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Catholic Recipe: Pease Porridge


  • 2 cups split peas
  • 2 quarts water or stock
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Details

  • Prep Time: 1 day, 3 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 11+
  • Origin: Scotland

Also Called: Split Pea Soup

Passion Sunday is now combined with Palm Sunday in our liturgy, and is celebrated the Sunday before Easter. At this Mass we have the triumphal entry of Christ on the donkey into Jerusalem, with everyone waving palm branches and shouting "Hosanna to the King of David!" These shouts of joy are quickly overshadowed by the reading of the Passion at the gospel. Florence Berger recalls some of the Lentent prayers and traditions of Passion Sunday, including a recipe for Pease Porridge (Split Pea Soup).

Passion Sunday comes to all and our Christ is hidden from us. He has gone again out of the temple into hiding. Like sheep without their shepherd, we huddle together to gather strength and courage in the nearness of our neighbor. Every Mass we have offered in common during Lent has been an expression of this solidarity in Christ and in our own numbers. Every prayer in the Lenten liturgy is a cry of humanity humbled, weak and close to despair.

If we think we are troubled today, we can speak a common language with the Romans of the fifth century who composed those Lenten prayers. They were in dead earnest when they cried, "Oh Lord, ever cleanse us from our own faults and defend us from all adversity." Rome, once rich and proud, was being robbed of its gold and bronze and pillaged by Huns and Vandals. Those Romans were willing to bow down their heads before God and beg, "Grant we beseech Thee Almighty God: that we who knowing our weakness, trust in Thy strength." The Goths had broken the aqueducts, and the streams and fountains of drinking water had dried up. Those Romans felt that God had forsaken them and yet with a mighty lament they entreat, "Draw near to us, O Lord our God, and by Thy unfailing help defend those whom Thy mysteries have refreshed." The Tiber had flooded what remained of the city, and plague "prowled in the night."

As our Lenten prayers mount in intensity while the days of Passiontide advance, so we as Christian mothers prepare for Easter, our greatest feast, with increased charity and joy.

Passion Sunday is called Car-Sunday in Scotland. Pease were carlings in those days, and

Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.

was a Sunday dish in Lent. It isn't bad as a one dish meal for a fast day.


Soak peas in water overnight. Then simmer with fresh vegetables for about three hours. Mash vegetables. Add seasoning to taste. Serve hot with buttered croutons.

If you have a pressure cooker you can finish the soup in 15 minutes at 15 pounds pressure, and the peas will need no soaking. Add a ham bone or two slices of diced, fried bacon if it is not a fast day. May you enjoy your carling, but especially your Sunday. Even in Lent our Sunday is a day of joy, an anniversary of the Resurrection, and "it would be unlawful to be sad today."

Recipe Source: Cooking for Christ by Florence Berger, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 4625 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50310, 1949, 1999
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