Dec 8, 2008

Dutch Split Pea Soup

Funny story. Kayotic Kitchen was recently published in a Dutch magazine. The header stated “They even make my split pea soup in Egypt“. I thought I’d die laughing—there is was no split pea soup recipe in my food blog! It was so amusing to read how the interview I gave them had been creatively altered. So I guess it’s about time I slap up an “erwtensoep” recipe, wouldn’t you say?

Even though the color and texture has always been visually very unappealing to me, I still label this ‘best soup in the world‘. Thick, fragrant, hearty and wholesome split pea soup. Comfort food deluxe. I’m often using a lazy Sunday afternoon to make this soup—it takes quite some time to prepare, but it mainly cooks unattended, leaving me with plenty of time for other things while the house fills itself with the fantastic scent of home made soup.

Cooking without frills is what this is, pretty much as straight-forward as it can be. I grew up with this soup so, in my book, this is as Dutch as it gets. It’s amazing how many people online call a bowl of watery green substance with a few floating carrots here and there Dutch split pea soup. That’s not the Dutch version at all!

This is the exact recipe as it lingered around my family for many, many decades. Probably even centuries. It was never changed, nothing was subtracted or added, this is all there is to it. A lot of vegetables and meat is added to the soup making it a perfect winter meal.


2 cups split peas
1 large carrot
2 leeks
2 onions
1/2 celeriac root
celery leaves
6 cups water
4oz bacon
2 pork chops
5 pork ribs
2 potatoes

Optional: smoked sausage


Just seasoned my big dutch oven last night, because nothing works better for erwtensoep -as its called in my country- than a Dutch oven. I’m making quite a bit of soup, so you can also go for half the ingredients if you need less, but note that this soup freezes very well, which I why I make such large quantities.

Gathering the crew.

There are people who soak the split peas overnight, I’m not one of them. I just rinse them.

Notice I’m not starting with the onions this time? It’s taking me all my restraint, but I’m doing it! Oh yes, I am!

With this soup, you shouldn’t be afraid to use fatty meats, I guess. I went for 2 pork shoulder chops that I cut up in bit-size pieces, 5 pork ribs and 4oz bacon. If that isn’t going to flavor the soup, nothing will :)

Cut up a large (or two medium) carrots.

Action time! Coarsely chop 2 potatoes, two onions, 2 leeks, 1/2 a celeriac root (you can also use celery, but it won’t be as good) and coarsely chop a small handful celery leaves.

Now there are lots of different ways to cook a split pea soup. It also depends on how crunchy you want your vegetables to be. In my soup, I don’t want them crunchy at all—they have to blend in with the soup. I also go for easy and fast. Crock-pot style layering. First add two heaping cups of split peas and simply place the meat on top of that.

Now in with the celeriac root, carrots, onions, leeks, potato and sprinkle the celery leaves all over.

Pour in 6 cups of water and I’ve added a few beef bouillon cubes. You can also do this with plain salt, of course. Does this look pretty or what? You know it’s bound to be a flavor bomb!

Now pop the lid on, bring everything to a boil, lower the heat and leave it be. Simmer over low heat for about an hour to 75 minutes. I usually don’t even open the lid until an hour has passed by. Show some restraint and don’t stir. C’mon, you know you want to :)

After about 75 minutes, I took a peek. It smelled so good by then, gave everything a stir and put the lid back on and gave it another hour.

This is what it looks like then! Slowly we’re getting there, it became pretty thick at this point, so I added a little water to it.

After two and a half hours had passed I performed my meat check. If I can easily pull the meat off the bones with a fork, I consider the soup done. It came off so easily, so I took the ribs out, plucked the meat and put it back in.

Now this is a pretty rich soup as is, but I’m a Dutch girl cooking, so we’re not there yet! Oh no, we’re not. I thinly sliced a smoked sausage and popped it right in with the rest of his meaty buddies. That’s the Dutch way.

Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle a little more chopped celery leaves on top.

Now this is Dutch split pea soup!

