There is a sweet and funny family story that inspired me to make my own version of Erwtensoep or Dutch Pea Soup. If you are lucky enough to know my partner Wouter, a Dutch man who tells a good story, you may also have heard the tale of him and his late Mother Elizabeth’s restaurant meal concerning “This is NOT Erwtensoep!”
Now, according to Elizabeth real Dutch Pea Soup has no potatoes even though you can order it many places in The Netherlands with this addition. Her firm belief in the absence of potatoes…a long-suffering Waiter, and Wouter…as well as a bowl of pea soup led to a bit of hilarity that only exists in the retelling. I leave it at that.
After much research and discussions with Wouter about Dutch Pea Soup, combined with my fondness for all things “peas and potatoes”, I made this cross-culinary version using Southern USA country ham hocks, split green peas and baby Yukon gold potatoes. It is a most delicious soup. Although Elizabeth is no longer with us and she might possibly declare “This is NOT Erwtensoep” I do believe even she would find it tasty. Bon Appetit and Laten We Eten!
These little salt and pepper ducks that I bought in Budapest last summer look right at home in this multi-culinary setting. A Dutch Pea Soup made with Southern USA Ham Hocks and seasoned with Salt and Pepper from Hungarian Ducks!
A photo of shelves and shelves of cans of Ertwensoep I took on our last trip to Amsterdam while grocery shopping.
Erwtensoep - Dutch Pea Soup
- 1 1/2 cups dried split peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 small onion chopped
- 4 cups low-fat chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1/4 lb piece of lean ham hock or a country ham slice if you cannot find hock
- 6-8 baby Yukon gold potatoes, cut into chunks
- Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
- Put split peas, broth, onion and about 2 cups of water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn to simmer and add the ham hock or country ham.
- Cook for 20 minutes and then add the potatoes. Simmer another 20 minutes or just until split peas and potatoes are softened. Add more broth or water if need be.
- Remove the ham hock and shred the lean meat and add back to the soup. Season with freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Serve hot.
Teresa Blackburn www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com www.foodonfifth.com
Comfort food in a world of chaos and uncertainty is what many of us home cooks create to ease the tensions of daily life. Few foods are more comforting than soups. The ease of preparation and ingredients, the simple cooking methods…these are things we can control when there is so much going on around us that we cannot.
My version of the classic French “Soup au Pistou” is one of my comfort foods on these November days when darkness comes early and there is a chill in the air and in a small place in my heart.
Pistou is somewhat like pesto but without pine nuts. Just a blend of fresh basil leaves, garlic and olive oil all smashed together either in a mortar and pestle, or as I did in a food processor. Pistou is a sauce or condiment from the Provence region of France and you will find it simple and easy to make.
Do you ever add the rinds of Parmesan cheese to your pot when making hearty soups? Try it if you have not. It is a good way to use those flavorful rinds and will make your finished soup even more delicious.
I love cornbread so these crispy “Black Pepper-Thyme Cornbread Sticks” are good to serve with this soup. Baked in a sheet pan and then cut into sticks make them great “dippers”.
Eat well. Be kind to yourself and others.
Cannellini Bean-Vegetable Soup with Pistou and Black Pepper Cornbread Sticks
Ingredients for Soup:
- Splash of olive oil
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 2 leeks thinly sliced, white and pale green parts
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1 zucchini squash, sliced & cut into half moons
- 1 yellow squash, sliced and cut into half moons
- 6 cups chicken broth
- one piece of Parmesan rind
- 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Ingredients for Cornbread Sticks:
- 1 package of your favorite yellow corn bread mix (I use Bob’s Red Mill) + ingredients called for on package directions)
- 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
Ingredients for Pistou:
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves smashed
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
- For Soup: Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat & add the anchovies. Use a wooden spoon to stir and cook until the anchovies break up and dissolve.
- Toss leeks and celery into the pan. Saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables soften and begin to brown. Add a pinch of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.
- Add zucchini and yellow squash, chicken broth and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Add beans to pan, stir and turn heat to lowest setting to keep hot while you make cornbread and pistou.
- For Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix cornbread mix according to package directions adding the cracked black pepper, Parmesan and thyme leaves to the batter. Spread batter into a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven to cool on a wire rack.
- For Pistou: Put basil leaves and garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse a few times. Drizzle in olive oil just until mixture is a pesto-like consistency. I like a less oily pistou. If you prefer more oil then continue adding until it is to your liking.
- To: Serve. Cut cornbread into “sticks”. Ladle soup into bowls and add a dollop of the pistou to stir into the soup. Serve remaining pistou on the side. Enjoy.
Teresa Blackburn www.teresablackburnfoodstying.com www.foodonfifth.com
Bleak, cold days call for hearty soups made with ease. This recipe, “Kabisuppe” which means cabbage & rice soup originating in Sweden & Norway)) is from my friend, Liz Shenk, owner, with her husband John Shenk, of “12 South Inn Suites” in the 12th South Neighborhood of Nashville. Liz also cooks up some wonderful dishes from the most simple beginnings. A Cabbage & an Onion are the two main ingredients in this soup. Basmati rice & a generous pinch of Caraway Seed finish it off. With just a bit of work and very little time you will have one heartwarming soup for a wintry evening.
“How easily happiness begins by dicing onions. A lump of sweet butter slithers and swirls across the floor of the saute pan, especially if its errant path crosses a tiny slick of olive oil. Then a tumble of onions” (Excerpted from the poem “Onions” by William Matthews.)
- 1/2 cup butter/1 stick
- 1 large onion, cut in large dice
- 1 medium head of Cabbage, cored & chopped
- 6 cups chicken broth
- Generous pinch of caraway seeds
- 1/2 cup Basmati rice
- Salt & Black pepper to taste
- Melt butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add in sliced onion and chopped cabbage. Cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent.
- Add the chicken broth & caraway seeds. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1 cup water if soup gets too thick.
- Add rice and cook another 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
- Taste & adjust seasonings.
Notes from Liz: Rice can be cooked separately and added to soup after it is cooked. This will keep the soup from getting too thick.
Eat well, stay warm. Be kind.
“Winter. Time to eat fat and watch hockey…..February, month of despair, with a skewered heart in the centre. I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries with a splash of vinegar.” (From: “February” a poem by Margaret Atwood)