Australian/ Dinner/ Lunch/ Recipes/ Snack/ Soup

Pie Floater Recipe with Pea Soup

22/09/2020

Pie floaters are an iconic South Australian street food snack. This pie floater recipe features a crispy, flaky beef pie floating in a delicious homemade mushy pea soup. Serve with your favourite sauce for a filling meal – lunch or dinner!

A pie floater in a white bowl next to a dipping bowl of tomato sauce.

Why We Love This

The pie floater may look like an odd dish at first glance. But there’s something special about the pairing of crunchy, flaky pastry wrapped beef pies floating on mushy green pea soup. You just HAVE to try it!

Pie floaters tick all the boxes: they’re totally delicious and super satisfying, not to mention budget-friendly and easy to make.

With this recipe you can easily make the pea soup and meat pies in advance. Just freeze them separately, then reheat and assemble when you’re ready to eat! 

Top down view of three bowls of pie floaters.

What is a Pie Floater? 

A pie floater is a beef pie served on top of a green pea soup, which is usually thick and mushy rather than smooth like regular pea soup. It’s often often topped with Australian style tomato sauce (quite similar to American ketchup), but other traditional sauce options include mint sauce, bbq sauce, gravy or even malt vinegar depending on your preference.

Where Did They Originate?

This recipe comes to you all the way from our hometown of Adelaide, South Australia. It’s considered to be Adelaide’s original fast food dish, and was always one of Laura’s Dad’s favourite meals to order at the local pub.

The pie floater tradition dates back to the 1870’s, when the original fleet of horse-drawn pie carts would traverse the city streets. Hordes of hungry locals would line up at the carts for a “Floater” as a quick dinner before heading out, or a late night snack before heading home.

With time, the horses morphed into modern food trucks, still drawing the long tram-style carts across the city. Unfortunately nowadays, despite being a South Australian Heritage Icon, the humble pie cart is a rare sight. These days you’re more likely to score a pie floater from a pub, restaurant or bakery – or homemade of course!

If you’re wanting to serve up a sweet treat afterwards, pair these with another classic South Australian snack – Candy Spuds, the small potato-like coconut treats that are melded together with condensed milk and cocoa. Yum!

What You’ll Need

This classic Aussie dish calls for three main ingredients (for the full list see the recipe card below):

  • Meat Pies – You can use any store bought pie if you like, but for the best flavour we recommend making them yourself. Our Mini Meat Pies are the perfect accomplice to your homemade pie floater.
  • Pea Soup – Our traditional-style soup is made with dried blue boiler peas or Marrowfat peas – they give the best texture for mushy pea soup once cooked! However, they both require some pre-planning since you need to soak them overnight. To save time you can use regular peas (fresh, canned or frozen) or green split peas, similar to our homemade Erwtensoep – Dutch Split Pea Soup. You could even use canned pea soup – though the flavour will never be the same as homemade.
  • Tomato Sauce – In Australia we love tomato sauce, which is similar to American ketchup (definitely not canned tomato puree used for pasta).
Boiler peas soaking in a saucepan.

How to make:

  1. Don’t forget that the first part of this recipe is to soak your blue boiler peas in a large saucepan overnight. Otherwise you’ll never get to that thick and lusciously smooth texture. The peas will change colour to a beautiful bright green and DOUBLE in size overnight, so make sure to put them in a large enough saucepan.
  2. Drain your soaked peas, rinse them thoroughly and drain again. Repeat this a few times until the peas are nice and clean.
  3. Pour in your chicken stock and bicarb soda and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the peas have softened and the soup has thickened nicely (around 30-40 minutes). If too much liquid evaporates, pour in a little more water as you go.
  4. While you’re cooking the soup, pop your store-bought or homemade beef pies in the oven to cook through.
  5. Transfer your mushy green pea soup into serving bowls and top with a hot flaky beef pie. Slather with your favourite toppings and tuck right in!

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Add the pie just before serving so the pastry stays crispy and flaky.
  • To be extra authentic you should technically serve the pie upside down in the soup – but we couldn’t bring ourselves to do that when the lids of our homemade pies were so CRISPYYYY.

FAQs

Can I make pie floaters in advance?

Yes, you can make the pies and the soup in advance as long as you store them separately.

How do I store and reheat them?

The pea soup will last for around 3 days in the fridge, up to a few months if stored in the freezer. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top.
Homemade beef pies can be stored in the freezer, then thawed completely before baking in the oven until heated through. Serve your assembled pie floater immediately.