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    1. 1

      that look tasty kay. so you don’t brown the meat first? if i brown the meat first, will it make a big difference?
      i’m gonna try this one for sure, especially now that it’s getting colder. hmmmm yum

      akemi on Dec 8, 2008 @ 3:28 pm Reply
    2. 2

      Akemi, I never brown the meat first … pretty much no one in Holland does when making a split pea soup. You’d have to try it to see if it works, somehow I doubt it would blend in with the soup as well as it does now. The meat becomes really tender this way.

      Kay on Dec 8, 2008 @ 3:36 pm Reply
    3. 3

      Wow, this looks good! I just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog….the recipes, the pictures and especially the way you have it all layout. I will come back often.

      Susan Mortensen on Dec 8, 2008 @ 4:19 pm Reply
    4. 4

      Hi from Germany! Wow, interesting – I *just* made green split pea soup yesterday, but quasi-Indian style, so very different in taste but just as hearty and apt for a chilly wintry evening.

      I’m vegetarian, so couldn’t use all the meat in your version (yummy as it looks!) – any ideas for what I can add to get the same thick, rich consistency? Tomatoes and maybe coconut come to mind – but ideas would be welcome for a veggie version of your soup!

      Sandhya on Dec 8, 2008 @ 4:33 pm Reply
    5. 5

      Sandhya, Dutch split pea soup without meat is unthinkable :)

      I think I would just add a little more split peas and some extra vegetables if I were you. Especially the celeriac root thickens things quite a bit and gives a very charateristic flavor. You could also add some barley, perhaps?

      Kay on Dec 8, 2008 @ 4:36 pm Reply
    6. 6

      I’ve used everything from ham to a ham hock to Polish sausage in the soup. I grew up on a celery root salad (made like potato salad), so the addition of leeks and celery root were a natural for me. I love the way friends react — they add a unique perspective to plain old split pea soup.

      Steven C. Karoly on Dec 8, 2008 @ 5:52 pm Reply
    7. 7

      Incredible!! This is one of my favorite soups – The best on a cold winter day – Who am I kidding the best on any day!! I just wish hubby liked Pea soup!!

      Cathy on Dec 8, 2008 @ 6:21 pm Reply
    8. 8

      Oh, this looks good. I send my hubby outside with a heavy jacket, a beer, and a dutch oven full of food, and he cooks whatever in the dutch oven with charcoal. This looks like an amazing option for that.

      naomig on Dec 8, 2008 @ 6:59 pm Reply
    9. 9

      Oh that looks soooo yummy, my favorite soup. I like yours with all the meat, I always just use ham..not anymore!

      Catherine McP on Dec 8, 2008 @ 10:00 pm Reply
    10. 10

      Well I don’t think they’ll be making this version of split-pea soup in Egypt (I’m guessing the pork would be hard to come by) but that’s not going to stop those of us who don’t have religious bans on eating pork!

      Jeff D on Dec 8, 2008 @ 10:33 pm Reply
    11. 11

      Hi! I’m a relative newcomer to your site, and I love it! I don’t cook with pork– is there a beef cut or other meat that you can recommend to replace the pork? Thanks!

      Staci on Dec 9, 2008 @ 12:36 am Reply
    12. 12

      Staci, I honestly couldn’t tell you. I’ve never eaten it with beef and no idea what to expect from the combination beef/split pea soup.

      Kay on Dec 9, 2008 @ 9:06 am Reply
    13. 13

      Looks yummie!

      As for a vegetarian version, I’ve always made mine similar to this and just left out the meat (I know, I know, shame on little Dutch me) and increased the celeriac root. 1/2 celeriac root to 1 cup of split peas does the trick for me. I do also add some thyme because I like that, and I eat it with toast (just scoop up the soup with the toast, hehe).
      In fact, you can let it cool and use it as a spread on your toast the next day… :)

      Personally, I wouldn’t try and replace the meat with a vegetarian substitute. It wouldn’t do it justice.

      Tannie on Dec 9, 2008 @ 4:34 pm Reply
    14. 14

      Love this – definitely adding it to my “must try” list

      Giff (constables larder) on Dec 10, 2008 @ 3:10 am Reply
    15. 15

      Thanks for your recipes. I found you from the Pioneer Woman. My dad is a Dutch immigrant (Friesian, actually) and we always make our split pea soup this way. I’ve had a few people complain that it’s too thick, but they obviously aren’t from the Netherlands. :) I’m so glad I found your site and now have some great Dutch recipes. I’m going to have to peruse your site to see if you have oliebollen and banket recipes…I’m hoping so. Thanks again!

