Smoked ham hock minestrone

“A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting” – Abraham Maslow

When I was growing up in Malaysia, I remember western restaurants in Kuala Lumpur would invariably have minestrone and oxtail soup on their menus. I have never been fond of minestrone as I perceived it a little boring with just vegetables and would always opt for the oxtail soup.

Perhaps what was intriguing were people tucking into these soups which are more appropriate for winter in temperate countries rather than in a hot and humid tropical place like Malaysia.

Winter is descending upon us Down-Under and when the weather turns cooler each season, I look forward to trying some new winter-warmers. During our recent trip to the Southern Highlands, the log fire in our cabin inspired me to seek out some heart-warming soup made with some roasted vegetables like pumpkin, potatoes and some smoked bones. The result was a delicious soup with smoky aromas from the bones and roasted vegetables.

Meaty smoked pork hock

Meaty smoked pork hock

Minestrone is an Italian style soup that literally means ‘big soup’ and is usually made with carrots, celery, onions, beans and tomato.

I don’t believe there is a precise recipe for minestrone. One thing I have found that adds tremendous flavour to this soup is to start with a meaty piece of smoked pork hock. Prior to my new-found love with a meaty minestrone, I have never given much thought to cooking with these smoked cuts as I haven’t come across a recipe that seemed delicious enough for me to try.

The smoked pork hock is vacuum packed and usually comes with the rind around the meat. Firstly, remove the rind, excess fat by dicing it into small pieces.

Sautee these small bits of rind and fat with just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil adds beautiful smoky flavours to a hearty winter soup.

Smoked pork hock minestrone 

Sautee fat and rind until fragrant and crispy

Sautee fat and rind until fragrant and crispy

This is a hearty winter warmer that is a meal in itself if you add some soup pasta to it and have it with some fresh bread or sourdough.

Add diced onions, carrots, celery and sautee until fragrant

Add diced onions, carrots, celery and sautee until fragrant

Return pork hock into the stock pot

Return pork hock into the stock pot

Add chicken stock and simmer on low heat for about two hours

Add chicken stock and simmer on low heat for about two hours

Smoked pork hock minestrone

Smoked pork hock minestrone

So dear readers, what is your favourite winter soup?

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23 Responses to Smoked ham hock minestrone

  1. Raymund says:

    Wow this would definitely pack some great flavours, specially after simmering it for two hours. Mmmmmm

  2. Great idea to put smoked ham hock in this soup. I love minestrone, but you’re right it can be boring sometimes. This looks really tasty and well,worth trying out. GG

  3. OohLookBel says:

    Nothing like a hot bowl of soup in winter. Your soup looks divine with all the veg and that lovely hock. My fave is chicken noodle.

  4. My current favourite is French Onion. It is horrible slicing all those onions but the rewards are truly great!
    Smoked ham hocks are so full of flavour, this would be an exeptional soup.

  5. Wonderful, wonderful stuff dear Chopinand! I am soon to post a similar recipe for lentil soup…. nom noms!

  6. And her I was today just thinking of minestrone! It looks so delicious with the smoked pork hock :D

  7. You sure love your pork lol Didn’t even think of getting a smoked type of flavour in a minestrone!

  8. Ann says:

    This is lovely! While it’s summer here in the US, I have a pot of chicken stock going….it’s raining like mad and it always makes it seem colder than it is! Chicken Soup is my favorite!

  9. celia says:

    Our local deli keeps us well supplied in free ham bones, so we’re making a similar soup to this every couple of weeks. We call it “survival soup” and it usually has lentils rather than beans as the base, as well as any other veg we can find in the fridge! The diced rind and fat is a lovely addition!

  10. Oh wow. I’ve never eaten minestrone or oxtail soup … Probably you have to go further away to taste those dishes that come from not too far away of where you live … (??) Your minestrone looks wonderful, I guess it’s the perfect one to start with minestrone! :D

  11. so convenient to make it all in one pot! love that there’s so much veg in there :)

  12. What a flavour full minestrone soup this looks….big soup indeed! Looks simply delicious!

  13. Charles says:

    Ah, I love soups – favourite one ever… gotta be leek and potato, topped with crispy bacon and feta cheese…. omg!

    Love minestrone actually though, even the basic version. My wife makes a super fast version which is incredibly good, and incredibly healthy!

  14. Sissi says:

    It’s been so hot here for the last week and I keep forgetting that it’s almost winter in Australia… (Not that you would have scary cold temperatures I imagine). Your minestrone looks fabulous and I totally agree about smoked meat and soups improvement. My mum used to cook some soups on smoked pork and both the soup and the pork pieces were excellent.

  15. tigerfish says:

    Smoked Pork Hock minestrone! Oh wow! I am already a fan of minestrone without the pork hock, so now I am a even bigger fan of minestrone!

  16. JasmyneTea says:

    You know, I never like minestrone, but adding that ham hock really makes it look attractive – I’ll have to try your version!

  17. What a great addition indeed! Love it and the depth of flavour it would bring along too :)

  18. Your minestrone soup sounds delicious. Great tutorial. It’s actually chilly here today more fall like weather, so I just had a bowl of soup. Perfect timing. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Although I look forward to warmer weather and finally it’s here, your comforting soup make me wish it’s fall and winter… okay.. only a little bit! Mainly food that makes me want to go back, but my aging body desparately needs warm weather… gosh feels so good to be in summer (and this is me talking who LOVED fall and winter the best throughout my life….until these years). Sorry distracted a bit. =P Love your minestrone with delicious pork!!!

  20. There is something so very comforting about nourishing, hot soups … I don’t know whether I have a favorite winter soup, but I like all kinds of stews with lots of vegetables, chicken or so, and also legumes are nice … Adzuki beans and pumpkin is a combo I like very much. Some warming spices – perfect! :D

  21. Randi says:

    Thanks for every other magnificent post. Where else may just anyone get that kind of info in such an ideal means
    of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am at the search for such information.

  22. Ania says:

    I have cooked minestrone forever, tried a million different variations, and your recipe and method seriously produced the best minestrone ever! Even my husband, who is not a soup fan, was amazed. Thank you :) saving recipe to pinterest now!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Ania,

      Thanks for your kind comments and I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe. It’s one of our favourites as well, especially with winter approaching.

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