Pea soup – is it Persian? Food with a history!

There were many things that were new to me when I came to Sweden in 1966 as a student. One of those things was the menu on Thursdays consisting of pea soup with pancakes. It’s still on many restaurants’ menu just on Thursdays. How come one might think!

According to, the dish has been eaten here in Sweden since the 1200s. They ate it on Thursdays (the day before the fasting in the Roman Catholic Middle Ages) so that they could manage Friday’s fast! Even though Sweden ceased to be Catholic, the tradition of the heavy, comforting meal continued. The very special alcoholic drink Punch was served together with the pea soup because it was said to reduce the building of gas!  Punch is a traditional liqueur in Sweden and produced from arrack, other spirits (often brandy or rum), sugar and water.

The famous Swedish author August Strindberg liked the pea soup and called it for Gods food.

According to Edward Blom, a cultural historian and gastronomist, the peas were unofficial currency in the past and people could pay for goods with small cases of peas!

The combination of pea soup and pancakes started in the mid1900s when restaurants thought that it was difficult to serve just a soup or just a dessert, that is how the tradition to combine pea soup with pancakes started. According to, pea soup has a history from countries such as Iran, Iraq, India, Russia and a few other Northern European countries.


Ingredients for 3 people
5 dl dried yellow peas
15 dl of water
1/2 tablespoon salt to soak
13 dl of water
1/2 tablespoon salt to boil
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves
2 bay leaves
3 – 4 pieces of whole allspice
250g chopped salted or smoked shoulder of pork
2 teaspoon of dried marjoram
2 teaspoon of dried thyme
A bunch of fresh thyme
1/4 of teaspoon turmeric (can be excluded)


  1. Soak the peas in water and salt overnight or at least 6 hours.
  2. Put the allspice and peppercorns in a tea strainer.
  3. Tie up the fresh thyme with some cooking string.
  4. Drain and pour the peas into a pan together with 13 dl of water and 0,5 tablespoons of salt, one whole onion, dried marjoram, dried thyme, fresh thyme, bay leaves, turmeric, and the tea strainer. Bring it to a boil and let simmer for 1 hour. Skim off and take away all the skin from the peas that come to the surface.
  5. After one hour, pick up the onion, tea strainer, fresh thyme, and the bay leaves.
  6. Use a hand mixer and take some quick turns with it.
  7. Add the well-chopped pork and bring it to a boil again, let it simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  8. Taste and correct seasoning to your taste.

Ready to serve! Serve with mustard and some nice bread. You can also use smoked ham – in that case, chop it well and add it for the last 15 minutes.


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