I am so loving the new soup pots! Having something so gorgeous makes me want to use them all the time, so I made soup again for dinner tonight. The other plus with this was that I got the pressure cooker out again. I really want to use it more often - it's so quick, but when I was first given it (it originally belonged to my late Nan), I hardly used it. Pressure cookers do seem rather to have gone out of fashion, but they are so quick and so good. I use it most for puddings, steak and kidney mainly (my number-one favourite), but also for steamed sponge puds and of course the Christmas pudding. It proves to be fabulous with soups like this one, but if you don't have a pressure cooker, you can simmer the soup for between one and one-and-a-half hours until the splits peas are collapsing. Seeing as in the pressure cooker it only needs 15 minutes, you'll understand the appeal, I'm sure. I had some prosciutto that we got cheap and stored in the freezer for cooking with, but any cured ham, pancetta or smoked streaky bacon would be a fine substitute. For that matter, you could leave it out entirely if you want a vegetarian option; the soup will still have plenty of flavour, though I would posit that you might need rather more seasoning in that case.
Split Pea Soup with Prosciutto
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh rosemary
100g prosciutto, chopped (see above)
200g yellow split peas
1.2 litres vegetable stock, hot
fresh parsley (optional)
Heat some olive oil in the pressure cooker (or a large pan). Fry the onion, carrot and celery with the rosemary until just soft. Stir in the bits of prosciutto, then add the split peas. Pour in the hot vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Either put the lid on the pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes, or simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Purée, preferably with a hand-held stick blender to save on washing up, then reheat the oup and season to taste. I like to garnish the soup with a scattering of roughly chopped parsley, but it's not obligatory, just aesthetic really.
Serve with some good bread and, for our taste, a couple of types of cheese. Tonight we had some really good, local Caerphilly and a piece of sharp, crumbly Lancashire.