Pea soup is a soup that is made from dried or fresh peas. Depending in the culture and peas that are used, the soup may vary from grayish-green to dark green to yellow in color.
Pea soup has been mentioned in Aristophanes THE BIRDS. This was a play written by a Greek playwright in the year 313 BC. According to gourmands, peas were cultivated by the Greeks and the Romans in 500-400 BC and the legumes were regularly used in their cuisine. During that era, street vendors used to sell cheap roadside versions of the soup. Over the years, the actual ingredients and cooking methods have changed considerably as cultures over the world adapted the dish to their tastes. In England, a very popular local nursery rhyme ‘Pease porridge hot’ shows just how old the recipe actually is
Split pea soup: Ingredients and Preparation Overview
Peas are the essential ingredient for the soup. Dried peas have to be soaked overnight but fresh peas are cooked as is. Other ingredients like meat, chicken, ham hocks, bacon etc are added to increase flavor. The dish is usually prepared by stewing the meat and peas together with flavorings. Once the peas are cooked, the meat is removed and the peas are partially pureed or completely pureed according to individual tastes. Thickeners in the form of cream, cheese etc are added along with the cooked meat. The meat is can served inside the soup or on the side. Generally, dried peas require a large amount of water to cook.
Popular Variations of the Split Pea Soup Recipe
· In Quebec, the dish is called as the Soupe aux pois or yellow pease soup. The peas are cooked with salt pork and herbs. The pork may be served with the soup or removed and served on the side.
· In Newfoundland, pease soup has more vegetables and less meat. Dough dumplings called dough boys are added to the soup.
· In Germany, meat is added to the pease soup and cooked together. Bacon, sausages, cured pork and even cured sausages are commonly added to the dish. Special ready made versions of the soup are also found. For example, pea meal and beef fat are combined together to create a solid cake that was sold readymade to make pease soup. Knorr still produces Erbswurst or the solid version of the pea soup that is sold in the form of a roll.
· In the Netherlands, pork is cooked with celeriac, celery, onions, leeks, potatoes and peas to make the pease soup. Rookworst sausage is added to the dish just before serving. There are special Koek En Zopie outlets where pease soup is sold as a roadside snack during winter months.
· In Finland, pease soup is traditionally eaten on Thursdays with pork and mustard.
· In Sweden, pease soup is cooked with yellow peas resulting in yellow colored gravy that is cooked with meat. A commercially packaged version where the soup is compressed into a casing is also sold in Sweden to protect the environment.
· In the UK, the dish has been mentioned in literature as long back as the 19th century. The soup is cooked with meat, vegetables and broth. Different local versions are made but it is considered to be a poor mans meal.
· In New England, US, the soup is very popular in thick and thin versions with or without meat. Carrots are commonly added with split peas. The soup is also very popular during the festival of St Patrick’s Day when green colored foods are eaten.
Split Pea Soup: Serving Suggestions
The soup is usually served with rye bread in Europe. Other accompaniments in the form of bacon, stewed vegetables, pancakes, and toasted crisp bread are also served according to personal preferneces. Accompaniments like mustard, pickles, white pepper, sour cream, cheese and butter are common in the UK and US
Health and Nutrition Facts
Commercial varieties of split pea soup will have higher amounts of sodium. Home made pea soup contains 180 calories. The total fat content is 2g, the cholesterol is 5mg, the sodium is 420 mg, the carbohydrate content is 30g, and protein content is 10g.
Miscellaneous Facts About Pea Soup
Popular chef, Nigella Lawson, cooks several simple, easy to prepare pea soup recipes. Her Peas and Pesto Soup recipe and the Easy Peasy Pea soup recipes are world famous and can be cooked in fifteen minutes for a quick supper.
A pea soup fog is commonly used to refer to the thick fog that surrounds London city during the winter and monsoons.