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I love this soup, which Joanna has been making for years. It's so hearty it's virtually a meal in itself. It's great to come home to on a winter's day. Sometimes I take some to work and heat it in a microwave, with a couple of crumbled rice cakes used as 'croutons'.


1 ham hock
1 packet of split peas, green or yellow
1 onion, chopped
1 onion whole
12 whole cloves
2 teaspoons pickling spice
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped (optional)


Place hock in crockpot, add split peas, cover with water, add chopped onion. Stud a whole onion with cloves -- that makes it easy to remove cloves after cooking. Add spice and herbs.

Cook until the meat falls off the bone. Joanna lets it cook gently all day. Discard bone, fat and onion with cloves. Chop meat and return it to the soup.

Serve with hot buttered toast (made with gluten-free bread from a health food shop if you don't have your own).

Note: You'll get different results with different brands of split peas. The best soup is made when the split peas turn to mush and meld with all the other flavours. Old dried legumes go hard and take much longer to cook.

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Allan Gardyne, Golden Beach, Queensland, Australia.
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