With a new television series and book just out, the Hairy Bikers share some more of their favourite dishes including this ham and pea soup.

  • 4-6
  • Easy


  • 300g split peas (green are traditional for this Finnish recipe, but yellow are fine)
  • Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 small ham hock
  • 1 onion, stuck with 2 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 blade of mace
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1tbsp hot mustard
  • 100ml whipping or double cream (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Soak the peas overnight in a big bowl of cold water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda – bicarb helps to soften pulses.

Put the ham hock in a large saucepan, cover it with cold water and bring to the boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and drain.

Rinse the ham hock and the saucepan to get rid of any starchy foam that may have accumulated.

Put the hock back in the pan and cover with 1.5-2 litres of water. Add the onion with cloves, the bay leaves and mace to the pan. It’s a good idea to tie them all in a piece of muslin, but it’s not essential.

Just remember they’re there and remove them before blending the soup. Bring the water to the boil and simmer for an hour.

Drain the split peas and rinse them well. Put them in a separate saucepan, cover with water and bring them to the boil, then boil hard for 10 minutes. Drain and add the split peas to the pan with the ham hock, along with the diced onion and carrot.

Simmer until the peas are tender – this will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Check the water level regularly and add a little extra if necessary – the soup shouldn’t be too thick.

Using tongs, fish the ham hock out of the pan and remove the onion, bay leaves and mace. Set the ham aside until it’s cool enough to handle, then break it up, pulling the meat into pieces and discarding the skin and bone.

Add the mustard to the soup, check the seasoning and add some black pepper to taste – you shouldn’t need any salt because of the ham. Blend to a rough puree – a quick whizz with a stick blender is all you need – then add some of the ham to the soup and warm it through. Lightly whip the cream, if using, and gently fold it into the soup, then garnish with the remaining ham and serve.

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