Unlike many 18th-century soups, this soup is (mostly) vegetarian so that it can be eaten during the fasting period of Lent. Instead of using meat, the soup is flavored with anchovies, since fish was often considered acceptable to eat during Lent.
- 2 cups dried peas
- 2 quarts water
- 1 large onion, cut in small pieces
- 3 anchovies
- 3 oz butter, softened
- 6 tbsp flour
- about 4 stalks celery, chopped into small pieces
- a few handfuls spinach, roughly chopped
- about 1 tbsp dried mint, or to taste
- Put the water, dried peas, onion, and anchovies in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the peas are soft and starting to fall apart, about 1 hour.
- Puree the soup using an immersion blender or a blender (or, if you feel like being really historically accurate, push it through a strainer by hand). Return to medium-low heat.
- Knead the softened butter and flour together until smooth, then stir into the soup. Keep stirring until the flour and butter are completely mixed in, then simmer for a few minutes until the soup is thickened.
- Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to boil. Boil the chopped celery for a few minutes until it is starting to get tender, then add the spinach and boil for just about another minute. Drain the celery and spinach, then add to the soup pot and stir in.
- Season the soup to taste with the mint, salt, and pepper.
- Serve with small pieces of stale bread. If your bread is soft, put it in the oven at low heat for a few minutes first to dry it out.
For a soup meant to be eaten while fasting, this was surprisingly tasty. Although I didn’t really notice the anchovies, I think they did subtly contribute to the flavor of the soup. I liked the spinach and celery as well, although if I were making this again I would probably just add them to the soup pot rather than cooking them separately. This seems like it would have been an excellent cold-weather dish for any 18th-century household, whether they were observing Lent or not.
Moxon, E. (1785). English housewifery. Leeds: Thomas Wright. https://www.google.com/books/edition/English_Housewifery/OgtTlaAJKVMC?hl=en&gbpv=0