Dutch pea soup or snert, is a quintessential winter soup. Don’t think to use this soup as a starter. It’s a meal in itself and a substantial one at that.
Different versions of pea soup can be found in many cuisines. Everywhere where there were peas, someone seems to have had the idea of making soup with it. Despite this, each version is also distinctly different. From the type of peas used, to the type of bread served with it.
Dutch pea soup, called ertwensoep or snert, is a quintessential winter soup. Don’t think to use this soups as a starter. It’s a meal in itself and a substantial one at that. It has a very thick consistency, that’s more like a stew than a soup. To most Dutch people, if you can not put a spoon upright in it, it’s not good snert. I prefer my pea soup to be slightly more liquid than that, but it isn’t a light broth.
Every Dutch person probably has a recipe that they claim to be “the one true recipe”. In reality there are numerous variations. Generally speaking pea soup is made with dried split peas, pork and winter vegetables like celeriac and onions. Originally it contained pig’s feet as well. But because pig’s feet have become nearly impossible to obtain, I substituted these with a pork chop. Whatever piece of pork you decide to use, should at least have a bone on it. After all, it’s the bone that gives the soup its flavour.
Traditionally, pea soup is accompanied by a pumpernickel-like rye bread and bacon. Personally, I think this combination tastes more like cardboard and bacon but feel free to give it a try. There are plenty of Dutchies for whom nothing else will do.
Another ingredient many can not do without is rookworst, Dutch smoked sausage. I’m not a fan, since most commercially available sausages are made with smoke aromatics and they may or may not contain any actual pork. If you do want to add it, do so at the end of the cooking time. If you can’t find this type of sausage you can substitute them with Frankfurters.
Dutch pea soup or snert, is a quintessential winter soup. Don't think to use this soups as a starter. It's a meal in itself and a substantial one at that.
Soak the split peas in cold water, be generous with the amount of water you use. Leave to soak overnight.
Rinse and drain the split peas before adding them to a large soup pot. Add the water, pork chop and bacon. First, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to let the soup simmer.
During boiling a layer of froth will form on the surface of the water. This is normal. Simply skim it off and discard it.
Meanwhile, chop the vegetables into small pieces of about 1 cm (1/2 inch).
Add the vegetables to the soup, along with the salt and pepper.
Bring the soup back to the boil and let it simmer until the peas fall apart. In my experience this will take a minimum of two hours. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent the soup from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When the peas are ready, carefully remove the meat from the pan. Debone the pork chop and remove any unwanted fat. Then cut all the meat into small pieces before adding everything back to the soup.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with some bread.