      Rach on Dec 10, 2008 @ 4:07 pm Reply
    16. 16

      Thanks Rach! I have to admit I buy my oliebollen, if I make those, my house will still smell like it a month later :)

      Yup, Dutch split pea soup has to be eaten with a knife and a fork :)

      Kay on Dec 10, 2008 @ 4:08 pm Reply
    17. 17

      I linked to you through the Pioneer Women. I married into a dutch family and I have happily embraced my “new heritage”. We just celebrated St. Nicholas and my father-in-law makes the best split pea soup. We also enjoy kroketten and, my absolute favorite, stoopwafels. I love looking at your website and seeing all the foods I get to enjoy here and on my one trip I have been on to Holland.

      Melissa on Dec 10, 2008 @ 6:24 pm Reply
    18. 18

      Really looks great… awesome photos! I’m going to make this at my sisters over Christmas and try to get her 3 year old to try it. It’s a stretch, but his mom will love it. Thanks!

      Petra on Dec 15, 2008 @ 2:37 am Reply
    19. 19


      Oh, lekker……….. good recipe for erwten soup. I’m an Indishe woman (Dutch-Indonesian) and green pea soup is one of our favorite meals. My mom taught me to add some clove and nutmeg to it, it really brings out the flavors of the leeks, celery root and other vegetables. Our soup is not quite as thick but we like it over rice and a side dish of sambal. I am looking for your kroketten recipe.

      I love the way you explain in both words and photographs how to prepare a dish.

      Leuk en heel gezellig.

      Zita on Dec 18, 2008 @ 1:05 pm Reply
    20. 20

      I make it almost the same way you do except I put the carrots, leeks and onions in and sweat them just until the onion gets a wee bit translucent and then add everything else and put the lid on and let it go. I think it just adds a little bit of additional flavor that way. I make almost all my soups this way.

      dick on Dec 20, 2008 @ 10:01 am Reply
    21. 21

      righto.. I bit the bullet and bought the celeriac root – and at 99Euro cent who could go wrong… and boy what a surprise.

      I don’t have a dutch oven in my collection (yet).. so I was worried as I placed the ingredients into the largest pot I have… I kept back some of the root..(what a delicious raw nibble) and the smell in the house is now dehlish :)

      I’m looking forward to dinner tonight – it’s cold outside and more snow is promised!

      Catherine - Belgium on Jan 7, 2009 @ 5:54 pm Reply
    22. 22

      I love this recipe. I’ve made it twice now. Changed it up a bit for what I had on hand but it was amazing!

      Nikki Jean on Feb 2, 2009 @ 12:49 pm Reply
    23. 23

      Thanks so much for including pictures with this recipe! I started making this soup about an hour ago from a recipe that was similar but called for 4 quarts of water. I just happened to go on line to see if there were many variations on this recipe. When I saw your pictures of the finished soup, I realized that mine would never reach that thick consistency. Other than the water proportion difference, the recipe I have is similar to yours. Fortunately, I was able to remove one quart of water before the peas cooked down too much. I can’t wait to taste the finished product and will definitely use your recipe next time.

      Courtney on Feb 15, 2009 @ 11:26 pm Reply
    24. 24

      I have made erwtensoep all my married life with a recipe from my Dutch sister-in-law and have loved it!!!! It’s my favorite soup in the world. However, have always made it the regular way–simmer ham bone and peas for a long time and then add veggies, etc. This recipe looks absolutely delicious and I will have to try it. I can’t think of anything better than it the way I make it but must try this one. I love a thick soup and eaten with crusty bread. I’m anxious to start it. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and the recipe.

      Lulu on Mar 12, 2009 @ 9:44 pm Reply
    25. 25

      Just popping back to this recipe to say – I have now made this twice, and will always make it this way! You somehow have made what was a complicated recipe for me – easy! AND delish, lekker! I have not had a single disappointment with one of your recipes – and that says a lot for cooking…baking is easier sometimes to get just right. (for me anyway!)

      elizabethk on Apr 2, 2009 @ 4:18 pm Reply

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