Currently we’re in the midst of winter in Sydney, and what’s better in the cold weather than a hearty winter soup to warm the cockles. This is my go-to recipe mainly because you can chop and change it to use up veggies you already have in your fridge or just put in whatever you feel like (or is on special that week).
I like to use my slow cooker for this recipe and let it cook for 8 hours, you can still use a big pot on the stove top but my preferred method is slow cooker.
I used the following for my soup, like I said before this soup is really customisable to your taste preferences.
1L of stock, I use a combination of 500ml Chicken Sock & 500ml Vegetable stock
Vegetables – you can really use whatever you have but I always make sure to put 2 x sticks of Celery and 1 x Carrot because it gives such a nice flavour. I also added in another Carrot, Parsnip, Green Beans (fresh from the garden!), Swede, Sweet Potato & Kale (also fresh from the garden).
Beans & Legumes – I always put whole green lentils in, for this batch I used 1 Cup but I generally usually only use 1/2 Cup. I also like to add in some beans, this time I used tinned butter beans.
Pasta/Quinoa – I used Quinoa (trying to be a bit healthier) and I suggest using 1/2 Cup. I also really like using risoni pasta as well (carrrrrrrbs!).
Herbs – I always use a Bay Leaf or 2, Mixed Italian Herbs and some fresh garlic and pepper.
Smoked Ham Hock – If you’re a vegetarian, you can skip this but if you’re not you must add this in. I think the Ham Hock is the star of the dish, it gives all of the flavour and a delicious salty taste (don’t add any extra salt).
All you need to do is chop up your vegetables (try and keep them a similar size so they cook evenly). Add all the vegetables to the pot but hold back on the Kale for now, you’ll be adding that later.
Add your Lentils and Beans.
Cover the vegies with the 1L of stock & add your herbs to taste (I generally just eyeball it and I probably use a lot more garlic than the average person… Love it!).
Give it a big stir and add in your ham hock, making sure that the liquid completely covers it. If it’s coming up a bit short just add in a little bit of water (trust me, there will be so much flavour in this soup you won’t even notice).
Pop the lid on and set your slow cooker to low. Keep giving it a stir every couple of hours (it’s not essential but I kind of like tasting it every few hours anyway to see if it needs anything else).
At around hour 6 check the Ham Hock and if the meat is falling away from the bone you need to take it out. Now you need to remove the skin from the ham hock, remove all the bones and shred all the delicious meat and put it back in the pot. Bin the skin and bones…yuck! If your Ham Hock is still resisting coming away from the bone, give it some more time and just check it every half hour (it’ll get there eventually).
At hour 7 you can now add in your Quinoa or Pasta & give everything a good stir. You can also throw in your Kale now or any other quick cooking vegetable you might be adding like Spinach, Cabbage etc. Taste again to see if you need to add any seasoning, or just so you can see how great your soup tastes by now 🙂
By the 8th hour it should be good and cooked, serve up with some delicious fresh bread. You’ll likely have leftovers for lunch the next few days (this recipe makes a huge batch). It tastes even better then next day.