On one of those balmy, yet Cape wintery type days my husband and I were invited to lunch at some lovely friends of ours in their beautifully renovated old family home. It was one of those blissful afternoons spent cooking, sharing and laughing in the kitchen in between glasses of champagne. Whilst my friend and I nattered about this and that, the men drank beer, talked rugby and entertained the young kids as they excitedly ran in and out the house, chasing rugby balls, soccer balls and even the resident rooster. You know it was one of those special few hours where you completely forget about the troubles and stresses of the week, the chores or the unfinished laundry back at home. It was just one of those perfect afternoons.
Back in the kitchen, my friend made this amazing dish of ham hock, beans, chorizo and tomatoes – her husband was quick to say that despite his wife’s considerable resume of cooking qualifications and accomplishments that it was actually his dish – yes he claimed it! I was duly informed that there was no actual recipe and they just throw things together– it was thick and rich and perfect with a piece of bread at the bottom. This is my type of cooking. This is cooking at its best – it’s slow, it’s full of flavour and full of love.
Most of the time, I too cook without recipes but being a blogger I have since forced myself into the discipline of writing everything down. So here you go – this is my version of this splendid ham hock soup pot – it is so delish and so nurturing and perfect for a cold winter’s night. To make matters and preparation simple I decided to use three ingredients of everything – and it worked out perfectly. You need about 4 hours for this so it may be a good idea to make it the day before.
There is also no doubt that this soup needs to be prepared with love and working your way through a few glasses of good red wine, swapping stories and spending some carefree idle hours in the company of good friends.
Serves 12 (this keeps very well in the fridge for up to 5 days)
Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 4 hours
1 Ham hock – 1kg
3 Large carrots – finely chopped
3 Large onions – finely chopped
3 Celery sticks – finely chopped
3 Garlic cloves – finely chopped
3T Olive oil
3 Tins of tomatoes
3T Tomato paste
3 Stock cubes
3 L Water
3 Tins of butter beans
30g Chorizo sliced thinly (optional)
1. Fry the onions, carrots, celery and garlic over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
2. Then add all the other ingredients except the beans + chorizo + oats and simmer for 3 hours.
3. After 3 hours add the beans, chorizo and oats and simmer for another hour.
4. Take the hock out – shred the meat and discard the skin and fat. Throw the meat back in the soup and serve piping hot with a delicious gremolate and some chopped chillies. Oh, yes and some chunky freshly baked bread.