Pea and ham soup

Great Ocean Food: Hock to it and make a soup as winter is on its way

May 16, 2019 BY

I don’t want to jump the gun, but winter is fast approaching.

My wife likes the coming season for crackling open fires, woollen jumpers and warm coats.

I tend to like winter for some well overdue rain and winter meals. Hearty casseroles I cook year-round, but soups tend to be the domain of June through to August.

I have written before about soup being such a wonderful dish to use all your leftovers. But one soup is so simple and delicious, it only needs five ingredients. I speak of the delightful pea and ham soup.

People have been cooking this dish for centuries. When I “Googled” pea and ham soup history, there were a multitude of entries. One which amused me was the nursery rhyme we learnt at school:
Pease porridge hot
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot,
Nine days old.

The explanation of the Pease (peas) porridge (soup) is simple. Hanging over the fire in most peasant homes in 15th century England was a kettle containing a thick porridge made of peas.

Because few peasants could afford meat, they based their meals on pea porridge with an abundance of whatever vegetables were on hand. When the fire died down at night, the morning porridge was quite cold. Each day the fire was relit, and more peas and vegetables were added to the kettle.

Indeed, the original ingredients in the kettle could have been nine days old.

Now this may be an easy explanation, but I am simply stunned that such a rhyme, with its origins in 15th century England, was still being sung by me and my classmates in Geelong during 1968! It may even be recited by today’s children for all I know. The passing of information over generations is fascinating indeed.

I wonder if pea and ham soup will be served in hundreds of years’ time. If so, not much will really change in the preparation.

My favourite way to eat this soup is with a toasted cheese sandwich and a glass of full-bodied white wine.

Following is the recipe I have used for years. Some like to substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the water, but I find as long as you season correctly at the end of cooking, there is plenty of flavour.