The London Particular

Friday 6 September 2019

London Particular is a delicious Split Pea Soup!  The name comes from the famous fogs of London back in Dickensian times, which came to be known as London Particulars or Pea Soup Fogs. 

Fogs so thick that you could scarce see your hand in front of your face. 

From Wikepedia: Pea soup fog (also known as a pea souper, black fog or killer fog) is a very thick and often yellowish, greenish or blackish fog caused by air pollution that contains soot particulates and the poisonous gas sulphur dioxide. 

Not just common in Dickens's day these heavy fogs continued sporadically throughout the ensuing years.  In fact there was a particularly bad incident  in 1952 which was called "The Great Smog of London,"  which came to be known as one of the worst air-pollution events in the history of  the United Kingdom.

I think actually fogs such as this were quite prevalent throughout Europe, especially in the colder months when people were using their coal fires. My mother had a photograph of me standing in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1959.  You can just barely see me and only the feet of the tower as the fog is so dense and so thick.

I dare say those "Pea Souper" fogs were not as near delicious as this fabulous soup, London Particular, which had its beginnings at the Simpson's in the Strand restaurant in London. 

This soup is rib-stickingly thick and very delicious, and really quite simple to make!

My mother always made us lovely pots of pea soup after we had enjoyed a baked ham either for New Years or Easter.  

We always had a ham on those special occasions and the bone was always used to make a delicious soup.

Hers was done in the French Canadian style however, using whole yellow dried peas.  They are not so easy to get these days, and I have never seen them over here.  

We did so love her soup.  She used to make a huge pot of it and we would enjoy it once on the night, with the remainder being frozen for future use. 

Always whenever any of us (after we had grown up and left home) made the trip home, she would be certain to feed us a supper of this soup and another of her home baked beans at least once during our stay. 

I can't speak for anyone else, but for myself  I can say that this was something I always looked forward to and enjoyed very much.

This is not that soup, but it is just as delicious in a different sort of a way.  Its thick and flavourful  . . . and as I said, very simple to make.

You do need to begin by soaking the peas over night, so be prepared, you will need to do this in advance of making the soup, but once you have done that, the soup comes together very quickly. 

If you are lucky enough to have homemade ham stock in the freezer, use that.  I have never seen a ham over here sold on the bone and so I have never had a ham bone over here to make stock. 

Instead I relied on ham stock cubes to make my stock. You can also use chicken stock if you wish. 

Other than the split peas and stock, there is bacon, carrots, celery and onions.  Simple. 

As an homage to my dear sweet mother I chose to add a bay leaf and some Nova Scotia Summer Savory. You can leave those out and the soup will still be delicious, but if you have them to hand, I do recommend.  

You could in also use a bit of dried thyme instead of the savory, if you find that impossible to procure.  I bring mine back with me from Nova Scotia and keep it in my freezer.  It is that precious to me.

It takes about an hour and a bit to cook, so not that long really.  Once the peas are nice and tender, you then puree half of the soup.  

I used my immersion blender to do this. (Don't know what I would do without it!)  You can also use a food processor or a regular blender.

You then stir the pureed portion of soup back into the pot and reheat the soup gently, seasoning it to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper . . .  ready to be serve ladled into heated bowls . . .

Garnished with clippings of crispy bacon and chopped fresh parsley  . . .

As always Todd enjoys his soups with a piece or two of buttered bread or a crusty roll . . .

The North American in me prefers mine with crisp crackers and I always crumble some of them into the soup.  A "common" practice I know . . .  but a leftover from my childhood.  The heart wants what the heart wants  . . .

Yield: 6

London Particular

So named because of the thick "pea soup" fogs that used to plague the city of London for years and years!  This recipe is adapted from a book I have entitled "Mom's Favourite Recipes," published by Octopus Books.


  • 300g dried green split peas, soaked overnight in cold water (1 1/3 cups)
  • 25g butter (2 TBS)
  • 4 rashers/slices streaky bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 litres of ham or chicken stock (6 cups)
  • 1 bay leaf, broken (optional and my inclusion)
  • 1/2 tsp summer savoury (optional and my inclusion)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
To garnish:
  • a handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 4 rashers/strips of streaky bacon, grilled until crisp and snipped


How to cook London Particular

  1. Drain the peas in a colander and rinse.  Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  When it begins to foam add the bacon and onion.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and the bacon has begun to release it's fat. Add the carrot and celery.  Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes or so until golden.
  2. Add the peas and the stock, along with the bay leaf and savoury, if using.  Bring to the boil, stirring.  Boil rapidly for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reduce to low, cover and then cook for about a hour, until the peas are very tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
  3. Cool the soup slightly and then puree half of the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, or use an immersion blender.  Return to the saucepan and reheat.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper. 
  4. Ladle the hot soup into heated bowls, garnishing with parley and bacon.  Serve immediately. Crusty rolls or crackers (my preference) are lovely with this.
Created using The Recipes Generator

When I was a child I would crumble so many crackers into my soup that it became almost pudding-like . . .  I so enjoyed that.  Tomato soup was especially good this way, with a knob of butter melted on top. Oh boy, now I am drowning in happy foodie memories.  Yum! 


  1. My grandmother used to make this soup-marrowfat peas soaked overnight then simmered with a ham bone. I only make the vegetarian version nowadays but this recipe brings back happy memories.

    1. Marrowfat peas are wonderful. I haven't seen a ham bone in many years. Happy for the happy memories. So many of mine are connected with soup also! xoxo

  2. Summer savory is a MUST:) Quite frankly I bay leaf this and that but find it does nothing lol except keep pantry bugs away scattered here and there.Lovely soup and bowl!

    1. I always break my bay leaves in half because I was told once it released all the flavours if you did that! Not sure how true it is, but I do it anyways! Yes they are great pantry bug repellants! xoxo PS- the china is Greengate. I love my Greengate!

  3. I am surpeised that you haven't seen any yellow split-peas in Tesco, Marie, they are a staple here. Do you have access to a good butcher? If you do he/she will be able to provide you with a ham on the bone; failing that, ask at Tesco Deli counter if they will save you the bone from their hand cut ham on the bone, they will propbably be pleased to see it go to a good home. xx

  4. Ask your butcher for a ham hock Marie, perfect for soup and on the bone.

  5. I know this was posted a couple of years ago but you have brought back so many lovely memories of my mum. The recipe is almost exactly what we would affectionately call "Gunge". Not going to make any fine dining cookbooks but delicious all the same. Mum would boil a ham hock or similar cheap cut until cooked. She would retain the resulting stock for later. The hock was allowed to cool and then anything that could be removed was and then passed through a meat grinder. Your method and recipe was then followed with the addition of 1-2 inch cubes of potato, some sliced carrot and the ground meat. Then using enough of the retained stock to cover, simmered for an hour or until the potato was cooked. Possibly a stew now but served with crusty bread a really hearty, cheap dinner. Rank you for for bringing back some lovely memories.

    1. Sounds delicious! My mother always added some potato and carrot to her pea soup as well. You are right, it is a really hearty and cheap dinner! Thank you so much for sharing! xo

  6. Dry peas take 30-40 minutes to cook. No need to soak.

    1. Not all dry peas cook without soaking. These particular peas need to be soaked. ~Marie


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