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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Better than Pea & Ham Soup

Two days into the new year Tesco offers little in the way of cut price sustenance. They are absolute beggars for  pushing not-very-special-offers this weather (you know, "50p each or 4 for £3" or as the picture shows, an offer of Indian snacks which was mindbogglingly poor value, yet which managed to clear the shelf.). The place was coming down with them.

I suppose you can't blame them for making a few quid out of silly sods who are so distracted by yellow barkers that they lose the ability to do simple division. The 800g of Taw Valley Cheddar (a very pedestrian cooking cheese which I stockpiled at 30p per 400g just before Christmas!) for £10 made me laugh out loud.

However amidst the highway robbery I did notice lovely big 3lb gammon joints reduced to £3.50 and I picked up a 1lb smoked kielbasa (Polish sausage) for 50p! A pack of soup vegetables and we're ready to go make the sort of soup that will raise the dead (and may need to given the chesty colds flying around).

The killer ingredient for me was using chana dal instead of split peas. Chana dal is a split Bengal chickpea - it's very nutty and tasty but miraculously it keeps its shape when cooked. It's my all time favourite pulse but I have never tried it in soup till now. I'll be doing this again, the flavour was tremendous and I got about 3lb of delicious cooked ham and sausage mix for the freezer out of it too. So this is real feed an army for a fiver stuff! You can get chana dal in the bigger supermarkets or in your local Asian grocers.

Better-than-pea-and-ham-soup Soup
3lb unsmoked gammon
1lb smoked kielbasa
2 onions, peeled and halved
1 pack prepared soup veg, washed (choose one with hardly any carrot but plenty of leek & parsley)
12oz chana dal

Put everything except the dal in a stockpot, cover in water, bring to boil, skim any foam off the surface, simmer for two hours. Remove the meat, liquidise the veg into the stock. Add the dal, boil for 10 mins, simmer for an hour. When the gammon has cooled, remove all skin and fat and chop up the lean meat; chop the kielbasa up too. Return about a pound of it back to the soup. Freeze the rest of the meat, it will make good pie filling, pasta sauce base or could be added to a chicken casserole.

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