Dutch pea soup (erwtensoep)
It must be one of the most famous Dutch soups; erwtensoep or Dutch pea soup. It’s the perfect comfort food for autumn and winter and super delicious. It does take a bit of time to make, but it is worth it!
Dutch pea soup
This delicious and comforting Dutch split pea soup is not difficult to make it just takes a bit of time to let the flavors soak in. Traditionally making this comforting soup required a pig’s trotter but since that is increasingly hard to find I’ve used pork chop and pork belly to make it easier. You need roughly two to three hours to make this soup but it freezes perfectly too so no reason not to make a large batch and freeze for when you have cold weather. It’s also even better the next day.
What can you find in this post
Ultimate comfort food
Here in the Netherlands erwtensoep or this delicious Dutch pea soup is often served when it is time for skating. When all the rivers have frozen over and the whole of the Netherlands goes out to skate on the ice of the frozen canals. They might have a stand next to the ice which is called “Koek en zopie” They usually serve hot chocolate and also you might find this soup there too. It’s a very thick soup so definitely not your average kind of soup. It’s usually served with a Dutch smoked sausage (rookworst) and some rye bread. It’s pretty traditional Dutch food and a lot of people have an old family recipe to make each winter.
How to make the Dutch pea soup
Making the soup you start by taking a large soup pot or a large Dutch oven. You add a bit of butter to the pot and let it melt slowly. Now brown the meat on all sides before you add the first liter of water. Add the green split peas as well. There is no need to pre soak the peas. They are ready to use as is. Add the bay leaf, pepper corns and the stock cubes. Add another litre of water too. Remove any froth that forms on the surface. Let it simmer while you chop all the vegetables. In this case celeriac, carrots, leeks and potatoes. Add it all to the stock and let it simmer for 1,5 to 2 hours until the peas start to fall apart.
Remove the meat from the soup and let it cool down a little bit. Remove the bones from the pork chops.
Chop the meat into smaller pieces and fry in a large skillet to brown the meat and give it some more texture.
While the meat is gone from the soup you can – optionally – use a stick blender to smooth the soup. I never do that though. The soup boils for quite a long time and that breaks down most of the vegetables but if you prefer a smoother texture of the pea soup you can definitely use a stick blender. I would not blend it too smooth though. You do want a bit of texture here.
Once you’ve browned all the cooked meat add it back to the soup and heat it through if needed.
Now this homemade split pea soup is traditionally served with a Dutch smoked sausage also called a rookworst. It’s generally a pork sausage but you can change that into a beef sausage if you want. But considering there’s is already more pork in the soup, I’d stick to the pork version which is usually better tasting.
Freezing the soup
Like I mentioned you can easily make the soup in batches and freeze it. Make sure to use an airtight container to do so. I do not freeze it with the smoked sausage. I add that at the last minute. I just like it better that way, but you could – if you wanted – freeze the sausage in the soup. The smoked sausage only requires gentle heating as it is already cooked (smoked after all) when you buy it. There are a few types which require additional cooking but that is usually mentioned on the package if you buy the sausage.
Additions and substitutions
If this is your first time making this Dutch version of split pea soup I’d stick to the recipe. I would also not attempt to make this a vegetarian version since the meat plays a big role in the soup. You could use chicken broth instead of the water and stock cubes. Instead of the green peas you could go for yellow split peas or a mix of both the yellow and green. That will obviously have an effect on the color of the soup but in terms of taste it is fairly similar. Another thing that would be a good addition is some celery stalks. Just cut them up into smaller bits and add to the soup. Celery root would also be a tasty addition.
Like mentioned this is a perfect soup for cold winters, but not so much for a hot summer. It’s a thick soup and one of the signature dishes of the Netherlands. It is one of my favorite soup recipes. Check the full recipe details in the recipe card including the nutrient information.
It’s been a while since the last time I made this soup but can’t wait for ice and snow to reappear so I can make this delicious soup again!
Looking for more Dutch recipes?
- soup pan
- 500 gr split peas
- 2 pork chops
- 2 thick cuts of pork belly
- 3/4 celeriac in cubes
- 3 leeks sliced
- 4 carrots in cubes
- 150 gr potatoes in cubes
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 peper corns
- 3 stock cubes
- 1 smoked sausage for serving
- Put a bit of butter in a large soup pot. As soon as it is melted add the pork chops and pork belly and bake them until brown. Put a liter of water on top of the meat and bring to the boil. Remove the foam that will start to form. Rinse your split peas in a colander and add to the pot. They do not need to soak first. Add bayleaves, pepper corns and the stock cubes. Add another liter of water and bring to the boil again.
- Clean, chop and cut all vegetables . As soon as everything is cut add it to the stock, turn the heat low and simmer for 1,5 to 2 hours. Remove the pork chops and the pork belly and leave these to cool a little bit. First remove the bone of the pork chops and cut them into smaller pieces and add back to the soup.
- Fry the pork belly in a frying pan until nice and crisp. Then cut into smaller pieces and put back into the soup also
- Remove the bay leaves and add salt and pepper to taste. Cut the smoked sausage into slices and add this into the soup about 15 minutes before serving. When you want to freeze part of the soup, it's best to do this before adding the sausage. You can also heat the sausage separately in a pot of hot water and slice them into your serving bowls.
The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.