Take at their fullest size, but before they are of bad colour or worm-eaten, three pints of fine large peas, and boil them as for table (see Chapter XV (Vegetables).) with half a teaspoonful of carbonate of soda in the water, that they may be very green. When they are quite tender, drain them well, and put them into a couple of quarts of boiling, pale, but good beef or veal stock, and stew them in it gently for half an hour, then work the whole through a fine hair-sieve; put it into a clean pan and bring it to the point of boiling; add salt, should it be needed, and a small teaspoonful of pounded sugar, clear off the scum entirely, and serve the soup as hot as possible, with small pale sippets of fried bread. An elegant variety of it is made by adding a half pint more of stock to the peas, and about three quarters of a pint of asparagus points, boiled apart, and well drained before they are thrown into it, which should be done only the instant before it is sent to table: the fried bread will not then be needed.
Green peas, 3 pints: boiled 25 to 30 minutes, or more. Veal or beef stock, 2 quarts (with peas:) 1/2 an hour. Sugar, one small teaspoonful; salt, if needed.
When there is no stock at hand, four or five pounds of shin of beef, boiled slowly down with three quarts of water to two, and well seasoned with savoury herbs, young carrots, and onions, will serve instead quite well. A thick slice of lean, undressed ham would improve it.
Should a common English peas soup be wished for, make it somewhat thinner than the one above, and add to it, just before it is dished, from half to three quarters of a pint of young peas boiled tender, and well drained.
Boil tender, in three quarts of water, with the proportions of salt and soda directed for them in Chapter XV (Vegetables)., one quart of large, full grown peas; drain and pound them in a mortar, mix with them gradually five pints of the liquor in which they were boiled, put the whole again over the fire, and stew it gently for a quarter of an hour; then press it through a hair-sieve In the mean time, simmer, in from three to four ounces of butter,* three large, or four small cucumbers, pared and diced, the hearts of three or four lettuces shred small, from one to four onions, according to the taste, cut thin, a few small sprigs of parsley, and, when the flavour is liked, a dozen leaves or more of mint, roughly chopped: keep these stirred over a gentle fire for nearly or quite an hour, and strew over them a half-teaspoonful of salt, and a good seasoning of white pepper or cayenne. When they are partially done, drain them from the butter, put them into the strained stock, and let the whole boil gently until all the butter has been thrown to the surface, and been entirely cleared from it; then throw in from half to three-quarters of a pint of young peas, boiled as for eating, and serve the soup immediately.
When more convenient, the peas, with a portion of the liquor, may be pressed through a sieve, instead of being crushed in a mortar; and when the colour of the soup is not so much a consideration as the flavour, they may be slowly stewed until perfectly tender in four ounces of good butter, instead of being boiled: a few green onions, and some branches of parsley may then be added to them.
Green peas, 1 quart; water, 5 pints; cucumbers, 3 to 6; lettuces, 3 or 4; onions, 1 to 4; little parsley; mint (if liked), 12 to 20 leaves; butter, 3 to 4 ozs.; salt, half-teaspoonful; seasoning of white pepper or cayenne: 50 to 60 minutes. Young peas, 1/2 to 3/4 of a pint.
We must repeat that the peas for these soups must not be old, as when they are so, their fine sweet flavour is entirely lost, and the dried ones would have almost as good an effect; nor should they be of inferior kinds. Freshly gathered marrowfats, taken at nearly, or quite their full growth, will give the best quality of soup. We are credibly informed, but cannot assert it on our own authority, that it is often made for expensive tables in early spring, with the young tender plants or halms of the peas, when they are about a foot in height. They are cut off close to the ground, like small salad, then boiled and pressed through a strainer, and mixed with the stock. The flavour is affirmed to be excellent.