This is my first Christmas and New Year time in Holland, and I am extremely lucky as it has not been this cold (lowest -10°C) for years since 1997 and that I can witness the great sceneries of ice crystals on the leaves and grass. frozen canals, people go ice-skating on the canals. I had a very nice walk in a Nationaal Park called De Weeribben with my family.
Hopefully by end the week, I can get my own ice-skates and experience skating on the canals (but with inevitable falling of course!)
Today, the outside temperature was -8 °C already and will even go further to -10°C for New Year’s Eve tomorrow. This week I can have so many traditional and comforting Dutch food from my in-laws: Boerenkool (Farmer’s cabbage) stampot, Rode Bieten (own grown red beets), Pannekoek, Opa’s Oliebollen on New Year’s Eve and now tonight we had Erwtensoep which is only prepared in winter. If you travel to Holland, you will see a lot of restaurants or small cafes will have Erwtensoep signs outside their places. I did have tried several of them in the past but they are never as good as my in-law’s, they are mostly too thick for me and luckily the whole family here do not like too thick soup too.
Cooking & Preparation time: 3-4 hours
- 300g green split peas (wash and rinse) (Fig. 1)
- 300g pork hock or spareribs (cut into large pieces)
- 150g Dutch “sauerkraut bacon” or pork belly, it’s fresh not salted nor smoked preferably with rind (cut into pieces)
- 1 smoked sausage (Fig. 2)
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 leek, cut into small pieces
- 1 bunch leaves of Maggi Plant (finely chopped), official name: Lovage (Levisticum officinale Koch)
- 3 litres of water
- 2 cubes of chicken bouillon
- 1 pack Honig erwtensoep soup powder, optional if you can find it in a Dutch grocery shop (Fig. 1)
- Seasonings: salt, pepper,
- Mixed spices: coriander, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, chili. In Holland, there are many prepared packed herbs & spices, this is one for use in meat. You can add pinches of the above instead of the prepared one.
- A handful of small pieces Dried or fresh chives (bieslook in Dutch)
- In a large pan, bring water to boil and then add the pork hock & pork belly into the pan and let them cook for about 2 hours at medium heat. Skim off the floating scum.
- After 2 hours, add in the rinsed peas, chopped onion, leeks and chicken bouillon, let it simmer for over an hour.
- After the 3 hours, take the pork out of the pan, remove rind and bones, and cut it in small pieces. Return the meat to the pan.
- Dissolve the Erwtensoep soup powder in cold water and then add into the pan, keep stirring until mixed. Would be nice if you can find one in your surrounding. It’s very popular these days as it really enhances the flavor of the soup and thicken the soup nicely.
- Wash the maggi plant, cut and chop the leaves.
- Cut the smoked sausage into slices.
- 10 minutes before serving add the smoked sausage and the maggi plant and chives into the soup. Taste and season with salt, pepper and the mixed spices as described above (we have a mixed spice here in Holland specially for meat otherwise if you use the above mentioned spices it will be okay too).
- When it is ready, serve in soup bowls.
- The traditional way is to serve on side with rye bread (pumpernickel), with slices of katenspek (Fig. 2 , it’s a type of Dutch smoked bacon) or Dutch cheese, I like Cumin Cheese personally.
Eet Smakelijk !!!!