This soup brings back many memories of what I thought were cold winter nights in Australia. This soup makes a warming and satisfying meal on a really cold winters night when all you want to do is cuddle up on the sofa with a really good book.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
100g split peas, rinsed
100g barley, rinsed
100g red lentils, rinsed
100g green lentils, rinsed
500g ham bones or smoked bacon bones with meat
3 litres of vegetable stock or water (you may use a stock cube)
maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
handful of parsley
2 sprigs of thyme
String for tying them together
Slices of warm bread with plenty of butter (I like a cheese bread with this soup)
Soup: Place the olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole pan over a moderate high heat. When the oil is hot add the onions and sweat them for a couple of minutes until soft and transparent. Add the leeks to the pan and cook for a minute until they are soft. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and stir them together until well distributed.
Herbs: Tie the herbs together with cooking string (this may be attached to the pan handle if you wish). Add these to the soup and leave the soup to cook gently for 2 hours, stirring at regular intervals to redistribute the ingredients. If the liquid seems to low add a little more water or stock.
After 2 hours the the beans and meat should be tender and the soup well flavoured. If you wish you can leave the soup for up to 3 hours to cook but add more water or stock as necessary.
Remove the herbs that are tied together from the soup. Carefully scoop out the ham bones, shred the meat from them and dice it roughly. Return the shredded ham to the soup. Return the soup to a strong simmer and season it with salt and pepper to taste. The soup should be thick but if it seems too thick add some water or stock.
To Serve: Distribute the hot soup among serving bowls. Serve the soup with plenty of warm bread and butter.