|image from Unox|
While digging around the internet, this site explained that pea soup was used during lent in the Netherlands as a substitute for meat-based stews and bouillons. I'm no food historian, so I can't say whether that was the case in other parts of Europe, but it would certainly make sense to create a nutrient dense and plant-based food during that all important season of abstention. It makes me think of the Starkbiere festival in Bavaria, historically created to add extra calories to diets lacking in meat during a time of year when there was very little in the way of non-animal foodstuffs. Why don't Americans have fun late winter traditions like this? Who wouldn't want to get crazy drunk with a bunch of friends while wearing Lederhosen and listening to polka music? Too many Protestants? I'm digressing, and besides, the Netherlands has had plenty of somber Calvinists who don't pay attention to Lent. Furthermore, do you see the amount of pork in that bowl of soup? Nothing meat free about it. While some form of the dish may have had its roots in days of yore, the current variation is heavy on the pig.
I love this drawing from an internment camp in Indonesia during WWII. In it women are serving, among other things, pea soup to the camp inhabitants. That such a heavy, winter dish had its place in what was most likely a hot and humid camp. Then again, I think they took what they could get and most certainly would not have been dissatisfied.
|image from Het Geheugen van Nederland|