This morning, when I looked out the window, there was snow on the mountains, and the temperature had dropped significantly overnight. Seeing the snow and smelling the crisp air all of a sudden made me crave erwtensoep, a comforting Dutch split pea soup. It's no wonder that this soup is served when people take their new year's dip in the North Sea each January 1st - it is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup, hearty, comforting and provides plenty of fuel.

Split pea soup can also be found for sale in "koek-en-zopie" shacks on, or next to, the frozen canals and lakes. These shacks sell hot soup, mulled wine, coffee and cookies - a great way to warm up after a fun day on the ice!

Snert, another name for erwtensoep, is a popular dish in Holland, and will often be quoted as THE Dutch soup. As of February 2019, it has even been added to the list of Dutch intangible cultural heritages! But as popular as it may be, pea soup has been around much longer than we have, and many cultures have a version of soup made with peas. In our case, the soup features smoked pork meat and tends to be thick - in fact, so thick that a wooden spoon can stand up straight without falling over!

The soup can be served for lunch as the main dish, or as a starter. It is often served with dark rye bread and bacon on the side, or in this case, with plain pancakes. For a more exotic twist, people will sometimes serve erwtensoep over rice, with a lick of sambal or sriracha sauce and fried onions on top. If you're not in the mood for pancakes, and don't feel like rye bread, try the rice sometime!

This basic recipe is ready in less than an hour. The pork can come in a variety of ways: bacon, kielbasa, smokies, smoked neck bones.....You can chose only one, or combine two, but flavorwise, it's best to have at least one smoked meat product in there. I personally like a smoked rope sausage and two pork chops. Makes enough for four generous servings.

2 cups split peas (450 grams)
7 to 8 cups water (1.6 to 1.8 liters)
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 ribs celery (or one cup diced celery root)
1 small onion, peeled
2 bay leaves
Black pepper, optional
Pinch of salt, optional
About 12 little smokies, and/or a smoked rope sausage, rookworst, thick bacon or pork chops.

Rinse the split peas and remove anything that doesn't belong (stones, sticks, dried up discolored peas...). Put the peas and 7 cups of water in a soup pot. Chop the vegetables and add to the peas. Bring to a boil, add the bay leaves, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. Make sure the soup does not burn so give it a stir every now and then - and add some water if you feel the soup is getting too thick.

If you are using smoked pork chops, or neck bones, simmer them with the soup for a good twenty minutes, then remove and shred the meat. Add the meat back to the soup.

When the peas are soft, remove the bay leaf and either puree the soup with a stick blender or just stir the soup several times vigorously. The peas will dissolve and give it a creamy consistence. Stir in the little smoked sausages or the kielbasa (slice before adding), and heat the soup back up until the meat is hot. Taste the soup, and adjust the salt level if needed. Add a dash of black pepper, if you like.

This is an easy, quick solution for when you come home and want a filling, comforting soup. I always keep a pack of little smoked sausages or a kielbasa in the fridge just for that. Split peas do not have to be soaked in order to cook quickly so you can have this soup on the table in less than an hour.

1 1/2 cup (225 grams) flour
1 1/2 cup milk (350 ml)
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter (± 30 grams), melted but not hot
Butter to fry

Mix the flour, milk, eggs into a batter and add the salt, and the two tablespoons of butter. Cover and rest for thirty minutes. Heat a frying pan, on medium temperature. Melt one tablespoon of butter and add 1/2 cup of batter.  Flip the pancake when the bottom is golden and fry the other side. Makes six to 8 pancakes. Store under tea towel or pan lid to keep soft.

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  1. Zelf gebruik ik altijd hambouillon (overgebleven als ik een ham kook) daar doen ik varkenspoten en country style ribs in. Aan de kook brengen met laurierblad, kruidnagel, zout en natuurlijk de spliterwten en de onderkant van bleekselderij. Dit laat ik dan een uurtje koken, totdat het vlees gaar is. Het vlees haal ik eruit en dan doe ik wortelen, prei, bleekselderij en aardappels erin. Het vlees van het bot halen en weer terug in de pan. (de varkenpootjes doe ik niets meer mee) Als de groente gaar is, is je soep klaar. Op worst na dan. Daar gebruik ik Red Hot Sausage voor, is lekker pittig. Wij eten het dan altijd als snert en niet als erwtensoep. ;-) Ik maak wel altijd voor een weeshuis en vries een deel in.

  2. Het is op de een of andere manier niet mogelijk om *niet* voor een heel weeshuis te koken met soepen als deze! :-)Gelukkig smaken ze beter naarmate ze langer pruttelen....Snert laat zich goed invriezen, goed idee!

  3. Bedankt voor dit recept, en deze hele website eigenlijk. Het is zoveel makkelijker mijn Amerikaanse vrienden hier in college Nederlands eten te laten zien. Ik zit eraan te denken dit voor Thanksgiving voor vrienden te maken. Voor hoeveel personen is dit recept?
    Thanks from a Dutch student in Ohio. (:

    1. Anna, dit recept is genoeg voor 4-6 personen: vier als een maaltijdsoep, en zes als voorgerecht. Smakelijk eten en alvast een hele gezellige Thanksgiving!

  4. Lekker, maar ik gebruik altijd een paar stronken prei in plaats van celery :)

  5. My mom used to make split pea soup for us all the time as kids, but hers is, I'm sure, more of a Scandinavian version (she is of mostly Swedish and Norwegian descent). We will be making it this way soon, but I can't tell Mom.

  6. I used to eat this when I lived in Best - it was always called Snert (day-old Erwtensoep!). Altijd lekker !!!

  7. Thank you so much for your site! My husband is Dutch but we live in the U.S. I love to cook Dutch food but always had a hard time finding Dutch recipes with American measurements and ingredients that are available here (nice to know I can use kielbasa instead of rookworst). Your site has been a godsend! I'm making this soup this weekend :)

  8. I use chicken broth instead of water or water with bullion cubes.


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