The 5-2 Challenge. A Fast Day Calorie Counting Conundrum. Pea and Ham Soup.

Pea and Ham Soup

One of my favourite meals when the weather turns cold is soup. Warm, nourishing, stick to your ribs comfort food. Top of the list? Pea and ham soup. Everyone else must have had the same idea today. I ventured out to the butcher to purchase a ham hock but every single last one was sold. All that remained were smoked bacon bones. A word of advice from my friendly butcher? It all boils down to a  choice between using ham hocks for the meat or  smoked bacon bones for the flavour. Excuse the pun. So I duly purchased a kilo of bacon bones and some finely sliced prosciutto to use as a garnish for my soup as a substitute for the shredded meat from the unavailable ham hock.

The flavour imparted from those bacon bones was incredible. The result was a delicious and very tasty pea and ham soup. The real fun began when I tried to calculate the calorie count of those bacon bones. Such a fast day calorie counting conundrum that I almost gave up in pure frustration.

I think I spent more time figuring this out than preparing the soup. One site would have me believe that a kilo of lean bacon bones without any meat attached would yield almost 2000 calories. A nonsense when you consider the calorie count of one shredded ham hock is 167 calories. In the end I googled the calorie value of bacon bone stock. Each cup of stock yields 20 calories. Rather than cook the stock separately I incorporated the calorie value of ten cups of bacon bone stock into the recipe. Sometimes common sense needs to prevail.

This recipe for Pea and Ham Soup is well worth trying using either version.  I like to freshen up the texture of my soup by blitzing frozen peas through at the end. It really does add an interesting vibrancy in flavour and appearance to this much loved soup.  The calorie count will be slightly higher, by about 10 calories per cup. if using the more traditional ham hocks.  When all is said and done here is my day on a plate. One thing is apparent, the cooler weather is certainly fueling my cappuccino cravings and playing havoc with my resolve.

1 Skim Milk Cappuccino
1 Cup Pea and Ham Soup with Prosciutto
Mid Afternoon
1 Cup Tea
2 Cups  Pea and Ham Soup
1 Cup tea
Total Calories

Pea and Ham Soup
Makes 15 cups (140 calories a cup plus 20 calories per each thin slice prosciutto )

1 tablespoon olive oil (120 calories)
1 kg smoked bacon bones ( 200 calories)*
1 large onion, finely sliced (30 calories)
1 leek, finely sliced (27 calories)
2 large carrots, diced (50 calories)
4 celery sticks, diced (34 calories)
2 parsnips, diced (150 calories)
4 cloves garlic, crushed (16 calories)
bouquet garni of 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs thyme and 2 sprigs rosemary (6 calories)
300g (1 1/2 cups) dried green or yellow split peas (1008 calories)
450g  (4 cups) frozen green peas (440 calories)
2.5 litres (10 cups) water plus 500 ml (2 cups)

100 g (about 10 very thin slices) prosciutto, to garnish (200 calories)

SOAK  the bacon bones in a pot of warm water for half an hour to remove a little of their saltiness. At the same time also soak the dried split peas in a separate bowl of warm water and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to soften. After half an hour separately strain both the bacon bones and dried split peas, discarding the soaking water. Set aside.
FINELY  slice leek and celery. Fry in the base of a large stock pot with olive oil until soft and translucent.
ADD carrots, celery, parsnips and garlic  to the pot. Sauté lightly until vegetables just begin to soften.
ADD bacon bones, split peas and bouquet garni with 10 cups of water.
BRING to the boil, and skim any impurities off the top of the soup.  Turn heat to lowest setting, cover and allow to simmer very gently for 2 to 3 hours.
TURN off the heat. Remove  the bouquet garni and bacon bones. Purée the soup in the stockpot with a stick blender to the desired consistency.
DEFROST  frozen peas in 2 cups of hot water. Add to the stock pot and blend until soup is a vivid green in colour.
RETURN stockpot to the stove and reheat gently over medium heat.
TO SERVE ladle soup into preheated bowls or mugs. Garnish with crispy prosciutto if desired.

* One kilo of bacon bones can be replaced with two ham hocks. According to the Fatsecret website one ham hock yields 167 calories after cooking with the bone removed. Calorie count of two ham hocks is 334 calories compared to 200 for the bacon bones. This would add about 10 calories to each cup of soup.

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