The Netherlands is not known for being a gastronomy festival: anyone who knows a little about Dutch culture will know that eating is usually done with a sandwich -preferably cheese- and a glass of buttermilk (buttermilk). Well, maybe this is stereotyping too much, but I have seen with my own eyes more than one and two put a slice of cheese between two slices of bread and eat it so comfortably at lunchtime while I, astonished, I heated my homemade lentils in the microwave.
The traditional cuisine of the country of the tulips is simple, little varied and somewhat boring: food is considered as something functional, as something to nourish and provide energy to the body. It is also true that, although the Dutch themselves recognize the lack of national culinary joy, they love to eat well and their eyes make them chiribitas when they talk about Spanish gastronomy and how delicious paella, ham and gazpacho are.
Curiously, the origin of this frugality lies in a deep economic crisis that the country experienced in the 19th century, where much emphasis was placed on saving, something that also affected the way of cooking. Before this crisis, when the country was a European power thanks to the spice trade, the cuisine was rich and innovative. For example, The Wise Cook, (1669) (The wise cook) is a recipe book that includes roast goose with turmeric, quince candies or salads flavored with vinegars of different types, aromatic herbs or even flowers.
However, the case of Dutch pea soup (split pea soup) is different. It is believed that its origin dates back to the 16th-17th centuries, when the availability of peas was wide and winters were freezing. Thus, it has become one of the national dishes in the Netherlands. Although we call this dish soup, it is actually a kind of puree that is achieved thanks to the prolonged cooking of dried, split and skinless peas. In fact, a good pea soup is said to allow the spoon to stand upright.
Pea soup is made with other vegetables, such as carrots, celery root, onion, or potato, as well as pork, which can be salted bacon, rib, or pork tail. Once finished, it is served with smoked sausage (smoked sausage, which is eaten with this recipe and other typical dishes, such as stew or the Stew) and a few pieces of rye bread with smoked bacon on top. As with all traditional recipes, there is no “recipe” and each family has its own. If you dare to try this recipe, I recommend that you use a pressure cooker, since cooking in a traditional pot can take perfectly two hours to obtain the desired consistency.
I have made my own interpretation of this traditional recipe (without sausage, because I don’t like it). If you’re dutchie and you have become Spanish to the point of hating me for not making the traditional, catholic and apostolic recipe 100%, I ask you for forgiveness, mercy and that we solve the conflict with a beer and some bitterballen.
The one to wait for the peas to cook.
For 4 people
- 350 g of dried peas soaked the day before
- 250 g of pork chop cut into pieces
- 150 g of chopped Iberian bacon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 1.3 liters of vegetable, chicken or water broth
- 2 bay leaves
- Chopped parsley to taste
- Soak the peas the night before. Have them at least 12 hours.
- Peel the onion and carrots, and chop them into one centimeter by one centimeter cubes. Wash the celery stick well and chop it too. Peel the garlic cloves and mince them very small. Reserve.
- On the other hand, chop the Iberian bacon and reserve it too.
- In the pressure cooker, but not covered, heat the olive oil and sauté the bacon. When it starts to brown, add the rib and let it brown on the outside. With the help of a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and the ribs to a plate.
- In the same oil, sauté the onion for between eight and 10 minutes over low heat, with a pinch of salt and the bay leaf, until it is translucent. If there are remains of the bacon and the rib stuck to the bottom of the pot, add a little water to the onion when it is translucent and recover them, as this will give more flavor to the stew. Let the water evaporate and add the chopped garlic, celery and carrot and fry for another five minutes, with another pinch of salt, stirring from time to time.
- Add the bacon, the rib and the well drained dry peas. Stir and add the broth. Cover the pressure cooker and when the cooker reaches pressure and the steam begins to come out of the valve, count 40 minutes. Once the time has passed, turn off the heat, depressurize the pot carefully and open it. Taste and if there are any hard peas left, continue cooking until all have completely dissolved. Let the soup stand to thicken and serve with a little chopped parsley.
If you make this recipe, share the result on your social networks with the hashtag #RecetasComidista. And if it goes wrong, complain to the Chef’s Ombudsman by sending an email to [email protected]
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.