Charles Dickens and London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup Recipe

Charles Dickens and London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup Recipe

Charles Dickens and London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup Recipe

Charles Dickens and London Particular:

Ham and Pea Soup Recipe

Bleak House

Courtesy: Charles Dickens Page

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.

London Fog

London Fog

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!

Charles Dickens and London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup Recipe

Charles Dickens and London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup Recipe

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!

Charles Dickens and London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup Recipe

Charles Dickens and London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup Recipe

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 

Bleak House

Courtesy: Charles Dickens Page

London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup

Serves 4
Prep time 24 hours
Cook time 50 minutes
Total time 24 hours, 50 minutes
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Snack, Soup
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Occasion Casual Party, Christmas, Easter, Formal Party, Halloween, Thanksgiving
Region British
By author Karen S Burns-Booth
This classic British soup takes its name from the dense fogs that used to cover London, known as "pea soupers" due to their yellowy/green colour. In Charles Dickens’ "Bleak House", William Guppy remarks to Esther Summerson that the fog is a "London Particular", giving this soup it's rather delightful alternative name. Traditionally made with split green or yellow peas and ham stock, if you have no ham stock to hand, use chicken or vegetable stock instead with some cooked bacon in place of the ham that is usually added. This hearty soup makes a comforting main meal when served with crusty bread and butter.

Ingredients

  • 250g green split peas, soaked overnight in cold water (I sometimes add some bicarbonate of soda, about 1 tablespoon)
  • 25g butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1.8 litres ham or vegetable stock (you can use the stock that a ham is cooked in)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • some leftover cooked boiled ham (or fried back bacon or lardons)
  • lovage leaves (or celery leaves)

Note

This classic British soup takes its name from the dense fogs that used to cover London, known as "pea soupers" due to their yellowy/green colour. In Charles Dickens’ "Bleak House", William Guppy remarks to Esther Summerson that the fog is a "London Particular", giving this soup it's rather delightful alternative name. Traditionally made with split green or yellow peas and ham stock, if you have no ham stock to hand, use chicken or vegetable stock instead with some cooked bacon in place of the ham that is usually added. This hearty soup makes a comforting main meal when served with crusty bread and butter.

Directions

Step 1 Rinse the soaked peas until the water runs clear, I find it easier to do this in a sieve over the sink. Set the peas to one side.
Step 2 Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the onions until they are soft. Add the soaked and rinsed peas and the stock; bring to the boil before reducing the heat so the soup is just gently simmering. Simmer until the peas are very soft, this will take between 30-45 minutes. (Depending on how old the dried peas are - the older they are, the longer it will take for them to cook)
Step 3 Blend the soup in a blender (or with an immersion blender) until smooth – do this in batches if necessary, and add a little more stock if it's too thick. Season to taste with pepper, be careful of adding extra salt if you have used ham stock which will be salty already.
Step 4 Return the blended soup to the saucepan, add some of the ham or bacon and bring the soup back up to a gentle simmer, do not allow it to boil. Serve in warmed bowls with chopped lovage or celery leaves scattered over the top. (This adds a lovely savoury and “fresh” favour to the soup)
London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup

London Particular: Ham and Pea Soup

What’s your favourite soup recipe?

Comments

  1. says

    I haven’t had a pea and ham soup like this for a very long time but it is a very comforting winter dish and just perfect for a cold, grey day. I try not to think about the London fogs, though. I can remember trudging to school through the thick smog that we used to get in London in the early 1960s. (I think around 1962 was the worst). I’ve seen some very thick fogs since then, but nothing as deeply unpleasant as those bad old days.

    • says

      I also remember visiting my grandparents in Feltham and seeing heavy fogs of a strange colour in the early 60′s too Phil; and that was in the suburbs of London. This soup was planned and on the menu as soon as the ham hock was placed in boiling water! Karen

  2. says

    I saw some pictures of the pea soupers the other day and it was really quite incredible, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live in it. The fog at the start of the year was more than bad enough for me! I love that you took that idea though and made it into a delicious soup – your posts are always so clever!

    • says

      I was just going to say that this soup can be made with lentils too Sarah! Nope, I am not that old Sarah!!! But, I DO remember bad fogs at my grandparent’s in the early 60′s due to coal fires and smoke pollution! :-) Karen

  3. says

    Happy New Year Karen! I agree with Phil! I haven’t had pea soup since childhood and I love your recipe with ham. I’ve bookmarked this to make. I need to make some sort of soup or stew soon as we have the perfect weather for them. I’m not sure if you got my email that I received my book? I received it and I’m quite excited to make everything from it and get some inspiration. I’m sure the family will love it too. Home cooked meal for everyone! Thank you Karen!

  4. Eleanor Wigmore says

    This soup looks good – might try to make it next week. My favourite soup is cream of mushroom. However recently I have made jerusalem artichoke soup and really enjoyed that.

  5. Jane Brown says

    I have never tried pea and ham soup but as one of my new year’s resolutions was to cook more from scratch I may be giving this a go!

  6. Fiona Matters says

    I haven’t had pea and ham soup but I have had pea soup. This looks lovely however and I bet the extra meat really adds to the flavour. Brilliant colour too!

  7. tracy says

    Ham and Pea Soup is one of my all time favourites, usually out of a tin though i’m afraid. But this sounds so easy to make and looks alot more delicious. I am going to have a go at making it, I bet I wont be dissapointed, thanks.

  8. Sheila Reeves says

    This soup looks so comforting! I’ve been meaning to look for a recipe that I could adapt as I have got a huge amount of tinned mushy peas ( they were a bargain, but a limit to how many times you can have them as a side veg IMHO :)) ) This might just work!

  9. Sally Carter says

    This looks like a fantastic winter-warmer. My hubby’s mad for soup at present so I’ll be trying out your recipe.

  10. Judith Allen says

    My very favourite soup is my gran’s broth, she does make a good pot of soup. I also like carrot and lentil soup, either blended or chunky, depending on my mood. This one does look good, especially today, it’s so cold and has been hailing.

  11. Sally Carter says

    This looks so good for a snowy day.
    I like to make chicken soup, first boiling up the carcass from the roast dinner- adding celery, carrot, onion and a bouquet garni., salt and pepper. Then I pull any meat off the bones before straining it. Then add the chicken pieces to the stock, thicken with a little cornflour and water, add cream and serve. It’s really tasty.

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