Well, comfort food is Pea and Ham Soup. You know the kind of day, everything, but everything goes wrong, The kids have been a pain from the moment they opened their eyes, your boss even worse, the dry cleaner was closed by the time you made it there and you made the mistake of hanging the washing outside and it has poured all day! Its cold and dark and you are running late to collect the children.

Worse still, you know the family will raise their eyebrows in silent complaint if you mention home delivery again. It is moments like these one needs emergency supplies. A big pot of soup in the fridge or freezer and life can seem a little more sensible. Thick soup, sensibly nuked long and slow (medium) means you don’t have to stand there stirring and don’t risk scorching the bottom. Best of all there will be time for a G&T or a glass of red and a return to sanity.

Few soups are as filling or popular as Pea and Ham Soup, and it is the ultimate one pot meal and it freezes brilliantly.


comfort food

makes approximately 4L
freezes well

1kg blue boilers or split green peas, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
2kg bacon ribs, cut into ribs or smoked hocks cuts into big chunks
125g butter or equivalent
EV olive oil
500g onions p/w, roughly chopped
10g Maldon sea salt
3g black pepper, freshly ground
10g minced ginger/garlic
1–2 Thai chillies, finely sliced – optional
300g carrots p/w, roughly chopped
100g celery, sliced
2 bay leaves
handful parsley, thyme, stalked and roughly chopped



Select a large heavy based saucepan, add the butter/oil and place it on medium heat. Add the onions season lightly with salt and generously with pepper and sauté until golden. Add the ginger/garlic, chilli, carrot and celery and continue cooking, stirring from time to time until they are caramelised. Add the herbs, blue boiler and ribs, stir over and cover by 10cm with cold water.

Simmer gently, stirring from time to time until the peas are soft and the rib meat failing from the bones. During the last half hour it must be stirred more frequently, as, as the soup thickens it can stick to the bottom and burn quite easily.

Taste and adjust seasoning as required.

Serve with… chunky croutons that have been fried in olive oil and lightly salted with some fine sea salt and everyone’s happy!

If you have a microwave always re–heat thick soups in it. We have found that medium heat for a longer period rewarms more evenly than high. 20 minutes will warm four serves, a quick stir and usually around another five minutes means it is evenly warmed through. Reheating like this is not quicker than conventional heating but, not only do you not have to stand there and stir there is absolutely no risk of forgetting it and ruining it by burning.

Re-Heating Wood Oven Bread Hold the bread under the coldwater tap for a minute or two and then10 -15 minutes in a pre heated 200°C oven. By the time the crust is crisp again the centre will be warm and refreshed.


winter food


Pictured left my friend Diana Hezel’s fantastic minestrone. Yes quite a bit of work but worth the effort click on the image to go to the recipe.