Souper Sunday - Bacon Hock and Vegetable Soup
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
So here comes sunday and its time for soup. Taking the bacon hock that my mum has gifted to me, I will make a mighty soup for the flat. I'm thinking about a cheesy garlic situation baked onto toast, maybe some hot sauce on the side. Let's see how this goes...
1x 6 litre slow cooker (or a big old pot. I am leaning into the slow cooker more and more because you can just put it all in, turn it on and get on with your business. I always fry/brown whatever is going into it because, you know, flavour)
1 bacon hock
3 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium potatoes
1 can tomatoes
2 litres chicken stock
1/2 bunch thyme
salt and pepper
2 loaves bread (I baked mine, see post 'Fresh Bread Is My Jam' for the recipe. If you aren't feeling as adventurous, no big deal, no judgment here. It is sunday to be fair. Just pick up a couple of loaves of your choice from wherever you like)
5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup hot sauce
2 cups grated cheese
First up, we need to deal with this bacon hock. Place it in a pot that is big enough to house it, cover with cold water and place it on the stove. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil for a couple of hours. After this time, it should feel like its threatening to come away from the bone. I'm tempted to keep the water that the hock was boiled in but I tasted it and it didn't fill me with joy. Down the sink for the cooking liquor.
While the hock is cooking away, let's get that soup working. Start by peeling the onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips and potatoes. As this soup will be simmering away at its own leisurely pace, a rough, medium chop for the vegetables will be fine. Heat a pan with a couple of tablespoons of oil and start frying the onions, garlic and leek. To get a full flavoured soup, I recommend seasoning every step of the way. Lightly seasoning the onions and garlic while they are gently frying will help draw the moisture to the surface and they will soften perfectly. It may be just a vegetable soup but we are building flavour every time we put something into that pan. And its always good to make it as tasty as it could be. Why on earth would you want to spend your time doing something mediocre?! Madness!
So we have arrived at prepping pumpkin. Pumpkin is a pain to prep. Its large, unsteady and the skin can be a challenge to get through. Using a strong and slightly weightier knife helps with prepping. I find the best way to manage pumpkin is to cut it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. It will take a bit longer but it is a lot easier and safer to do it this way. Once you have skinned the pumpkin with ease and grace, chop it up into 2cm chunks and add it into the slow cooker along with the chopped carrots, potatoes and parsnips.
Once the onions, garlic and leek has sufficiently sweated, add in the can of tomatoes, the stock and the thyme. Bring this up to a simmer and then carefully pour into the slow cooker. Set the slow cooker to high and cook for 3 hours while you go and chill out / have a nap / watch some hot trash tv.
But dont forget about the bacon hock! Once it is threatening to fall off the bone, remove it from the cooking liquor and place on a plate. You will be able to gently tear the meat off using tongs. Once the bone has been stripped bare, place it into the simmering soup so it can enhance the flavour. Cover the bacon meat and set aside for later on.
In the last hour of the soup simmering, discard the bone then, when the vegetables are softening, grab a masher and just press it into the soup a few times. I personally detest pureed soups, I get so bored eating them. I need texture with an element of surprise. By 'mashing' the soup, you will create all kinds of texture. Its here where you can add the bacon hock meat too. Turn off the slow cooker and just let it sit for a bit. It will be raging hot and the accompaniments need to be attended to.
Preheat the oven to 180.C, slice the bread into decent slices and lay them on a baking tray. Lightly toast one side and then flip the slices over. In a small pot, melt the butter gently. Crush the garlic and add to the butter along with the hot sauce. Once the butter has completely melted and the garlic is starting to sizzle, remove from the heat and brush onto the untoasted side of the bread. Cover with cheese and season well. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden and delicious looking.
serve the hot sauce cheese toasts all piled up with the pot of hot soup. Its important to have loads as its so moreish. Enjoy!