London Particular is a delicious Pea Soup, with a name derived from something which was not quite so appealing. The air in Victorian London was often polluted with a green-brown fog, known in London as a ‘pea soup’ – which was evident in the the winter, even up to the 1960s – amongst other things it came from industrial factory pollution and millions of homes burning poor quality coal and timber to keep warm. In Bleak House Charles Dickens described it as a ‘London Particular’ and the name became interchangeable for both the polluting fog and a traditional London pea soup recipe.
London Particular (Pea Soup) Recipe
Enough for six people. Soak the dried peas in water that just covers them the night before.
- 12 rashers streaky bacon (rinds removed and diced)
- 1 large onion (peeled and chopped)
- 2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
- 500g dried green peas, (soaked overnight in cold water to cover)
- 2.5 litres chicken stock
- pinch of sea-salt (to taste)
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 2 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Croûtons – 6 tablespoons croutons
- 3 crustless slices of day old bread
- knob of butter to fry & 2 tbsp olive oil
- 200ml single cream (gently warmed)
In a large, heavy-based saucepan, add half the diced bacon and cook over a gentle heat until the fat runs out of the bacon (7 minutes). Add the chopped onion and carrot and cook gently until the fat has been absorbed (7 minutes). Stir frequently.
Drain the soaked peas and add to the saucepan with the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, season lightly with ground sea-salt and black pepper, cover and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the peas are beginning to become mushy.
For the croûtons: Cut the crustless day old bread slices into small cubes and fry in a large knob of butter with two tablespoons of olive oil, in a hot frying pan until very crisp. Remove the croutons, and reserve.
Use the frying pan to fry off the remaining half of the diced streaky bacon until crispy. Once crispy turn the heat off and reserve.
Use a blender (hand or a regular blender) and blend the Pea Soup into a smooth liquid. Taste and adjust the seasoning – add the Worcestershire sauce and the remaining diced crispy bacon and re-heat. Once heated through transfer to a serving bowl, swirl in the single cream, and top off with the croûtons.