Soup glorious soup



It’s time for summer salads to give way for winter soups, and just in time for the big wet,  Belinda Jeffery’s given Verandah Magazine a fabulous soup – complete with ‘sippets’.

Split Pea and Ham Soup with Sippets

It never ceases to delight me the way just a few simple ingredients can be transformed into such a soothing and delicious meal with so little work. But remember ‘meal’ is the operative word here, for this soup really sticks to your ribs and I can’t imagine following it with a main course!

500g green split peas

1 large meaty ham hock*

1 bay leaf

2 large onions, peeled and chopped

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2.5 litres water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Garnish: continental parsley leaves and sippets (see recipe below)

*Ask your butcher to saw the hock into 3 or 4 pieces as it is much easier to fit these into the pan.

Split peas always need a good wash and soak before you use them, so the night before you want to make the soup, tip the peas into a large bowl and fill it with cold water. Swish the peas around with your hand – the water will become quite milky – then drain them. Do this another three or four times at least, until the water becomes relatively clear. Once that happens, cover the peas again with cold water and leave them to soak overnight in a cool spot. (A cool spot is important, because they can ferment if they’re too warm. This is something I learnt early in the piece, when we had an unseasonably warm autumn night – when I checked on the peas in the morning they were merrily bubbling away!)

The next day, rinse the peas well then drain them. Tip them into a very large saucepan or stock-pot and add the ham hock pieces, bay leaf, onion, potato and water. Bring the soup to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and let it simmer, partially covered, for about 1 ¼ -1 ½ hours until the peas and potatoes are mushy and disintegrating. Every so often while the soup is cooking, skim off any froth that floats on the surface. To check it’s ready, squash some pieces of potato against the side of the pan – they should fall apart easily.

When the soup is ready, remove the chunks of ham hock and reserve them. Discard the bay leaf. Puree the pea mixture (ideally with a stick blender so it can all be done in the same pan) then add salt and pepper, to taste.


As soon as the ham hock pieces are cool enough to handle, strip the meat from them, discarding any skin and fat. Chop the meat into little chunks and return it to the soup reserving a handful for garnishing. If the soup has cooled down a bit too much, warm it gently. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle each serve with some of the reserved ham and parsley leaves. Serve a bowlful of sippets separately. Serves 6.

P.S. As the soup sits it thickens even more, so if you make it ahead of time, you will have to thin it with more water when you reheat it.


These tiny little cubes of fried bread are awfully addictive and I invariably make heaps more than we need as at least half of them mysteriously disappear off the draining paper as soon as they are cool enough to eat! To make them, remove the crusts from slices of white or wholemeal bread, and cut the bread into small chunks (about 1 ½ cm). Pour olive oil into a large frying pan to the depth of 4mm or so, and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, toss in the bread cubes and cook, turning them regularly, until they’re golden all over – this doesn’t take long and you will need to keep an eye on them as they burn quite rapidly. As soon as they’re ready, scoop them out onto paper towels to drain. Pile them into a bowl and serve them with the soup. My mum used to fry the bread chunks in bacon fat which would probably not be considered quite the done thing these days, but gosh they were delicious!


Photographs: Rodney Weidland

For more information on Belinda Jefferey and her recipes go to:




Leave a Reply