Spilt Pea and zucchini soup

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The soup today is mum’s recipe. It is made with zucchini and dried green split peas which I always have in my store cupboard. Split peas are very high in protein and low in fat and they give the soup a distinct earthy flavor. All you need to do is soak the split peas overnight and if you wish to speed up the time they take to soften add 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 125g of dried split peas during the boiling process, not before when you are soaking them as this destroys the vitamin content. When you boil the split peas use a large pot with plenty of water on medium heat to prevent sticking. It may sound like a lot of trouble but it is worth it and if you are at home anyway, they can boil away while you do something else.

Mum uses off-the-bone gammon in hers.

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You will need:

125g dried split peas, soaked, boiled, softened and rinsed
1 kg zucchini, chopped up
1 bay leaves
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Fresh thyme
Squeeze of lemon
100g off the bone ham or if you are vegetarian, substitute with a vegetable stock cube
Water, enough to completely immerse everything plus 3 cups

In a large pot drizzle some olive oil and sweat the onions, add the garlic, stirring occasionally.

Add the zucchini, potato, bay leaf, thyme and softened split peas, salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock or water, the chopped up gammon (this is optional), squeeze of a lemon and bring to boil. Simmer and cook on low heat for an hour. Do not forget to keep stirring occasionally.

Remove the bay leaf.

Transfer the soup to a food processor. I use a hand blender and puree until smooth, processing in batches until you have a smooth purée. If it is too thick, add more water. If you would like a richer texture add milk or single cream. We tend to avoid this especially during the week !

To serve, reheat the soup but do not boil.

Serve the soup into individual bowls and if you like garnish with crispy bacon ..

This soup freezes well.