Charles Dickens and London Particular:
Ham and Pea Soup Recipe
It has been foggy lately, the New Year opened with thick, swirling fog – the sort where drips of moisture are amplified by the close pressing presence of this most depressing of weather phenomena. Rain I can cope with, now and then that is, snow is initially magical before it becomes sludge or ice, wind is fine if you are tucked up inside and as for heat waves, well the sun can shine any time it likes; but, fog is eerily malevolent with its suffocating closeness and reduced visibility and I hate it with a passion; it’s claustrophobic and menacing……..it hides things and then reveals them in distorted snap-shots. So, imagine what it must have been like in late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth century London, when the city was regularly enveloped in “pea soupers”, the name for the dense, acrid, thick and often yellowish, greenish, or blackish smog, caused by air pollution that contained soot particulates and the poisonous gas sulphur dioxide. These fogs were prevalent in many major UK cities, as well as London, where the smoke from millions of chimneys combined with the mists and fogs of the Thames valley. The result was commonly known as a “London particular” or “London fog”, which then, in a reversal of the idiom, became the name for a thick pea and ham soup. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pea_soup_fog) So, what have these dense fogs have in common with Charles Dickens? Well, in Charles Dickens “Bleak House”, Mr Guppy tells Miss Summerson “This, is a London Particular. A fog Miss.” as she enquires whether there has been a house fire, due to the heavy smog that greeted her.
Whereas the fog that met me this New year was depressing, it was nowhere near as bad as a London Pea Souper; however, it did put me in mind of the classic British soup recipe that is named after this London smog, London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup. It also put me in the mood for a BIG bowl of this steaming soup, which, was highly fortuitous as we had some ham (and stock) leftover from our New Year’s buffet table. London Particular, the soup, is traditionally made with split yellow peas or split green peas with ham stock; but, you can make this soup with other stocks and you can add cooked bacon if ham is not available. I always think it is worth cooking a ham not only for the delicious meal it will provide, as well as mountains of ham sandwiches for days afterwards, but also in order to make a BIG pot of this soup, which cuts through any aches and pains of winter and is truly comforting. The recipe I am sharing with you today has been made with split green peas, as I JUST love the colour of this soup when made with green peas!
And then right on cue, as soon as I dished up this unctuous green bowl of goodness, a watery sun came out and brightened up our day! Serve this classic British soup with a yard or two of crusty bread and butter, for dunking and dipping, as well as some home-made croutons to mix in to this thick soup. You can also make this soup for the school dinner or office lunch soup flask, a wonderful lunch to “pack” up for your loved ones on a cold, miserable day. I often make this for an evening meal, and then serve it in large mugs, so we can all sit by the fire and enjoy it…….with toast, pure winter comfort bliss!
That’s all for now, do pop back later when I have a new giveaway, some virtual flower arranging tips, as well as some new recipes for 5:2 dieters as well as come cakes and bakes to share too. The recipe for my London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup is posted below, and all of my recipes are written on a software programme that makes my recipes printable, with or without the images. Bye for now, Karen