German Style Smoked Gammon and Split Pea Stew

Smoked Gammon Split Pea Soup-by Meeta K. Wolff-Cover

Imagine that stories were like a stew or a soup. People could weave their stories with ladles of wonderful rich, thick and flavorsome ingredients, adding their own culturally unique seasoning to their tales. Just like stews, all cultures and each tradition intertwines its own specific aromas and tastes – and so their stories could be spicy, sweet, bitter or pungent.

Imagine however if we were served the same bland broth every day. There was nothing saucy or spicy about it, lacking in zest and taste, we were confronted with a flat insipid brew day-in-day-out. Our stews requires a skilful cook to combine diverse ingredients, cleverly pairing an assortment of flavors and aromas to create a soul satisfying dish, in the same way our stories depend on the variety of cultures, religions and traditions represented by the people who stand behind them. The storyteller’s experiences pepper his story making it distinct, compelling, exotic and engaging to the rest of us. Just like we have no appetite for a watery and tasteless broth, our inner core has no desire for banal and characterless fables.

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Building a wall around our wisdom and intelligence and banning cultures and societies has all the makings of that very bland broth we do not want to be served. Not today, not tomorrow – never – not when we know that there are vibrant ingredients and piquant expertise to enrich and spice up our way of life. If we can open up our kitchens to foreign and exotic ingredients and flavors allowing Indian spices, Mexican jalape├▒os, Arabic zaatar, African yams, Chinese noodles or Japanese rice to enrich our stews, opening our hearts to the stories from foreign cultures will cultivate and season our minds.

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Yesterday my shopping route took me, besides my regular market visit, to the Asian store, the Syrian store, the Turkish store then the organic store. As I got into the car to head back home I thought how absolutely lucky I am to have the luxury of this diverse range. I felt enriched and happier as at each of these stores I chatted to the store owners. We talked politics (number one topic currently), told stories of our family issues and shared food recipes and tips. If Germany's immigrant policy would have been any different, I / we would not have this huge advantage of diverse lifestyles and wonderful insight and exchange of cultures. At the university where I work, we have a saying "Wir sind bunt!" It translates to "We are colorful!" reinstating it, it is not just the color of skin but also the colorful characters, vibrant cultures, insightful religions and knowledgeable experience that makes for a very flavorful stew!

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Smoked Gammon Split Pea Soup-by Meeta K. Wolff-0127

My smoked gammon and split pea soup is very much inspired by the German kitchen. The “Erbsensuppe” is a well known stew served commonly during winter at many ski resorts in Germany and Austria. While Weimar certainly is not a ski resort but the last few weeks it has been freakishly cold. While thick socks, fleecy blankets and flannels did a lot to keep the cold away we relied on such hearty stews to warm us from the inside.

There are so many wonderful layers of flavors in this stew making it not only a grand weeknight family dinner but can very well be served as an informal dinner with friends. Smoked gammon adds that amazing husky rustic aroma to the soup. While the root vegetables bring out the slight sweetness, the split peas emphasize the bold rustic taste.

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Note: Many people get confused by the difference between gammon and ham. There is not much of a difference to be honest! Both gammon and ham are cuts from the hind legs of a pig, and are either salted, brined, or smoked. Salting preserves food by drawing the moisture out, therefore allowing the meat to mature safely and to develop flavor. If you cannot find gammon in your stores by all means use a good cured ham instead.

Recipe: Smoked Gammon and Split Pea Stew

By
Prep Time:
Total Time:
Serves: 6


Ingredients

  • 400g green split peas, picked through, small stones discarded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-5 springs each marjoram and thyme
  • 2 litres vegetable stock
  • 900g smoked gammon, sliced and cut into cubes
  • 100g bacon cubes
  • pinch of brown sugar
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • Parsley
  • Salt and pepper





