This is a sure-to-impress soup recipe. We like using a pork hock here, rather than a bacon hock as it gives more of a sweet, smoky flavour to the soup, but bacon hock is perfectly fine too (just gives more of a saltier smoke taste). Bacon hocks are easier to find at the supermarket and usually at a better price in the cooler months. Make sure you make plenty of this grunty soup to freeze, or to give to friends in need of some winter warmth love.

We like making this soup in a large pot, but do use your crockpot or a casserole dish in the oven if more convenient. A crockpot takes three times as long, but a tenth of the power, and you just need to remember to add the vegetables and chickpeas halfway through. A casserole will take approximately three hours in a regular oven at 180 degrees Celcius.

(Note the quantities are variable, allowing you to decide how soupy or stewy you would like your soup).

To make Spanish Peasant Soup, you will need:
– 1 Tablespoon oil
– 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
– 2 large onions, finely diced
– 1-2 large fresh pork hocks, skin removed (fresh pork hocks are readily available at Asian butchers, but using bacon hock is also suitable)
– 1-2 cans crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
– 2-4 litres of water
– 2 teaspoons of paprika (preferably smoked paprika or a mix of the two)
– Half to a teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or chilli powder/flakes)
– 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
– 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
– 1-2 carrots, finely diced
– Diced vegetables of your liking (about 3 cups): beans, courgettes, capsicums, pumpkin, potatoes, broccoli, silverbeet, turnip, parsnip, spinach, mushrooms, celery, kumara etc. Whatever your family prefers or what you have on hand.
– 1-2 cans of cooked chickpeas, cannelini beans, borlotti beans, kidney beans or a mixture of all
– Ground rock salt and black pepper to taste

How to make Spanish Peasant Soup:
Sweat the onion and garlic in oil (I like chilli oil but whatever you prefer) for three minutes. Place the pork hock (or bacon hock), tomatoes, water, herbs, sugar, carrot and the pre-soaked chickpeas/beans (if using) into a large pot and simmer, semi-covered for 2-3 hours, or until the pork hock is quite tender. Remove the hock to another dish to cool.
Now add the diced vegetables, and if using the canned ones, the chickpeas and beans to the soup. Remove and discard the fat from the hock, then return the roughly chopped hock meat back to your soup. Bring the pot back to the simmer and cook for a further half hour until the vegetables are very tender.
Taste and season with ground rock salt and black pepper.
Serve with plenty of chopped parsley, a drizzle of good olive oil, warm crusty bread and a glass of red wine.
Soup recipe serves 6.

Christine’s variations and tips:
– Replace pork hocks with bacon/ham hocks – this will give a saltier, smokier flavour to the soup.
– Try using lamb shanks instead of pork hocks, but use 3 or 4 as they are smaller – a completely different taste but still delicious.
– A tasty nutritious vegetarian option to the soup can be obtained by using a good vegetable stock, increasing the canned tomatoes and simmering all the ingredients until well cooked. Serve this version with cubes of fresh white cheese such as fresh mozzarella, haloumi, shaved parmesan or pecorino romano.
– You can use dried chickpeas or beans in this soup recipe. I use dried chickpeas, soak them overnight, drain them and put them in at the beginning of the cooking process with the pork hock to cook slowly.

Appreciation to The Casual Foodie for the inspiration.

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