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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Erwtensoep (Split pea soup)

Oh, the ubiquitous Dutch split pea soup......on my way from work I saw snow on the mountains and it made me think of erwtensoep, split pea soup. When it's cold in Holland and people go ice skating on the lakes and the canals, it is traditional that a small food shack called "koek-en-zopie" sits next to the ice, selling hot split pea soup, coffee, mulled wine and cookies. It's a great way to warm up for those tired and cold after such a wonderful day on the ice. I'll be darned, but each time I've gone skating I've never seen one of those shacks. May have something to do with the fact that I've only been skating once or twice in my life and the experience was so unpleasant that I may have blocked the memory of a soup shack. I fail miserably in the skating department, it is a very un-Dutch side of me.......

But I hopefully redeemed myself by making a very good split pea soup: it even passed the "wooden spoon" test! (i.e. the soup is so thick that a wooden spoon will stand up on its end and not fall over when stuck in the soup).  Hand over those bitterballen, I'm back!

2 cups of split peas
4 cups of water
1 carrot, peeled
2 ribs of celery
1/2 an onion, peeled
1 bay leaf
black pepper
pinch of salt

About 12 little smokies or half a kielbasa

Rinse the split peas and remove anything that doesn't belong (stones, sticks, dried up discolored peas...). Put the peas and the water in a Dutch oven. Mince the vegetables and add to the peas. Bring to a boil, add the bay leaf and simmer for about 40 minutes. When the peas are soft, remove the bay leaf and either puree or just stir the soup several times, the peas will dissolve and give it a creamy consistence. Stir in the smokies or the kielbasa (slice before adding), heat until warm and taste. Add pepper and salt if needed.

This is an easy, quick solution for when you come home and want a filling, comforting soup. I keep a pack of smokies in the freezer just for this soup. 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. If you have more time, use the same ingredients but simmer the soup with a smoked ham hock instead.....the soup will be so much richer and smokier for it, but little smokies will do in a pinch.

Traditionally, this soup is served with dark rye bread and pancetta.

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