Pease Porridge is dried peas cooked to a purée. They may be seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Sometimes additional flavouring of butter and onion, and / or a piece of bacon, is added.
It can be served as is, or further cooked by baking in an oven in mounds.
When cold, it gets quite firm. At Fish and Chip shops in England, you can by slices of Pease Porridge, dipped in batter and fried up.
Pease Porridge was eaten at every level of British society. The only difference was the Pease Porridge for richer levels of society would have more ingredients — poorer levels might not even be able to afford salt, for instance — and have a few more steps in its preparation.
The easiest way was to prepare it was to wrap the peas, and a piece of bacon or ham for flavouring, in a piece of cloth, tie the cloth up, and put it inside a pot with something else that you would be simmering for a while. No thickening would be needed, there was enough starch in the peas themselves.
Mrs Beeton had a more elaborate recipe. She’d have you soak the dried peas overnight first, tie up in cloth, simmer in rainwater (sic), then take them out of the cloth, drain, mash with butter, egg, pepper and salt, then pack into a cloth again, simmer again, then serve,
Those better-off would use Pease Porridge as a side dish. Poorer people might thin it out, and basically serve it as a soup (or “pottage”, if you prefer), being the entire meal. And if they didn’t have enough peas, their Pease Porridge could be thickened with oats or bread or some kind of flour.
Literature & Lore
Pease pudding hot
Pease pudding cold
Pease pudding in the pot
Nine days old.
Some like it hot,
Some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot
Nine days old!
Pease was originally the singular form of the word pea (the ‘se’ at the end was dropped in the mid 1700’s.) “Pea” was the plural.
In America, this is more likely to be referred to as “pease porridge”; in the UK, as “pease pudding.”