Squash & Kale Soup with Smoked Ham Hock

I never saw, or heard much about smoked ham hacks until I moved to Canada. It’s a common ingredient, especially in French Quebec cooking. Traditionally, it’s most famous and popular dish is split pea soup with ham hocks. But using split peas can be a tad heavy. This recipe is a nice balance between comforting and healthy, with squash adding some sweetness and kale giving a nutritious boost. 

You can find smoked ham hocks at most butcher shops, and many small farmers smoke their own and sell them at markets. The hocks have a delicious smokey ham flavor that is rich with meatiness.

I like to cook the smoked ham hocks slowly for a long time to extract some of the collagen from the bones and skin. The ham hock can be intimating, but I just toss the entire hock into the crockpot, letting it sit for the better part of a day in my soup base.  Then pull it out when the meat is starting to fall away from the bone. After letting it cool down a bit, I clean up the ham hock, cutting away any skin, or sinew, and tossing the tender little meaty bits in to my soup. 

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Squash & Kale Soup with Smoked Ham Hock

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Nutrition per portion

Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash (approximately 2 lbs)
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 naturally smoked ham hock (approximately 2 lbs)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley for serving
  • Sour cream for serving
Method
  1. De-seed, peel and chop the squash into approximately 1-2 inch cubes.
  2. Add the chopped onion, smashed garlic, and squash to the crock pot. Add the whole smoked ham hock, burying it into the vegetables.
  3. Pour the vegetable stock into the crock pot, along with the vinegar. Stir in the salt and pepper.
  4. Set the timer for 4-5 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
  5. Once it's done cooking, the squash should be soft and the ham hock might be falling apart a little. Remove the ham hock from the crock pot, and place a cutting board to cool down a little.
  6. Add the kale to the crock pot, and let steam for 10 minutes.
  7. Blend the squash, onion, kale, and stock in batches in a blender, being careful never to fill the blender more than halfway. Blend until all the large chunks are gone, but the kale is still speckled in the mix.
  8. Once the ham hock is cool enough to handle, carve the ham hock. Cut the meat into 1/2 inch sized bits, making sure to remove any gristle or excess fat.
  9. Combine the pureed soup with the diced ham hock meat and taste. Add more salt or pepper, and another tablespoon or two of vinegar.
  10. Serve with some fresh parsley and a dollop of sour cream.

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