During the 19th century London was often covered in fog, called a pea-soup fog because it was as thick as yellow pea soup. Pea-soupers were the result of soft-coal burning before the clean air act. Pea soup is a classic- it is immortalized in the 16th century nursery rhyme, where pease was the word meaning peas:
Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.
In fact pea soup is one of the most ancient dishes around. Pea soup is talked about in Aristophanes' The Birds, and according to one source "the Greeks and Romans were cultivating this legume about 500 to 400 BC. During that era, vendors in the streets of Athens were selling hot pea soup." For a fantastic history on peas and pea soup click here.
- 6 Slices of thick bacon (I like Fletchers, you can get it at Costco)
- 2 onions
- 2 cups of peas
- 8 cups of water (or follow the directions on the bag of peas for how much to add-you can always add more water if it is too thick later as well)
- 2 chicken stock cubes or (2 tablespoons stock paste)
- 1 tablespoon Basil
- Black pepper to taste
- Bay leaf or two
Cut the bacon into small strips and fry in the bottom of a large saucepan until cooked, about 7 minutes on medium high heat. Removed bacon from the fat with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Add in the chopped onion stirring until translucent-then the remaining ingredients. Cooking 30-40 minutes (with the lid on) until the peas start to fall apart and thicken the soup. You can puree part or all of the soup in the blender if you prefer, but I like it as is. Top with some bacon bits and serve hot with crusty french bread.