Stews first showed up some time during the 16th century, but back then they were very different from their modern form. They were primarily consumed on their own in poorer communities, who thickened them only with vegetables.
Translation by Tamás Vaski
The stews made from green peas were the first of the kind that were impacted by the thickening techniques arriving from Austria. Specifically, they were made frothy, thickened much more with flour and sour cream.
Various stews were thickened in different ways, their ingredients changing constantly due to the grocery shortages of the post-First World War period.
The “canteen reform” of the 1950s put green pea stew, together with its flour-based frothing, on a pedestal above all other stews.
It was most often served with fried eggs, meatloaf, or sausage, brutally unflavored and splashed in the middle of the plate.
Two whole generations adored and hated the different types of stews, but I would risk saying that green pea soup was always the most welcomed out of all (however it is possible that I am just biased).
Nowadays, as “retro” foods begin to make a comeback, green pea soup has returned as well, in fact it has even evolved. The new approach is to thicken it with starch instead of flour, but there is also a much healthier technique of thickening it with the peas themselves.
Green Pea Soup
-This is enough for either one generous portion or two smaller portions. feel free to double the quantity of ingredients, they will not go to waste!-
- 300 g green peas
- 3 dl water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 dl milk
- 2 tablespoons starch
- A handful of freshly chopped parsley
Canteen pea stew does not feature fresh parsley, and they likely thickened it with flour back then, but I would recommend at least some starch to be added!
In a large pot, mix the fresh or frozen peas in two tablespoons of cooking oil, add the water, the salt, the crushed garlic, and some black pepper. Cook it all together.
Meanwhile, mix the milk with the starch in a bowl until there are no lumps or clumps. Add a small amount of the hot liquid from the pan into the bowl and mix it some more to get rid of any remaining knots.
Pour the milk-starch mix onto the green peas and cook them together. Add the fresh parsley just before it is completely cooked.
Some may like it “red,” in which case some paprika should be snuck into the pot. Sour cream can also be used instead of milk, accordingly to taste.
The stew can be served simply with eggs sunny-side-up. A more exciting option, however, which we incorporated when decorating the dish, is to use quail eggs instead. These need to be cooked in the same manner as a hen’s eggs, but for a much shorter period of time.
Photos and featured photo by Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today