I’m not sure who loathes winter more, Merlot or me. I figure she gets the prize, what with having to dodge the Cape rain to go ‘do her business’ outside. (It’s amazing how quick a cat can be when she needs to.) Nonetheless, it’s a close call. A steaming bowl of thick split pea soup packed with smokey, meaty flavour is one of the few things I appreciate about winter. With just three ingredients, this is one of my all-time favourites – real lazy-cook stuff. Best of all, it will feed six for under R50! Double up on this recipe and freeze individual portions – perfect for icy winter evenings when all you want to do is huddle in front of the fire in your passion-killer bunny slippers.
All you need is…
1 large smoked Eisbein (Checkers often stocks it)
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 packet split peas
Put the meat, onion and a quarter teaspoon crushed black pepper in a thick-bottomed stock pot and only just cover with lukewarm water. Bring to the boil, cover and cook slowly on a low heat for two and a half to three hours. This is laid-back Saturday afternoon stuff, it can’t be hurried. Check occasionally to see if more water is needed, but don’t overdo it (you don’t want your final soup too watery). As long as the hock is covered halfway, you’re good.
When the meat is fall-off-the-bone soft, it’s ready. Remove it and set aside to cool. Now add the split peas to the water you cooked the meat in. Cook slowly until they’re soft and start to break up (50-60 minutes). Stir occasionally as they tend to stick to the bottom. In the meantime, strip the fatty layer off the hock and discard. Tear the meat into strips. Add the shredded meat to the soup once the peas are cooked. If you think it’s too thick, now’s the time to add a bit more water. Check for salt (it probably won’t need any as the smoked hock tends to be salty). A grinding of black pepper and your split pea soup is ready.