Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Crockpot soup---not just a load of old 'crock---well, yes it is actually!

It’s winter, finally in Auckland. After a very mild start, temperatures have started to peat at around 13-14C after sometimes reaching 19c. I know that those in more southern climes laugh at us ‘softies’ in Auckland. They have been getting much lower temperatures. Hey, that’s because you live closer to the Antarctic, my friends! OK, let’s leave those silly parochial chit-chats behind and look at something----nice----comforting ----and cheap. It’s time to dig out that old crockpot you have stored or the new one that we now call a ‘slow cooker.’ I still use my 30 year old Sunbeam crockpot, the one with the Temuka ‘inner.’ They don’t make them like that anymore and like many products from days of old----they last! Whatever you have, get it out----now! Now go through your cupboards. Maybe you have some split peas or some of those bulk ‘soup mixes; the ones you got from the ‘Bin Inn’ or the supermarket. You don’t? Oh well, off you trot, down to the supermarket or dairy (corner shop) and buy a packet of soup mix, one that already has the ‘stock powder in it,’ but if not, just buy some stock cubes. You may still have to go to a butcher or supermarket for the next bit of my soup recipe. I always try to have the making of a good hearty soup recipe on hand, so that I don’t have to head out on a yucky day. OK, at the supermarket, head for the ‘meat section and look for a bacon or ham hock. Sorry vegetarians or Halal enthusiasts, this one’s for the ‘meat eaters! But one can substitute a few meaty beef bones if pork products are not gonna hit the spot. Pick yourself out a nice big one because this recipe is for lots of people. In my case it is to feed the ‘Health Academy’ a healthy and cheap lunch for a special occasion they are having tomorrow. I want the soup to cook all day and then cook off in the fridge overnight, so that it can be heated up in the morning while the students are ‘doing their thing.’ I stick in the soup mix, which in this case is about a cup and a half of yellow split peas, and a cup of soup mix with the stock powder already in. Remember you can add a couple of stock cubes (Chicken is fine) if you accidentally pick up a soup mix that doesn’t have the ‘flavourings.’ Now put the ham or bacon hock in and cover with water. Turn the crockpot to auto or low and forget about it. Don’t forget to put the lid on. It will not burn so don’t worry. If it does, you have put it on too high a setting! When I get home from work, I shall take the hock out and shred the soft moist yummy meat (No, don’t be tempted to ma e a meaty sandwich!) and stick it back into the pot, leaving off any really fatty skin, if you must. Now let it cool a bit and then stick it in the fridge. All I have to do now, is to remember to take it to school in the morning and once again---if you really feel the need to skim off any excess fat, do so---but with these cold temperatures, I don’t think I will. (I am sure my dear friend who I am doing this for will text me and remind me to ‘put the soup in the car!) For those a little more adventurous, (Me!) just add some white pepper, a couple of cloves and some bay leaves to the soup when it’s cooking. That just gives it a ‘lift.’ Make some scones (USA and Canadians call them biscuits) or if you are in a hurry, but some long French sticks and butter. The kids will lap it up and guess what---this is a very cheap and healthy family meal that I fondly remember coming home to Mum’s version of this on many Fridays in the winter, all those years back. Thanks for the recipe and knowledge of ‘things good and hearty, Dear Mum. Hope the students enjoy and try making it for it for themselves and their families.