E is for Erwtensoep

Erwtensoep (pronounced, roughly, “er-ten-soup” with a very soft “n”) is split pea soup. You would think the Dutch invented it, and maybe they did. It’s very traditional food and is perfect for those cold dark stormy nights in winter. DB hates erwtensoep and so does his sister. I think his mom is so happy that I appeared on the scene just so I’ll eat all those delicious traditional foods, like this soup and haring (herring). This last December I came home from their house with 3 frozen dinners of erwtensoep, in separate containers, just perfect for quick dinners during the week. I love the stuff.

And because I love it so much, I’m going to type out the entire entry from the book “The Flavour of Holland” by Hilary Keatinge & Anneke Peters. Give it a try. It’s the next best thing to sitting in a farmhouse out in a polder.

There are probably as many versions of Dutch pea soup as there are people in The Netherlands; Anneke prefers to use pork shoulder for the soup as it is less fatty than the trotters used in her grandmother’s day; the carrots give it a sweet flavour, the potatoes supply the body. As there are numerous kinds of smoked sausage it is up to individual taste whether you use pork, beef, a mixture of the two, or your favourite Polish variety. This soup is a meal in itself and needs no further accompaniment other than slices of dark rye bread and ontbijtspek or any cured bacon or ham. Ontbijtspek is a smoked streaky bacon, sold in wafer thin slices; it can be eaten without any further cooking.


1 lt (4 pts; 2 qts) water
500g (1 lb; 2 1/2 cups) green split peas
500g (1 lb) piece of pork shoulder (including bone)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. thyme
3 cloves
250g (1/2 lb; 1 cup) carrots
200g (7 oz; 1 1/4 cups) onions
250g (1/2 lb; 1 cup) celeriac
250g (1/2 lb; 1 cup) leeks
250g (1/2 lb) smoked sausage
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve:
a few sprigs of celery herbs
slices of black rye bread
100g (1/4 lb) Dutch ontbijtspek or any thinly sliced cured or smoked bacon


  • Put the water, split peas, pork shoulder, bay leaf, thyme and cloves into a large pan and bring to the boil.
  • Remove any scum which rises to the surface.
  • Cover the pan and stirring occasionally, simmer for 45 minutes or until the peas have cooked to a puree.
  • Peel and roughly chop the carrots, onions and celeriac, slice and wash the leeks.
  • Lift the pork shoulder out of the soup, cut the meat into small pieces, discard the bone and return the meat to the soup with the smoked sausage (in one piece) and all the vegetables. Cook gently for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove and slice the sausage, return to the soup.
  • Season with salt and pepper.


  • Chop the celery herb, sprinkle onto the soup.
  • Serve accompanied by thin slices of rye bread spread with a little mustard and topped with ontbijtspek.

Note: For the best results make this soup the day before required and leave it partially covered in a cool place.

Eet smakelijk!

5 thoughts on “E is for Erwtensoep

  1. Vicki March 9, 2008 / 00:43

    Mmmm, I love split pea soup. My mother used to make it with whole peppercorns, which made the whole soup-eating experience a bit of a challenge when we were kids.

    Can’t wait to try this (have already printed it!) — thank you!

  2. Andy B March 11, 2008 / 12:38

    Lekker, hoor! I feel fortunate that Fred loves erwtensoep and we have it regularly. Strange that there are Dutchies who don’t love it. Fred occasionally thinks of something that he suddenly must have that I’ve never even heard of, something he grew up with. The last thing was a strange brown bread topped with exra old cheese. Pretty good.

  3. Vicki March 17, 2008 / 01:28

    I made this last night as my contribution to a celebratory family meal today — pea soup and corned beef sandwiches. I had a little lapse at the store and for some reason came home with a pork roast instead of a ham bone. I cooked it quite a bit longer initially, because of the roast, but everything else was pretty much as directed and the pot was practically licked clean this afternoon! It was EXCELLENT and I am so happy I tried it. Thank you so much for posting.

  4. Venessa June 25, 2009 / 11:25

    Ongelooflik! Love to see people use my language..dat is heel leuk! To say something is Lekker hoor..is very traditional Afrikaans. En dit is fantasties! Ertjiesop is inderdaad heel veel lekker!

  5. Burton September 27, 2011 / 01:42

    This is just the kind of detail I was hunting for. I wish I’d have found your web blog before.

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