Erwtensoep, or green split pea soup, is very typical Dutch food. It is commonly eaten during the winter months when people need something hearty to warm themselves up. In Holland it is also known as ‘snert’. Normally Erwtensoep is made with green split peas. But in this recipe I used simple frozen peas, as I was unable to find the split peas in my present location.
I was inspired to make this again after eating snert last week in the Netherlands.
This pea soup is normally very thick and contains pork hidden away in the ingredients. So do not expect it to be vegetarian. It is not.
Also, this would not be a Dutch pea soup without the slices of Dutch rookworst (smoked sausage) that you should find in it.
It is also very filling so you will not need much to warm you up, or fill you up!
Dutch Winter Wonderland
During winter in the Netherlands, one of the most wonderful moments is when the mercury dips low enough to freeze the waterways. Then the Netherlands transforms into a giant, glittering ice rink.
Locals dust off their skates, don their woolly hats, and take to the frozen expanses with gleeful abandon. They glide past historic windmills, under quaint bridges, and past picturesque towns, immersing themselves in scenes straight out of a storybook.
Or if you have really crazy kids like mine, then it may look like this! This was my eldest, clearing the ice on our pond (quite a few years ago now!)
When the weather is like this, which is these days unfortunately not every winter any more, people will take time off work to spend time on the ice. The polder (the reclaimed land that is recognizable by all the canals which provide the drainage for the land) becomes a hive of activity.
This is the time when erwtensoep comes into its own.
Erwtensoep and skating
During these tours along the ice in the polder there are often little stalls where you can get ‘koek-en-zopie’. This roughly translates as ‘cake and drink’, but in reality means erwtensoep and hot chocolate! This is what the Dutchies eat and drink to keep warm. Or you may find some mulled wine and kerstkransjes or kletskoppen.
These may be makeshift stalls, or in the canteens of the skating clubs in the polder. But the atmosphere is great on these days. We used to live in a dijk house that backed onto the polder and we could skate away from our back garden to our friends along the dijk. It was always very ‘gezellig’ or ‘cozy’!
Unfortunately, lately, climate change has its effects and the cold winters are different now. In the past on a really cold year, the Elfstedentocht (a 200km eleven city tour) might take place through the canals of Friesland – although the last one was only held in 1997. You need at least a 12-day cold spell to be able to hold an Elfstedentocht.
Anyhow, I hope you enjoy making this delicious soup.
If you do then please let me know how you get on in the comments section below, and how you improved it!
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How to make Dutch Erwtensoep