Ham and Leek Soup

This is a soup to make if you have cooked a ham joint and had the good sense to save the cooking water. Trimmings from the ham bolster the thick, chunky soup, loaded with carrot, leek and giant wholewheat cous cous to turn it into more of a meal. It’s the sort of soup I also make with pulled ham hock – the sort sold in a set of two cartons but torn ham, the thicker the slices the better – using a chicken stock cube. Either way, it’s a meal in bowl.

Serves 4

Prep: 25 min

Cook: 35 min

1 onion

25g butter

1 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves

1 bay leaf

250g carrot

2 trimmed leeks (approx 200g)

1 tsp finely chopped thyme and rosemary

1/2 tbsp flour

1.4ml ham or other stock

75g giant wholewheat cous cous

200-300g ham hock chunks

chives or flat leaf parsley

Halve, peel and finely chop the onion and begin softening in butter and oil in a spacious, lidded pan. Peel and thinly slice the garlic in rounds. Add the bay leaf to the onion, peel the carrot and cut into thin slices, the carrot halved if very fat. Halve the leeks lengthways, slice across into thin half moons, agitate in a bowl of cold water and drain. Stir leeks into the onion with the thyme and rosemary, cover and sweat with a pinch salt for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour – this helps suspend the ingredients, so they don’t all sink to the bottom – and add 500ml stock. Bring to the boil, stirring regularly. Simmer briskly for 5 minutes, add remaining stock, carrots and cous cous. Simmer steadily, the pan partially covered, for about 20 minutes until carrots are tender, the cous cous plump and soft. Stir in the ham, return to simmer then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped chives or flat leaf parsley just before serving.