recept: erwtensoep (Dutch pea soup)

It can stick and burn easily. This makes the soup yucky. Heat it gently and stir it often.

The longer you cook it, the more delicious it is.

Make a lot, it won’t go to waste. The soup freezes well.

Like a curry, this soup is much better the next day. It should be refrigerated as it goes off easily if left out. When cold, you should be able to cut it with a knife.

The for stages of erwtensoep's life
Clockwise from top: ready to eat, cut it with a knife, the spoon standing up in the pot, ingredients starting to simmer


1 celeriac, diced
4 carrots
4 large potatoes
1/2 bunch celery (see Method)
2 handfuls chopped celery leaves
1 handful chopped parsley
4 leeks, halved lengthwise, washed, roughly chopped (inc. green bits)
1kg split peas
6L water

1 ham hock (800g)
6 pork ribs (“fat removed”)
smoked bacon bones

You want about 1.5 – 2kg of meat, including bones.

2 rookworst (accompaniment)

A massive stockpot
A stab mixer or potato masher

Peel and dice potatoes, celeriac, and carrots. Dice stick of celery, or half a bunch if you couldn’t get a celeriac. Halve the leeks lengthwise, wash them and chop roughly, including the green bits. Dice any loose meat but leave any meat that is on the bone. Chop up the celery leaves, you will need about 2 cups.

Wash the peas 3 times, after picking out any that are a funny colour, or are stones.

Disputed: soak the peas for 12 hours in 6L of water. Afterwards, quickly bring them to the boil, skim off the scum, and then discard the water. I don’t bother doing this, the packet doesn’t even say to do it.

Rookworst, pork ribs, ham hock, bacon bones
Rookworst, pork ribs, ham hock, bacon bones


All the veges for erwtensoep
All the veges for erwtensoep

In a large pot, add celeriac, carrots, potatoes, leeks, peas, and all meat except the rookworst. Cover with 3 litres of water. You can add some stock powder or cubes if you wish, but don’t tell me about it if you want my respect. Bring to the boil, then put the heat on low. Leave it to simmer, covered.

After an hour, give the soup a stir and check that it isn’t sticking to the bottom. Add water if it looks like it needs it. Cover and repeat every half an hour or so.

After 2.5 hours of simmering, check the meat. If it comes easily away from the bone, take it from the pot. Remove and chop the meat. You can discard the bones or chuck them back in for that little extra flavour. If the meat was not ready, test it again later.

After 3 hours the soup should be ready. If you like, you can give it a bit of a mash with a potato masher, or use a stab mixer if you desire a more even consistency. I like the chunks to degrade naturally by being ‘boiled to bits’.

Finally, get a spoon and stand it in the centre of the pot. If it stays upright, the soup is ready. If not, wait until this *very important* test can be passed.

Once the spoon stands up, thinly slice the rookworst and add it to the pot. Let it simmer until the rookworst is hot and some of its delicious juices have started to come out. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the chopped celery leaves and parsley.

I’ve covered this in a separate post, but I have been unable to get proper gelderse rookworst, or indeed anything that a Dutch person would identify as rookworst, in Sydney. The closest substitute is the DOM “rookwurst” (sic), although I am almost tempted to use hot dogs. HANS used to make something that they called “Kookwurst”, which was like a cross between rookworst and a hot dog, and that was the closest I have seen here. I have seen recipes which call for kielbasa, a Polish smoked sausage, so that might be worth a try. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any clues.

Traditionally it is served with a kind of rye bread that is similar to pumpernickel (roggebrood) and a thinly sliced black smoked ham/bacon called katenspek. Sometimes mustard is spread on the rye bread.


Cook in a crockpot
Mung dhal instead of split peas
pork belly
spek – I saw something called speck in the supermarket, was smoked, looked a bit like pork belly, might be worth a go.
I’ve heard of some people adding a fennel bulb. You can try it, I won’t.
Some people will add 5 or 6 bay leaves and a teaspoon of thyme. Give that a go, if you want.
One of my Dutch recipes calls for a pig’s ear and a trotter. I substituted the hock for the trotter.
Adding onions as a supplement to the leeks.

In Australia, the meat and the celeriac are the most expensive ingredients. Bacon and pork chops could be substituted, and celery substituted for celeriac. The soup won’t be as good.

Called Primo Hans – the Kookwurst has been deleted by Woolies so there is no point in manufacturing it anymore. The product no longer exists 🙁

1 comment

  1. Sounds good. If you ever do find rookworst please let me know. I’ll do the same!

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