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Squash, Parma Ham Hock, Sage, Onion and Barley Broth

British chef and food personality Jamie Oliver offers this recipe in The Naked Chef Takes Off (Hyperion, 2001). An Italian Parma ham, unlike a traditional smoked ham, is seasoned, salt-cured and air-dried. If a Parma ham hock cannot be found, a smoked ham hock will work here as well.

Makes 4-6 servings.

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Olive oil

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

2 handfuls of fresh sage

1 handful of barley

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 1/2 pound Parma ham hock, skin removed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil


1 handful of chestnuts, shelled

A pinch of dried chili and a pinch of nutmeg

In a large pot, slowly fry the onion, coriander seeds and garlic in a little olive oil until softened. Add the squash, sage, chestnuts (if you’re using them) and barley. Stir in the stock and add the Parma ham hock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the hock, discard the bone if there is one, and break up the meat into small pieces with two forks and leave to one side.

Take half the soup and puree it in a food processor until smooth. Add the liquid and broken-up ham back to the pan. Season carefully with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a bit of chili and ground nutmeg if you like, to taste. Feel free to loosen with a little extra stock if need be.

Serve with a little peppery extra-virgin olive oil and some hot crusty bread.

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