Erwtensoep: real Dutch pea soup
Dutch cuisine has few internationally known highlights. Gouda cheese is one them, maatjesharing (young herring eaten slightly salted but essentially raw) is another. Snert or pea soup is also an icon of Dutch cuisine. As with all traditional recipes Dutch pea soup is made in many different ways. It is an ideal soup to make in large quantities for big gatherings, or to put in a freezer in portions for one or two persons.
Snert must be very thick: a spoon should be able to remain upright in the middle of the pan. To reach the preferred thickness you must prepare the soup one day in advance and reheat it very carefully before serving. Stir occasionally!
If the heat is too strong you will get a thick black cake on the bottom of the pan.
The microwave oven is ideal for reheating one or two portions.
Real Dutch pea soup is made with pork. The sausage which is traditionally added to the soup is "Gelderse rookworst": smoked pork sausage from which the ends are tied together, originally from the province Gelderland in the Netherlands. You can use other smoked pork sausage instead, or Frankfurters.
Ingredients for about 3 litres (6 to 12 persons)
500 gram (2 1/2 cup) split peas
1 piece of gammon with bone, or pork hock, about 500 gram (1 pound), or spareribs, or two pig's trotters
100 gram (3 ounces) streaky bacon or Dutch "sauerkraut bacon": streaky pork, salted but not smoked, preferrably with rind
1 smoked sausage
2 large onions, chopped not too small
1 large carrot
1 bunch celery
pepper and salt to taste
2 litre (8 cups/4pints) water to start with
bread or rye bread (pumpernickel), with -if you can get it- slices of "katenspek" (lightly streaked pork, first boiled and then smoked black)
Rinse the split peas in a sieve under the running tap.
Split peas don't need soaking in water. Bring water to the boil with the peas, gammon and bacon. Let it boil and skim off the floating scum. Pour all water off, rinse peas (and meat) again and put them back on the fire with clean water.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegatbles:
Cut the skin of the celeriac, peel the potatoes, and dice celeriac and potatoes. Peel the carrot and dice it. Cut the leeks and wash them. Add the vegetables to the pan and let simmer until the peas are done (one and a half to two hours, the split peas must be broken).
Take the meat out of the pan, remove rind and bones, and cut in small pieces. Return the meat to the pan. Wash the sprigs of celery, and chop or cut the leaves. Twenty minutes before the end of cooking, add the whole smoked sausage and the celery.
Taste, finish off with pepper and salt.
The pea soup is still fairly liquid. Let it cool completely and reheat it the next day, or freeze in portions. When you want to freeze the soup, add the smoked sausage when reheating, or divide the sausage in equal quantities over the portions.
In large bowls, with bread. Older cookbooks (nineteeth century) prescribe toasted white bread, later cookbooks rye bread (pumpernickel), with katenspek (cooked and smoked bacon) or other cooked and smoked streaky bacon. And no one will punish you if you use French bread instead of rye bread.