The combination of dried peas and salted cured ham dates back to the Middle Ages when these ingredients were part of the staple winter diet. This soup was also known as ‘The London Particular’, being as thick as the dense fogs that once enveloped London and were colloquially termed ‘pea soupers’. Thick pea soup was one of the most popular hot meals sold from streetbarrows.
Cook the bacon, carrots, celery and onions in the butter, under cover, for 5 to 10 minutes, Add the peas and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Pour over the stock, add salt and pepper and bring to the boil; skim and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, skimming again whenever necessary.
Rub the soup through a coarse sieve or blend in a liquidiser. Return the soup to the pan and heat through; correct the seasoning. Serve with sippets or small pieces of bread to dip in; diced meat may be added to the soup, but this is not traditional.
© 1988 Keith Floyd estate. All rights reserved.