This month’s theme here at the Sunday Supper Movement is GREEN, partly due to the fact that Spring started this month. Five days ago, to be exact. And yet, I woke up to find another blanket of snow outside my window this morning. I’m tired of white blankets.
I want tender green buds on tree limbs. I want tenacious green shoots pushing through the earth. I want birds chirping their morning gossip so fervently outside my bedroom window that I have no choice but to wake up! And darnit all, I want to hang up my bulky winter coat and not lay eyes on it again until December.
But since Mother Nature is giving me no choice in the matter, I have to make do. So, while I would give almost anything to walk outside and see lacy little pea shoot tendrils winding their way up a thin wooden trellis, I have to wait a little longer. Fortunately green peas are (in my opinion) the one Spring vegetable that tastes almost as good even after it’s been frozen. Almost. And who doesn’t have at least one bag of peas tucked away in their freezer?
This humble bowl of soup bridges the gap between Winter and Spring. It’s hearty enough to match that white blanket outside my window, yet it’s studded with tiny green orbs of hope. Hope and a promise that soon the GREEN will prevail.
- For the soup:
- 1-1/2 pounds smoked ham
- 2 small onions small dice
- 3 sticks celery small dice
- 3 large carrots rough chop
- 3 bay leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound green peas fresh or frozen
- 3 sprigs rosemary leaves picked & chopped
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- For the dumplings:
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter cold
- freshly grated nutmeg
Remove the meat from any bone, skin, and fat. Cut into ¾" thick slices. Place the slices in a large, dep pan (at least 9" wide). Add onion, celery, carrots, bay leaves, and a smattering of pepper to the pan. Cover with 12 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Put on the lid, then turn heat down to a simmer. Let cook for 1½ hours, skimmy foam every now and again.
While this is simmering, make the dumplings. Place flour in a bowl with baking powder and a pinch of salt. Using a box grater, grate your cold butter into the bowl along with a few good grates of nutmeg. Add about ¼ cup of cold water and then, using your hand, work everything into a ball of dough. It should be firm and fairly malleable. Add another drizzle or two more water if it seems to dry. Work quickly so that your body heat doesn't melt all the butter.
Dust a tray with flour and then divide the dough into 12 fairly equal pieces, roll into balls, and place on tray. Refrigerate until needed.
When cooking time is up, either pull your meat into shreds or pieces using a couple of forks or remove to a cutting board and use a knife. Return to pot. Bring back to a boil then add the peas, rosemary, and lemon zest. Plop in the reserved dumpling dough. Turn heat down to medium and allow to simmer for another 15-20 minutes to allow the dumplings to plump up and cook through.
I used the meat from a couple pounds of smoked ham shanks, but you could use any smoked pig part like hocks or steaks.
-adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain