Still on the subject of great produce from the NSW Southern Highlands, I'm sharing my recipe for this rib-sticker of a soup, created last week using a smoked pork hock from the good folks at Maugers Premium Quality Meats in Burrawang and Moss Vale.
To my surprise, the above (unstyled) photo, which was snapped just as I was above to serve our dinner, attracted a bevy of positive comments when I shared it on Instagram.
'Perfect for a cold winter's night,' said one reader. 'We need this recipe,' pleaded a couple of loyal followers. 'I wish I had done the hard yards so I could be eating that soup for dinner tonight,' sighed another.
Funnily enough, this was one of those shake-the-fridge-and-larder, made-from-scratch, thrown-together-quickly soups which, admittedly, was one of the best I've ever cooked.
Smoked hock is a favourite on my repertoire and when I spotted this fine specimen in the refrigerator at Maugers, the first thing that sprang to mind was that I had never seen a hock with the knuckle still attached. (Bearing in mind, I managed a fresh food market for a decade and there were four butcher shops on site).
'A value-added smoked pork hock, what a great find,' I thought to myself, as I reached in to grab it. I knew immediately that this piece of meat would be full of flavour.
Tins of chopped tomatoes, borlotti beans, red kidney beans, lentils and 'five bean mix' are among the canned ingredients which are always in my larder. I always have carrots and grape tomatoes in the house, along with smoked garlic and brown onions. And it goes without saying, there's parsley and other herbs in the garden. Plus, I had a bag of fregola sarda from Essential Ingredient. All of these being the makings of something delicious.
Given the size of the hock with knuckle, I needed to pull out 'the big guns', that is, my Morganware oval roaster-come-pot (pictured below). It's solid, enormous and is one of my favourite pieces of cookware. Actually, I sold dozens of them when I co-owned the cooking school and cookware store. I'm not sure that the company still makes them, but if you ever spot one, do consider investing in it.
RIB-STICKING SMOKED HOCK, BEAN & VEGETABLE SOUP WITH FREGOLA SARDA
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
1 large clove smoked garlic, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly diced
sea salt and cracked pepper, to season
1 good sized, good quality smoked pork hock
enough water to cover the hock
410g can chopped tomatoes
420g can five bean mix, drained*
420g can red kidney beans, drained*
2-3 tablespoons toasted fregola sarda
10 grape or cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Heat the olive oil in a deep stock pot or Dutch oven. Toss in the chopped onion, garlic and carrot, sprinkle with a little salt and sauté over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is golden. Place the hock over the top of the vegetables, followed by the tin of tomatoes, and enough water to cover the meat.
Bring to the boil, then pop a lid onto the pan, reduce heat and simmer gently for an hour, until the meat starts to loosen from the bone. Sometimes I cut slits through the meat at this stage, to release the full flavour.
Now, add the tinned beans and the toasted fregola sarda, together with the grape or cherry tomatoes. Simmer gently for around 30-40 minutes longer, until the fregola is tender. Sprinkle over the fresh parsley, season to taste with sea salt and cracked pepper, and serve immediately, with chunks of meat cut from the bone. Serves 4 (or two hungry little piggies).
* Note: Save the liquid drained from the canned beans and make Aquafaba Meringues. Incidentally, I've been using the canned bean products from Aldi and find them particularly good.
The Maugers brand is synonymous with the finest quality meat from the Southern Highlands, sold direct through two butcher shops, Moss Vale and Burrawang. The smokehouse is at the store in Hoddle Street, Burrawang. Please stay tuned for my interview with traditional butchers and farmers, John Mauger and his son, Mathew, from Maugers Meats. Coming soon to Good Things.
NB: I bought a selection of beef and pork from Maugers. This is not a sponsored post.
Your turn dear fellow cooks. Do you enjoy rib-sticking soups, like this one? And for non-vegetarians, is smoked pork ever on the menu at your place? Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment. I do love hearing from you.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.