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The perfect winter soup with Matt Leahy

The days are getting shorter as we desperately cling to the lingering rays of what felt like an everlasting summer.

You might have a few extra blankets on the bed,  not having fully committed yet to winter by turning on the heater, but make no mistake – winter is coming .

Chef Matt Leahy, of Ultimo Catering, has the remedy for those winter blues with his smoked ham hock, garden pea & watercress soup recipe.



Smoked ham hock, garden pea & watercress soup


50ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 medium onion diced

1 medium carrot diced

2 garlic cloves, fine mince

1 celery stalk diced

1 fresh bay leaf

20g thyme

3 each smoked ham hock

2litre chicken stock

1kg frozen peas

120g crème fraiche

50g watercress

Pinch of nigella seeds





Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid over medium heat.

Add onion, carrot, garlic, celery, bay leaf and thyme.  Cook until soft.


Add the ham hocks and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low.


Simmer for 2hrs or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then strain through a fine sieve, reserving the ham hock and remove the vegetables.


Return the stock to pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.  Add the peas and cook through. Remove from heat.


In a blender, blend the peas and stock till silky smooth, adding seasoning to taste. Return to pan and stir over medium heat to warm through.


Shred the ham hock in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season to taste, toss evenly.  Divide the ham hock like little islands in serving bowls and pour in the pea soup.  Crown with a quenelle of crème fraiche, some peppery watercress leaves and a sprinkle of Nigella seeds.


Download this podcast here

Tod Johnston