Method

  1. Put the split peas in a bowl, cover with water and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add carrot, onion and parsnip and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften - this should take about 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the split peas and add them to the pot. Add the bay leaf, herbs, broth and approx. 800g of the gammon cubes. Give it a good stir, bringing the liquid to a boil over high heat. Make sure you stir regular to keep the peas from sticking to the bottom and scorching. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for a good hour / hour and half or until the split peas are are soft and have broken down and the soup is thickened considerably. If you find it too thick just add some water or stock if available.
  4. While the soup is simmering heat a non-stick frying pan on high heat. Add the bacon cubes and fry until the fat is released, then add the remaining 100g gammon cubes. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar to allow the bacon and gammon to caramelize in their own fat. Stir to keep form sticking to pan.
  5. Taste the stew and adjust seasoning accordingly.
  6. To serve, ladle the stew into bowls, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with bacon and gammon, a few pumpkin seeds and scatter with chopped parsley




Verdict

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What I truly love about this stew, besides the wonderful savory and hearty taste, is the amazing textures that come together. It is the kind of soulfood that one needs to comfort when the world looses its balance and you need a moment to find your bearings. When much around you stops making sense and within a matter of two weeks a lot of what was valued and cherished seems to have come undone. This stew is not the answer but it is a booster to help us resist!

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24 comments:

  1. This looks really delicious! It's wonderful how other cultures influence the food we eat and enrich our lives in other ways too. It's a shame not everyone sees it that way.

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  2. That sounds like really nice recipe! I used to live in Germany and I really miss German food!

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  3. i bet the smoked gammon gives this an amazing flavour. They do comfort food well in Germany

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  4. I always love a big bowl of hearty soup or stew this time of the year! ...and with the foot of snow we're getting tomorrow, I best be running to the grocery store today so that I can enjoy this during the storm!

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  5. This split pea soup looks so good and it's perfect for the kind of weather we are having now in NM. I have most of these ingredients if not all. Can't wait to make it.

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  6. What a beauty! This stew sounds great for this sort of weather and I love the photography.

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  7. A trip to the Asian market followed by the Syrian market and the Turkish market (neither of which my town has, mind you!) sounds like a dreamy day. I had never heard of gammon, but I'm relieved to know that it can be interchangeable with ham. These flavors upon flavors sound absolutely delicious!

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  8. This looks like a delicious stew, and I love the idea of a tour of so many types of stores. What a rich experience, not only for your diet, but for you sense of knowing so many different kinds of people.

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  9. Such a lovely post and photos, this looks like a bowl of comfort! :)

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  10. What I love the most about this post is the great quality of the food photos! You have a great camera and a good eye for photography.
    I am salivating and hungry just by looking at that stew. Yummy!

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  11. This stew looks good and it is the perfect antidote to winters cold! Can't wait to dig in x

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  12. Meeta.. Your posts always bring a smile on my face.. I am loving your new set of props in this post .. and yes , I will come back to look at the Stew Recipe sans Bacon and Gammon.

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  13. Wow what a colorful and yummy looking stew. I can't wait to try this recipe. It'e been raining lately and this would be so comforting.

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  14. I love split pea soup. I have never heard of this version before but I need to give it a try.

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  15. I love the comparison between people and stew. There are different flavors and blends and it's always nice to get to know them. This stew looks divine! Thanks for the recipe.

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  16. It really is wonderful when food culture and traditions influence our recipes. Your Smoked Gammon and Split Pea Soup looks so wholesome, colourful and delicious!

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  17. Yum this look amazing! It also look very colourful! x

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  18. Of course you have the most beautiful pictures and this soup is perfect for the middle of February. Can't wait to make this recipe!

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  19. Such a gorgeous stew! I love the saying- Wir sind bunt. Something that many people seem to forget lately.

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  20. This sounds absolutely stunning! I love gammon and I can just see myself tucking into this on a cold evening. I also adore your mugs!

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  21. This recipe looks delicious. I have most of the ingredients in my kitchen right now.

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  22. This looks stunning! The Germans sure know how to make a proper stew and I could demolish this right now!
    Katja xxx
    www.katnapped.com

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  23. Sounds super yummy and healthy at the same time. Might try to make it too :)

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  24. I’ve been searching for a split pea soup recipe and this looks perfect – excited to try it for tomorrow’s lunch!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta