A bowl of warm soup and fresh bread is the perfect warmer to an Autumn evening. I love this soup as its one that my mum made us when were were growing up. Its not something that you see on a restaurant menu, so it really does feel like a home comfort dinner. Also perfect for a family on a budget, this soup is great value for money but so tasty!


Serves 8-10

Freezes well for up to 3 months.



2 Tbs olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

2 large celery stalks, chopped

2 bay leaves

Pinch salt and pepper

8 cloves of garlic, chopped

free range ham hock (approx 800g)

1 cup pearl barley

4 thyme sprigs, 1 small bunch of sage and 2 bay leaves tied with kitchen string (or in muslin cloth) 

5 small Desiree potatoes, chopped (approx 350g)

1/4 (400g) cabbage, shredded


To serve

Pea shoots (or parsley)

Ciabatta bread and butter


Step 1

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot. Cook the onion, carrots and celery with the a small pinch of salt (just to help soften the vegetables, dont add too much as the bacon hocks are very salty) pepper and bay leaves for 8mins until soft. Add garlic, cook for 2 mins, stirring until fragrant. Add the hock pearl barley and thyme. Add enough water to cover (about 3L) bring to the boil then reduce to medium low heat. Cook for 2-3hours - depending on the size of the hock i had 2 smaller ones, or until meat is tender, topping up with more water if needed.


Step 2

Remove hock, cool slightly. discard akin and bone and roughly chop meat. Set aside.


Step 3

Add the potatoes to the soup and cook over a medium heat for a further 30mins or broth is thick and cloudy, adding more liquid if it's too thick. Add the cabbage and cook for a further 15mins. Taste and season if needed. Reserve a little of the the ham for garnish and stir the remainder through the soup.


Step 4

Divide among bowls, top with pea shoots and serve.

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