Ten top cooks share the favourite dishes they return to time and again, including Diana Henry on Marcella Hazan’s chicken fricassée, and Clare Smyth on the simple soup she’s known since childhood
by Clare Smyth, Nigel Slater, Diana Henry, Asma Khan, Fuchsia Dunlop, Gary Usher, Anissa Helou, Olia Hercules, Stanley Tucci, Alice Waters
Winter vegetable and ham soup
Chosen by Clare Smyth
I’ve been making a soup like this pretty much all my life. I grew up on a farm and a lot of meals were prepared like this, plentiful and in advance. My mum sometimes put dishes on overnight, they’d cook very slowly all night and you’d wake up to the smell of it through the house. Obviously, I’m at work until late, but it fills up my husband during the week. He loves it, and in the winter on my days off I just love to eat it. It’s incredibly healthy, comforting and delicious. Whether or not you cook the ham hock, even a simple vegetable soup is delicious with pearl barley and potatoes.
ham hock 1 small (about 300g)
celery 3 sticks
thyme 4 sprigs
bay leaf 1
potato 1 large
pearl barley 200g
curly parsley 1 bunch, chopped
Soak the ham hock for 24 hours in water in the fridge before cooking.
Place the ham hock in a large saucepan with 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stick of celery, 1 leek, 10 peppercorns, the thyme and the bay leaf. Cover with cold water and slowly bring up to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3 to 4 hours until tender – the small bone at the top should easily be pulled out. Leave to cool in the stock. When cold, drain, reserving the liquid for the soup stock, and flake the ham into small pieces.
Dice the rest of the vegetables into 2cm-sized cubes. In a large pot, add a little vegetable oil and sweat off the onion, carrot, celery and leek. Then add the rest of the vegetables and sweat further, adding a pinch of salt.
When the vegetables are nicely sweated off, add the pearl barley and reserved ham stock. Add a little more water if required, bring to the boil and check the seasoning. Leave to simmer until the vegetables and pearl barley is cooked.
Just before serving, add the flaked ham hock, the chopped parsley and some black pepper.
Clare Smyth is chef-owner of Core, London
Diana Henry’s griddled chicken with thyme and sea salt
Chosen by Nigel Slater