This week, I updated the Much More With Less recipe page with all the new website links, and it made me realise that while I’m still cooking away on a budget I haven’t been writing about it very much.
So while I remember, yesterday I made some pea, mint and ham soup, after spotting shredded ham hock in the reduced section of our local Co-op.
Shopping from the yellow-stickered shelves is sometimes much like ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’. If you snap up a good deal, you have to come up with other ingredients that will make it into a meal, and ideally ones that don’t involve splashing extra cash. Buying bargain food that never gets used, and ends up in the bin, is hardly a bargain!
(Read here for more tips on making the most of yellow-stickered bargains)
I’m a big fan of soup, especially when I’m attempting to shed pounds rather than £££. After a very social bank holiday weekend, I need all the help I can get to fit back into my trousers (good weekend though). Soup can be warming, filling, easy and inexpensive, and I’ve jotted down some of my favourite soup recipes for the Mirror Online in the past.
Anyway, I’ve fancied the idea of pea and ham soup without ever actually cooking it.
It’s a great way to use up leftover pieces of ham, but somehow whenever I’ve made marmalade-glazed gammon it hasn’t actually produced any leftovers. Think horde of locusts, and you’d be somewhat closer. I’ve also been reluctant to splash out on expensive cooked ham hock.
So when I saw cut-price shredded ham hock, it seemed an ideal time to try out pea and ham soup, especially as I also had some yellow-stickered mint that needed using up. It’s a good one because the other ingredients – frozen peas, potato, onions, stock cubes – are the kind of thing I have knocking about at home anyway. I did a quick google, and came up with the recipe below to suit the amount of ham.
RECIPE FOR PEA, MINT AND HAM SOUP
Makes 4 generous portions
Knob of butter
An onion, chopped
200g potatoes, peeled and chopped
Couple of vegetable stock cubes. Depending on the stock used, this recipe can be gluten-free.
400g frozen peas
1.2 litres boiling water
140g or so pulled or shredded ham hock, or chopped up leftover ham (set a bit aside if you want to sprinkle some on top of the soup bowls)
Handful of mint leaves, shredded
Chuck some butter in a pan on the hob, and melt it gently.
Add the chopped onion and soften on a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the onion, and lower the heat if there’s any risk of it going brown or crispy.
Meanwhile boil a full kettle, then add the potatoes and hot water to the pan, and sprinkle over the stock cubes.
I used to dissolve stock cubes in boiling water before adding it. However, this left sludge in the bottom of the measuring jug which seemed a waste, so now I crumble the cubes straight into the saucepan and give it a good stir. If you’ve had a go at making your own veg stock with vegetable peelings, soup would be a great way to use it.
Bring the soup back up to simmering, and leave it to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the chopped potato has softened.
Chuck in the frozen peas, bring back to the boil, and simmer for 3 minutes or so.
Turn off the heat and add the shredded mint and most of the ham hock. If you want to make it look nice, set aside some of the ham hock so you can sprinkle it on top of the bowls of soup just before serving. If you’re starving and just want to guzzle it right now, damn it, then just add the whole lot, and say pah to presentation.
Set to with a liquidizer or stick blender, and blend it until you’re happy it looks edible. If it’s still a bit thicker than you like, you can always cheat and add a tad more boiling water.
Serve – with or without a flourish of ham hock on top. Good with lots of pepper, although you might like to hold back on the salt, given the ham and stock cubes already make it quite salty.
I priced the ingredients up at Sainsbury’s, with the addition of my yellow-stickered mint and ham hock from the Co-op, because I buy value range frozen peas and stock cubes there.
5p for 10g butter (£1.30 for 250g Sainsbury’s unsalted butter)
6p for roughly 100g onion (90p for 1.5kg Sainsbury’s Greengrocers onions)
12p for 200g potatoes (£1.50 for 2.5kg Sainsbury’s white potatoes)
10p for 2 vegetable stock cubes (40p for 10 Sainsbury’s Basics vegetable stock cubes)
42p for 400g frozen peas (£1.25 for 1.2kg Sainsbury’s Basics frozen peas)
£1.20 for 140g pulled ham hock on the reduced section at the Co-op
6p for a quarter of a packet of mint (23p in the reduced section at the Co-op)
Total: £2.01 for four generous portions, so about half the price of fancy soup in a carton.
I should add, for anyone of a nervous disposition, that this soup does end up very green.
My husband was deeply suspicious about the sheer greeness but liked it a lot when he actually tasted it. It also gave him an excellent opportunity to make cracks about Blackadder: “It’s just like Percy! When he made a nugget of the purest green!”. Well yes, it is green. That’s hardly surprising given it’s MADE OF PEAS.
Anyone else have a favourite soup recipe? Or a favourite reaction from your nearest and dearest, when presented with your cooking? Do say, as I’d love to hear.