The Netherlands, Amsterdam – Pea Soup

The Netherlands, Amsterdam – Pea Soup

Pea Soup just doesn’t do Amsterdam justice.  I mean, Amsterdam is the center of two of the world’s evils according to my good Southern Baptist upbringing – sex and drugs.  And look at me… I offer up pea soup as my trophy of Amsterdam.  Let me explain.  1) It’s absolutely delicious.  2) Amsterdam is much chillier than I expected, so this is a perfectly suited dish 3) I’m not quite ready to tempt the Baptist church or Momma Kay by offering you a recipe for pot brownies.  (and I really have no idea how to make such a thing)

It began on a  boat in an Amsterdam canal

amsterdam netherlands rooftop canal boat ride

Well, truthfully, it started about 4 months in advance of the boat ride, but man, I felt the love on that boat ride like it was shooting through every cell in my being.  Like my blood was darting around as if it just won the lottery.  You’ve been there!

Let me introduce you to M.  We’re going to run into him again later.  Danish by birth, Swedish by residence, Nordic in looks and absolutely, positively enraptured with me.  This was the first big relationship post the gut wrenching heart break that was B.  This was a international rebound with all of the promise and none of the possibility of a real relationship.   Reality aside, I spent just under a week in Amsterdam in an absolute state of bliss.  From champagne on our rooftop deck to enough Laphroaig to permanently injure my liver – Amsterdam is ingrained in my soul.

Why pea soup

Lets be honest, the Dutch aren’t known for their inventive cuisine.  Don’t get me wrong, I had amazing food while I was there. Other countries invented every dish.  Pea Soup is about the only thing that I’ve found that seems both tasty and a traditional Dutch offering.  When made traditionally, you should be able to stand a spoon up in the soup.  My first attempt succeeded at this.  The picture above is actually my second attempt.  I couldn’t stand a spoon up in it, but I think it tastes a bit better.

An Austin Pea Soup Experience

This was one of the feature dishes of Easter.  Pea Soup had a bit more sentimental inclusion than I fully shared at the time.  In short, M let me know a bit before that he was moving to the US – and specifically to Austin. I thought our adventure ended in Amsterdam, but it was about to enter a new chapter right in the heart of Texas.

Inspirational recipe and resources

Coquinaria makes a great, traditional pea soup.  I made some edits based on preference and to make things a tiny bit healthier, but I kept much of the traditional flair.

Tweaks and cautionary tales

I made a few changes to this one based on my personal preferences (recipe includes changes)

  • I ditched the bacon on my second attempt.  The sausage + pork hock is  plenty of meat
  • I added an extra leek because I love them so.
  • Remember to try to cut things in similar sizes so that they cook evenly.

How to make pea soup healthier

Killing the bacon is a good first step.  You might also consider making this vegetarian.


  • Learning Curve: none
  • Pre-work: none, although you should make this the day before you intend to eat it
  • Vegetarian: no
  • Healthy: Yes
  • Freezes well:  yes

The Netherlands, Amsterdam - Pea Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a very hearty soup, sure to keep you warm on a chilly night.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Dutch
Serves: 6
  • 2½ cup dry split peas
  • 1 piece of pork hock (if you use a bit with extra meat on it, you can remove the sausage and / or bacon)
  • 3 strips thick bacon (optional)
  • 1 medium sausage (optional)
  • 2 large onions, medium chop
  • 1 large carrot, medium chop
  • 2 leeks, medium chop
  • 1 medium celery root
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 bunch celery
  • pepper and salt to taste
  • 8 cups water
  • rye bread
  1. Rinse the split peas (no overnight soak required). In a large stock pot, bring water to the boil with the peas, pork hock and bacon. Let it boil and skim off the floating scum. Pour all water off, rinse peas (and meat) again and put them back into the pot, covering in about three inches of water (you may decide to add more later)
  2. Peel the celery root, carrots, and potatoes, then cut into a medium sized dice. Similarly dice the onions. Cut and thoroughly wash the leeks. Add the vegetables to the pan and let simmer until the peas are done (1½ - 2 hours, until the peas split).
  3. Take the meat out of the pan, remove rind and bones, and cut in small pieces. Return the meat to the pan. Wash the sprigs of celery, and chop or cut the leaves. Twenty minutes before the end of cooking, add the whole smoked sausage and the celery. Taste, finish off with pepper and salt.
  4. The pea soup is still fairly liquid. Let it cool completely and reheat it the next day, or freeze in portions.
  5. Serve with rye bread






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