John Larrysson's Kitchen: Pea Soup

In history, most people could not afford enough meat, milk and eggs to get their protein. They had to depend on plants. The best plant source of protein has been from the legumes. These plants include beans and peas.

An old traditional dish is pea soup. The common people in many Western countries depended on pea soup. The peas are slowly cooked in water for hours with a little salt, celery, onion, carrot and herbs for flavouring. Sometimes it is flavoured with a little meat, if one had any. Thicker versions might be called pottage or porridge.

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There is a popular British nursery rhyme about pea soup. “Pease” is the older spelling of the word 'pea' and a mass (uncountable) noun.

Pease porridge hot,

Pease porridge cold,

Pease porridge in the pot,

Nine days old.

Some like it hot,

Some like it cold,

Some like it in the pot,

Nine days old.

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This rhyme is about 250 years old and so it is older than refrigeration. However it is possible to keep a large pot of pea soup safe to eat for nine days. One simply reheats it each day, bringing it to a boil and killing the bacteria. The real scandal was that the person was eating pea soup every day. Eating pea soup was a sign of poverty; rich people could afford to eat meat instead.

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by John Larrysson

[email protected]

A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for over two decades.


NOTE:Starting in 2016, this column has been published once every two weeks, on every other Tuesday.

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