This is a soup I grew up with and have always enjoyed. The fabulous aromas of the smoked hocks simmering away are still just as enticing and result in a light but full flavoured stock.
2 smoked ham hocks
1 onion, halved
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 carrot, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
8 small pickling onions or shallots
½ cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups roughly chopped Savoy cabbage
1 cup frozen peas
small handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Slash the skin of the hocks in 3 places with a sharp knife. Put the hocks, onion, garlic, peppercorns, carrot and salt in a large saucepan and add 12 cups of cold water or more if needed to cover by 3 cm. Bring to the boil then simmer gently, half covered with the lid for 2½ - 3 hours until the meat is very tender.
Remove the hocks and strain the stock into a clean saucepan, discarding the vegetables. Taste and season with salt and pepper until well flavoured.
Pull the meat off the bone and remove all the fat and skin. Shred into bite-sized pieces.
To finish: Peel the onions, leaving the root end intact. Halve through the root if large. Return the meat to the soup with the onions, pearl barley and carrots and simmer for 30 minutes until tender. Add the cabbage and peas and cook for a few minutes until the cabbage is just tender. Stir in the parsley.
To serve: Divide the meat and vegetables between shallow soup bowls and ladle over the hot soup.