The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Well, I had to, didn’t I? It’s October. What other book could I possibly blog about other than The Exorcist, that classic tale of demonic possession, faith, and terror? I’d never read the book, though I’ve seen the movie many times, especially in October. The film hasn’t lost its shock value, though it’s not as terrifying as it was when I saw it as a young girl.

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But the book is genuinely unnerving, creeping up with subtlety and giving you more insight into the characters than is comfortable. Chris MacNeil, in point of fact, is a much more likeable character in the book, though she is still somewhat irritating. Father Karras is even more likeable, particularly because his own crisis of faith and personal guilt are given much more attention and backstory.

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Blatty’s writing is accessible – short sentences, everyday words, and concise narration – which makes it all the more powerful in telling this horrific tale set in Georgetown. This is even more effective when describing some of the more disturbing scenes – Regan and the infamous crucifix, her head twisting completely around, some of the more profane and filthy things she says, the priest falling down those vicious stairs – which really exist, by the way. See below, from my trip to Washington a couple of years ago. A genuinely creepy spot.


I think, at its heart, it’s a book about faith. Whether it’s faith in God, faith in the power of love, faith in science, or faith in the unknown, it’s the idea of believing in something greater outside of ourselves that is the thread tying it together. And then, of course, there was this passage. Of course you know what comes to mind when you read it.

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They went to the Hot Shoppe. Chris ate a salad while Regan had soup (haha, of course she did!), two sourdough rolls, fried chicken, a strawberry shake, and blueberry  pie topped with chocolate ice cream. Where does she put it, Chris wondered, in her wrists? The child was a slender as a fleeting hope.

2017-10-30 06.30.07_resizedSo soup. Of course I made soup! You’re damn right I made soup! SPLIT PEA SOUP! This is the method that worked for me, based on this recipe from, and of course, with my own additions. Plan for about 4-5 hours prep and cook time total.

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2 celery ribs, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 large carrots or 10 baby carrots, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 lb. dried split peas
3-4 ham steaks, cubed
3-4 bay leaves
1 and 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup white wine
3 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed

Melt the butter and olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook and sweat them down for up to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a dash of salt to keep them from burning.

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Add the peas, and stir around to get the vegetable flavors incorporated.

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Pour in the chicken stock, the water, and the wine (how Biblical, right?), and give one good stir.

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Toss in the bay leaves and the sliced-up ham chunks.

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Add the liquid smoke, and season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook on medium-low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The soup will thicken as it cooks.

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For the last hour, check the texture of the peas. If they are still somewhat hard, turn up the heat and bring to a hard boil for at least 45 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

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The potato chunks go in for the last hour, to soften up and break down. This also adds to the soup’s thick, unctuous texture.

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Serve in large bowls and eat with gusto and the knowledge that, with a soup this good, the Devil surely cannot possess your soul. This soup is perfect for a chilly autumn day or if you need to start spewing at a priest. The power of Christ compels you, you know.  #monstermenu

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30 thoughts on “The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

  1. The Exorcist was one of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen – the first time I saw it I felt like something creepy was hanging around me for the next three days. I love the way you put food and stories together. Now, I wonder which scene inspired the soup?! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! The first time I saw it, I had to sleep with my sister for a week, I was so scared. I don’t find it quite as terrifying now, but there are still some shocking scenes. I appreciate your comments and thank you! I promise I was only inspired by the book and not at all by any particular scene in the film. 😉🤮😂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ..ya’ know, these re-posts are genuinely… richly flavored. Another great post, another grand plate – which I’m likely going to make….. and though I’ve never read the book (like anyone past a certain age… we all recall the first time we saw the movie, the freaking scariest thing,) I did pick one up, a copy, actually a first edition hardback (italian) a couple weeks ago at one of the local ‘book tour’ stops (free book stalls, take, give, replace, return.) So I might read it, after all….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a good read, if you give it a whirl. I enjoyed it because it goes into much more detail and depth with the psychology of the characters. Plus, it’s the season for demons and paranormal creepy things!


  3. Yikes! Never read the book, but the movie scared the holy hell out of me when I was younger. Great idea to recreate soup using a green pea recipe. Very apropos. 🙂 I may have to read the book now. Awesome post as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was always terrified of this movie as a kid but as an adult I find it much more fascinating from a psychological viewpoint. It does have some good shock value, though


  4. What a perfect book choice for October! I haven’t read it, but of course, I’ve seen the movie multiple times. Creepy!

    The soup looks scrumptious. I’ve never made split pea soup before. Isn’t that insane? Another recipe to add to my list! Thanks so much for sharing. Loved reading your review and seeing your beautiful pictures once again. You’re such a great writer, Vanessa. Inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

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