Why do I need to use bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda)?

This helps to break down the tough outer skin of the blue boiler peas, so they can soften and soak up the water.

Why won’t my pea soup thicken? How can I make it thicker?

If you’ve added too much water while cooking the pea soup, you have a couple of options to help thicken it:
– Add pureed vegetables such as potato, carrot or celery (best for extra flavour)
– OR, make a cornflour slurry from 1-1.5 tsp of corn starch and 3 tsp cold water. Stir through the soup to thicken.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Pie – Use any kind of pie that you like – chicken, curry or potato pies would all taste amazing.
  • Make it Vegan – Swap the beef pie for your favourite vegan pie, and use vegetable stock in the soup instead of chicken stock.
  • Tweak the Sauces – Traditional options include mint sauce, BBQ sauce, or malt vinegar. Another popular version is to top with mashed potato and gravy! But if you’re feeling more adventurous, you could try it with Worcestershire sauce, HP sauce, Yakisoba sauce or even Takoyaki sauce. Those last two are amazing Japanese condiments with a similar flavour to BBQ sauce.
A deliciously flaky beef pie sitting on top of a bed of mushy pea soup, drizzled with tomato sauce.

Want more great Aussie recipes to try? Here are some of our all-time favourites:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating below!

Close up shot of a pie floater.

Pie Floater Recipe with Pea Soup

Pie floaters are a classic South Australian street food snack made out of a crispy, flaky meat pie floating in a delicious pea soup. Learn how to make your very own mushy pea soup pie floater – Adelaide style.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Australian
Servings: 4
Calories: 385.25kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $10

Ingredients

Optional toppings (to taste)

Instructions

  • Don’t forget that the first part of this recipe is to soak your blue boiler peas in a large saucepan overnight. Otherwise you’ll never get to that thick and lusciously smooth texture. The peas will change colour to a beautiful bright green and DOUBLE in size overnight, so make sure to put them in a large enough saucepan.
  • Drain your soaked peas, rinse them thoroughly and drain again. Repeat this a few times until the peas are nice and clean.
  • Pour in your chicken stock and bicarb soda and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the peas have softened and the soup has thickened nicely (around 30-40 minutes). If too much liquid evaporates, pour in a little more water as you go.
  • While you're cooking the soup, pop your store-bought or homemade beef pies in the oven to heat / cook through.
  • Transfer your mushy green pea soup into serving bowls and top with the hot flaky beef pie. Slather with your favourite toppings and tuck right in!

Recipe Notes

Tips to get this recipe just right: 
  • Pies – You can use any store bought pie if you like, – beef, chicken, curry or potato pies would all taste amazing. but for the best flavour we recommend making them yourself. Our Mini Meat Pies are the perfect accomplice to your homemade pie floater. Add the pie just before serving so the pastry stays crispy and flaky.To be extra authentic you can serve the pie upside down in the soup.
  • Pea Soup – Our traditional-style soup is made with dried blue boiler peas or Marrowfat peas – they give the best texture for mushy pea soup once cooked! However, they both require some pre-planning since you need to soak them overnight. To save time you can use regular peas (fresh, canned or frozen) or green split peas, similar to our homemade Erwtensoep – Dutch Split Pea Soup. You could even use canned pea soup – though the flavour will never be the same as homemade. If your pea soup is too thin, try adding pureed vegetables such as potato, carrot or celery OR, make a cornflour slurry from 1-1.5 tsp of corn starch and 3 tsp cold water. Stir through the soup to thicken.
  • Tomato Sauce – In Australia we love tomato sauce, which is similar to American ketchup (definitely not canned tomato puree used for pasta).
  • Make it Vegan – Swap the beef pie for your favourite vegan pie, and use vegetable stock in the soup instead of chicken stock.
  • Tweak the Sauces – Traditional options include mint sauce, BBQ sauce, or malt vinegar. Another popular version is to top with mashed potato and gravy! But if you’re feeling more adventurous, you could try it with Worcestershire sauce, HP sauce, Yakisoba sauce or even Takoyaki sauce. Those last two are amazing Japanese condiments with a similar flavour to BBQ sauce.
  • Store & Reheat – The pea soup will last for around 3 days in the fridge, up to a few months if stored in the freezer. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top. Homemade beef pies can be stored in the freezer, then thawed completely before baking in the oven until heated through. Serve your assembled pie floater immediately.

