Dutch Split Pea Soup

Dutch Split Pea Soup, Pea and Ham Soup or Erwtensoep as the Dutch call it is a real winter warmer.  I this soup in a big pot once or twice a year, perfect to warm hart and soul on those chilly winter days.

I usually make a 7 litre pot in one go and freeze some in batches to enjoy later. I use a whole smoked pork hock and big piece of smoked speck so the pot is quickly filled. In this recipe I will give you some tips for alternatives for those of you who like to make a smaller batch.

Erwtensoep is made from dried split peas that are soaked and boiled together with smoked pork hock, speck, onions, leeks and celeriac which gives it a distinctive flavour. Slices of rookworst, smoked sausage are added just before serving.

Erwtensoep is usually served with a dark rye bread and katenspek, a variety of bacon that is cooked and smoked. As some of the ingredients are harder to get outside of the Netherlands I will give some suggestions for alternatives.

As with many recipes Dutch Pea and Ham Soup has many varieties. Some grandma versions are cooked long enough to be able to slice the soup, something I am not a big fan off.

In cold Dutch winters when the lakes are frozen for longer periods of time, many iceskating tours are organised. Those tours could take hours or even up to a whole day to finish and participants need to be nourished. Erwtensoep is the dish to serve, together with hot chocolate and mulled wine standard in the top tree of so called “koek en zopie” outlets, little market stall like vendors selling hart warming food and drinks.

Who connected us?!  In the days that I grew up in The Netherlands every mum used one and the same Dutch Cooking Bible “het Margriet kookboek”, and it is still a popular cookbook for the most common Dutch recipes. I used this recipe, but with a few changes as not all original ingredients are widely available.


Makes: 7 litres | Preparation: 30 min | Cooking time: 2 hours



For 7 litres of “erwtensoep” with original ingredients

Traditional recipe ingredients:

  • Split peas, 1kg
  • 1 Hock ham
  • 1 Piece of smoked speck of about 400g
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 3 Cloves
  • 2 Large carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 Smoked sausage
  • 1 Small celeriac
  • 2 Leeks
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Some ingredients like celeriac and leeks might not be available or you might like to make a smaller quantity, if so the ingredients list below gives you an alternative for making about 2,5 litres.

Alternative ingredients:

  • Split peas, 300gdsc02373.jpg
  • 1,5 litres of water
  • 1 Pork Chop
  • Pork belly or thick cut bacon, 100g
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1 Bay leave
  • 1 Clove
  • 1 Small carrot
  • 1 Smoked sausage or frankfurter sausage
  • Salt & pepper to taste



  • Peel the onion and pinch the bay leaves with cloves to the onion.
  • Thoroughly wash the spilt peas. Put them in the pot, add the whole ham hock, piece of speck and onion and fill the pot with water to about 90%. Bring to the boil and let it cook slowly for 1 hour on low heat.
  • Peel the carrot and celeriac and cut into small cubes.
  • Cut the leeks lengthwise and wash thoroughly, cut into small half rings.
  • Add the vegetables and cook for another hour or until the split peas are completely dissolved into a thick soup.
  • Take out the onion with the bayleaves and cloves and discard.
  • Take out the ham hock and speck, debone the ham and cut the ham and speck into small pieces. Return the meat to the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Slice the smoked sausage and add to the soup before serving.
  • Traditionally the soup is served with dark rye bread and speck.



Alternative ingredients:  Availability of some ingredients may vary therefore I gave some alternatives. As long as you get the base of chickpeas, ham, some speck and carrots, the other ingredients are a bonus.

Thick or thin: Some people prefer there Erwtensoep very thick, like you can almost cut it with a knife. I prefer mine still a bit runny, soup should be eaten with a spoon. If you safe some soup in the fridge for a few days you might need to add some water when you reheat the soup.

Some for later: I alway make a big pot. First of all a small pot does not fit a whole ham hock and more importantly, I love this soup so much that I like to safe some for later. It’s an easy back-up meal in the freezer. You can easily freeze the soup, in one portion bags if you like.

Roggebrood: Dark Rye bread is available in most supermarkets nowadays. It might not be easy to find but ask around and you will get some. If you can also get some thinly sliced smoked speck it’s a bonus.




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