Dutch pea soup with mushroom ¨bacon¨ (erwtensoep)

Let´s face it, Dutch cuisine has never won many accolades. The meals are quite spartan, consisting of either vegetables boiled to an oblivion accompanied by meat or deep-fried pastry of some sort containing meat and/or cheese. Not exactly the stuff that would garner any Michelin stars.

That said, typical Dutch food can be quite comforting and warm that goes quite well with the typically rainy weather.  Most Dutch dishes are meat-based of course so I set about veganising them.

The first one I would like to tackle is erwtensoep (pronounced like AIR-TE-SOUP), which is the traditional Dutch pea soup. There are a million ways that people make it, with various combinations and proportions of veg and normally meat (sometimes 3 kinds in one pot!). But my plant-based version is just as flavourful and satisfying as the meat-based counterpart. In fact, I will let you in on a little secret: back in the day when my husband ate meat on a regular basis, he declared my pea soup to be better than his Mum´s. Shhhhhhh! 🙂

In addition, I wanted to add a little topping that would up the complex flavours a notch. This is where the mushroom ¨bacon¨ came in handy. This is the first time I tried this recipe and it was AMAZING! I modified it by lowering the oil level to 1 T and lowering the salt content as well (about 1/2 t). Next time, I will try spraying some oil on the shiitakes to lower the fat content even more. Here is what the pieces looked like:

Bacon mushrooms, anyone?

Now for the soup. Traditional Dutch erwtensoep is quite thick and to prove this fact, you can stick a spoon in there and it will stand upright:

a simple test to see whether your soup makes the cut 🙂

And here is the soup with the ¨bacon¨ topping – sooo good!

Erwtensoep with mushroom ¨bacon¨

…and now for my close-up

Something that is unique in Dutch cooking is the use of ¨selderij¨, which is celery greens. This is what it looks like in the packet:

Selderij

I reckon that if you do not have access to selderij as we do here, just use the tops of regular celery. Do not worry about the quantity: there is plenty of celery flavour from the celeriac, even if you do not have 40 grams of celery tops.

Dutch erwtensoep

By Monique Surette

500 g green split peas, rinsed and drained
1 large celeriac, chopped into 1 inch blocks
250 g carrots (which is about 3 medium sized ones), cubed
2 liters vegetable bouillon (I added 5t bouillon powder in 2l water)
2 leeks, washed and sliced into rings
40g bag of selderij or celery tops, washed and chopped

Add to a large pot the bouillon, split peas, celeriac and carrots. Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for 45 minutes. Then add the leeks and selderij (or celery tops). Simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Let the soup cool off for a bit before using the hand blender to puree the soup. If you find the soup too thick, feel free to thin it with more broth. Serve with the mushroom bacon.

Next week: my musings with Ezekiel bread and sprouted tortillas

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