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
Squash & Kale Soup with Smoked Ham Hock
- 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
- De-seed, peel and chop the squash into approximately 1-2 inch cubes.
- Add the chopped onion, smashed garlic, and squash to the crock pot. Add the whole smoked ham hock, burying it into the vegetables.
- Pour the vegetable stock into the crock pot, along with the vinegar. Stir in the salt and pepper.
- Set the timer for 4-5 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
- 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.
- Add the kale to the crock pot, and let steam for 10 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Combine the pureed soup with the diced ham hock meat and taste. Add more salt or pepper, and another tablespoon or two of vinegar.
- Serve with some fresh parsley and a dollop of sour cream.