Pureed split peasIt’s a bit of a stretch, putting the recipe for this soup on this blog, as it comes out at 480 calories per serving, so would constitute the only meal a woman on the 5:2 diet could eat on a fasting day, and wouldn’t leave a man a lot of spare calories either. Having said that, it is amazingly filling, so if you are saving all your calories for one meal, then this should keep you satiated until bedtime.

This is a traditional London split-pea and ham hock soup, named for the capital’s own version of the horrendous thick yellow ‘peasouper’ smogs which plagued large cities in the days when everyone burned coal in their fireplaces.

I’d never cooked ham hocks before and you don’t often see cuts like this in the supermarkets here in Canada, so I bought two a few months ago and they’ve been taking up freezer space ever since while I tried to work out what to do with them. Then I noticed Fiona Maclean’s Best of British – London blog post about sharing recipes for London foods and the idea of using the hocks to make a London Particular began to take shape in my head. Fiona’s also sharing recipes for the 5:2 diet, by the way.

The soup is made from very low-cost ingredients (ideal in these austere times!) – I worked out that the total cost per serving today was under $2 (around £1.25), partly because the meat was 30% off.

One branch of my family were impoverished silk weavers in London’s East End in the late nineteenth century and this is probably the sort of cheap and yet cheerful food they would have consumed. I’ve stuck to ingredients which would have been readily available to my London ancestors, so this is a very simple recipe, but no less satisfying for that.

Recipe for London Particular soup (serves 4)

2 ham hocks (mine were unsmoked, but smoked would have been even better, if you can find them)
2 cups yellow split peas
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled

Total calories per serving: 480

Method: Cover the hocks with water, bring to the boil and cook over a low heat for 2 hours. Strain off the liquid and keep it for cooking the peas. Rinse the split peas and then put them in a pan with a litre of the reserved water from the hocks, the onion and the carrots. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 45 minutes or until the peas are soft.

Shredded ham hock meatWhen it is cool enough to handle, shred the meat from the hocks with your fingers, removing the skin and any fatty bits, and set aside. I found that the two hocks yielded 300g of meat. It should be very tender and fall easily off the bones.

Purée the pea mixture in a blender, then stir in the shredded meat and season to your taste. With unsmoked hocks you will need more salt than you would with smoked ones.

London Particular soup

Can you imagine walking through fog that colour? Nice in your mouth, not so good in your lungs!