on medium heat with olive oil and sauté onions and garlic. Add peas and sauté until skin begins to wrinkle. Add ham hock broth and bring to a boil, turn heat down to simmer. After 20 minutes, peas will be tender. Take off heat. Use an immersion stick blender to puree or blender. Make sure soup is cool enough for the blender to prevent a blow out. Put pureed soup back on heat and add heavy whipping cream. Check for seasoning, keep warm. Everyone has their own opinion of what the consistency of soup should be, adjust with extra broth to the consistency preferred.
Garnish: Place pork skin in a fryer at 375F and fry until all fat has been rendered and the skin is nice and crispy. Let cool and chop with a knife into crumbles. Ladle soup in a bowl and carefully place your garnishes. Guten Appetit!