A lot of people may struggle to think of a typical dish from the Netherlands, even if they have travelled there. At first, I thought about Dutch pancakes. Then I recalled a time when I visited family friends in Bergen-op-Zoom. As I side note, I recommend to visit this small town and nearby impressive Delta Works. To continue the story, the father, George, asked me if I wanted to try any special foods during my visit. So, I asked if it was possible to have split pea soup. What I did not realise at the time was that it is not easy to find all of the ingredients in the springtime! After my request, he went all over town to gather the ingredients to make me a delicious and memorable soup. This recipe may not be completely traditional, but it is a simple recipe for split pea soup that reminds me of my visits to the Netherlands.
The pork is a smoked Polish pork, which is easy to find in London. The traditional version had celeriac, and I used celery instead. Also I recall the split peas in the Netherlands were usually green but I could only find yellow so I substituted. In the end, the soup definitely recalled the flavours I remember, though of course nothing could taste as good as the special original soup I had cooked for me.
400g smoked ham, cut into small cubes
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 pound dried split yellow or yellow peas
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and fry onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, around 5-8 minutes.
Add the ham, carrots, celery, split peas, potatoes, chicken stock, smoked paprika, oregano and bay leaves.
Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat uncovered (occasionally skimming off any foam that forms ) for 1.5 hours or until the peas are very soft. Stir occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot with bread on the side.
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