Green peas or white peas: take your pick!

Two contrasting recipes for pea soups. The first, for a “green pease soope” is bursting with spring flavours: cucumber, spearmint, as well as freshly-picked peas…

Recipe for "green pease soope" from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

Recipe for “green pease soope” from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

Green Pease Soope

Take 3 quarts of peas & 5 quarts of water. Boyle yr pease, bruse them & strain them through a hair sive. Take a pottle of raw peas, pound them fine and put them your peas liquor and give them one boyl. Then strain it through a hair seive into a tossing pan & put som pounded peper, mace, some parsly & a good deal of speremint shred small & 2 skallians, one handfull of whole peas, two large cucumbers slict. Let all boyle slow for an hour, then stir in a qr of a pound of butter, a qr of a pint of sweet cream first boyl’d. Stir all well together & put in the bottoms of three harty Choaks boyl’d & cut in square peices. Stir it all one way. If yr soop be nt thick enough, put in a lump of butter rouled in flower.

The term scallion is still used in North America for what we in Britain call spring onions. The ‘pottle’ refers to the container in which the peas were bought from a market or street vendor. And for three harty Choaks read “three artichokes”!

Our second recipe is for a white pea soup. Dried split peas would be a good substitute for the white peas. This is a much heartier soup, with warmth from the bacon, fried bread and beetroot. There’s no need to thicken this one with butter and flour. If anything it is “apt to grow too thick”, so if you do give it a go, take care not to leave it on the stove too long:

"White Pease Soope": a recipe from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies.

“White Pease Soope”: a recipe from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies.

White Pease Soope

Take a pottle of good white pease & 5 qrts of water. Let yr pease be put in the water, cold, & let them boil till the are soft but dont break them at all. Then pour the broth from them very cleer & cut some salery small & som lettice & some spearmint & the ends of 2 o 3 leeks & some spinage & beets & some parsley. Cut all these very small & stew them in half a pnd of butter in a sauce pan, very soft. Then put them in yr pease broth & a qrt of strong gravy & a good deal of pounded mace & a little pepper. Give these a boil or 2 together, stirring them well & have some small rashers of bacon & bread fryed & laid in the bottom of your dish. Pour yr soope over them. You must take care yr pease be very clear. You must let it stew a very little while for it will be apt to grow too thick.