As a child I can remember all the different places we lived and my most memorable was the few years we spent in Holland or the Netherlands. We first place we lived in was called Laren, which is in Northern Holland. It was a cobble stone village surrounding the small lake in the town centre but what I remember the most was the warm hospitality that our Dutch friends showed us and their love of Dutch Pea Soup or Erwtensoep ..... and many other foods like speculaas, pepermoten... spice biscuits made from cinnamon, pepper, cloves and nutmeg ; oliebolien, appelflappen .... very similar to donuts with currants or apple and sprinkled with icing sugar; stroopwafel ...thin waffles with carmel and of course CHEESE! I could go about my love for Dutch food but I'll leave that for later.
I don't now why I love Erwtensoep or Dutch Pea Soup (sometimes called Snert too!) but I guess it has to do with it being a big source of comfort food especially when my mother makes it. She was taught by one of her good Dutch friends to make this soup and she always makes a big pot of it during the winter. It may seem like a long time to slowly simmer those green split peas over the stove but the finish dish is a wonderfully thick hearty soup. It's more like a meal than a soup, thick like a stew and flavoured with leeks, celery, carrots, pieces of smoked ham and rookworst (a smoked pork sausage).
Dutch Pea Soup
4 - 5 pcs of osso bucco/oxtail ( I used 1 lamb shank about 350 g)
2 cups dried split green peas, washed and rinsed ( my mother uses 1/2 green and 1/2 yellow dried split peas)
2 leeks, sliced thinly
2-3 carrots, diced
3 celery sticks, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium onions, diced
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
1 rookworst sausage ( I used 2 smoked garlic beef sausages)
3 L of water
1. For this recipe I replaced the osso bucco with 1 piece of lamb shank about 350 g and using a saucepan, heated some oil and browned the lamb. Remove the lamb from the heat and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, pour the water or depending on the size of the saucepan about 3/4 full of water. Add the osso bucco (lamb shank), green split peas, garlic and onion. Bring it to the boil, simmer with the cover on for about 45 mins or until the meat comes off the bone.
3. Take the meat out of the saucepan and using a fork remove the meat and discard the bones. Add back the meat and all the other ingredients except for the rookworst sausage to the saucepan and continue simmering until the vegetables are soft and tender about another 15 - 20 mins.
4. Add the sausage about in the last 5 - 10 mins. Serve with wholemeal bread or traditionally rye bread.