      Nutrition

      Calories: 385.25kcal | Carbohydrates: 45.65g | Protein: 18.84g | Fat: 13.85g | Saturated Fat: 3.8g | Cholesterol: 19.75mg | Sodium: 1400.55mg | Potassium: 700.75mg | Fiber: 7.13g | Sugar: 12.33g | Vitamin A: 1406.25IU | Vitamin C: 51.1mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 3.72mg
      Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
      Pie Floater Recipe with Pea Soup

      20 Comments

    • Reply
      Anna
      17/09/2020 at 3:54 pm

      Hi,

      Is green split peas similar to blue boiler peas? Can I use them instead?

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        17/09/2020 at 5:08 pm

        Hey Anna!

        I’d use regular peas in the first instance. Instead of soaking them, you can boil them straight away, or just use a can of peas and cook until mushy and use half the chicken stock.

        If you don’t have regular peas, then you can definitely use your green split peas. They will just have a slightly different texture and flavour. You could actually use our Split Pea Soup recipe for the base instead, up to you!

        Hope this helps!

    • Reply
      AP
      25/05/2019 at 5:27 pm

      …so where does the Bicarb Soda fit in…???

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        06/06/2019 at 11:45 am

        Hi AP, thanks for stopping by! Great pickup – that’s meant to go in along with the chicken stock. We’ve updated the recipe now. 🙂

    • Reply
      George
      18/02/2019 at 5:58 am

      I know “tomato sauce” isn’t ketchup but is it just tomato sauce straight out of can?

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        18/02/2019 at 2:25 pm

        Hey George! Tomato sauce is the Australian term for Ketchup. 🙂 You could definitely try the recipe with canned tomatoes or passata and see how it turns out. Who knows! Haha otherwise, stick with ketchup. 🙂

    • Reply
      Fair-go Dibbler
      14/11/2016 at 3:54 am

      5 stars
      Looked up this recipe after listening to “The Last Continent ” by Terry Pratchett. But I’ll have to find a sauce recipe. Sorry, but I’m not spending over $30 for tomato sauce! No worries, good-on-ya!

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        18/11/2016 at 10:41 am

        Hey, thanks for stopping by! Got to love Terry Pratchett’s works, he was such a hilariously clever writer. Now, re the tomato sauce, looks like the shipping fee was the killer there! You could check out an import store and see if they stock any – we found Australian Vegemite and Tim Tams in the most random countries on our adventures, so you never know!

    • Reply
      Noble Ayaia
      01/09/2016 at 12:32 pm

      There is nothing more iconic than the Aussie meat pie. We all love it and we all know a good pie immediately. Smothered with tomato sauce, not ketchup, this is comfort food down under.

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        06/09/2016 at 12:01 pm

        Couldn’t have said it better ourselves. 😉

    • Reply
      Jovita @ Yummy Addiction
      07/08/2016 at 6:39 am

      5 stars
      What an amazing idea to pair meat pies with pea soup. Looks like a perfect lunch or light dinner!

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        09/08/2016 at 12:53 pm

        It’s an oldie but a goodie! And yep, just as good for lunch or dinner, and often eaten just as a snack too (depending on the size of those meat pies!).

    • Reply
      J@BlessHerHeartYall
      07/08/2016 at 1:10 am

      5 stars
      Oh yum! I have never seen or heard of this but it looks absolutely delicious! I need to try this ASAP!

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        09/08/2016 at 12:51 pm

        Go go go! Let us know what you think J! 🙂

    • Reply
      Amanda {Striped Sptaula}
      07/08/2016 at 12:00 am

      5 stars
      I’ve never heard of a pie floater, but YUM! Homemade pea soup is one of my favorites, and I can imagine that the meat pie and tomato sauce must take it to the next level. Sounds great!

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        09/08/2016 at 12:48 pm

        Totally agree Amanda, pea soup is amazing! And Aussies are nothing if not ingenious when it comes to food pairing hahaha. 😛 Hope you enjoy!

    • Reply
      Igor @ Cooking The Globe
      06/08/2016 at 3:05 am

      5 stars
      I have never heard about this dish, but it looks amazing. Meat pies + pea soup = awesomeness!

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        09/08/2016 at 12:45 pm

        Haha yep, nailed it Igor! 🙂

    • Reply
      Florentina
      05/08/2016 at 1:10 pm

      5 stars
      This is all new to me too and I’m game. Your puppy looks like my baby Nala’s brother. Major awwwww moment over here!

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        09/08/2016 at 12:45 pm

        Couldn’t imagine life without our pups! 🙂

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