Snert or 'erwtensoep' is one of the few traditional Dutch meals. The Dutch unfortunately aren't known for their great cuisine. This is probably partly due to the lack of tasty things that grow here.
Some of the traditional meals I really enjoy are 'raw' herring, kibbeling (a bit like fish and chips, but smaller) and stamppot. Stamppot is a category on its own, which usually consists of a vegetable mashed with potatoes and meat. A few examples are: boerenkool (curly kale mash), zuurkool (sauerkraut - my personal favourite) and hutspot (a mash of carrots, onion and potatoes). There's a great story behind the hutspot, but that's for another post.
Snert or erwtensoep is another one of my favourites. It's traditionally served on a very wintery day when all the rivers have frozen over. There's nothing that beats a full bowl of snert after you've been ice skating outside in the cold sun with your family and friends!
Unfortunately due to the current climate the weather conditions are rarely good enough to go ice skating, so I now make snert even when it's 10C outside...
The following recipe is a mix of a recipe from an old cookbook that my mum uses, other recipes on the internet and my own tweaks.
Makes roughly 6 portions.
- 400g Split peas
- 350g-400g Ham hock
- 200g Baby back pork ribs
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 Onion, diced
- 1 Large carrot, diced
- 1/2 Celeriac, diced
- 2 Medium sized floury potatoes, diced
- 1 Leak, in rings
- Clove powder
- Vegetable stock powder for 1L of stock
- Celery leaves, chopped small
- Parsley, chopped small
- Smoked sausage
Warning: not for kids!
A quick word of caution: do not feed this soup to (small) children. It can contain small bits of bone which can be dangerous to children.
Rinse the peas well and remove any stones. Add them to the bottom of the slowcooker.
Add the ham hock and the baby back pork ribs to the slowcooker and season them with pepper, salt, thyme and the bay leaves.
Note that my ham hock is nearly twice as large as I would normally get, so the slowcooker is already quite full. The butcher had to get it from the freezer and chop the frozen ham hock in two, but it was still too big. That's what you get for doing grocery shopping on Friday evenings.
Dice the onion, carrot, potatoes and half of a celeriac and add them to the slowcooker. Fortunately I had half a celeriac in the freezer left over from a beef stew.
Cut the leak in rings and add them to the slowcooker as well. This is usually the point where I add a couple of pinches of clove powder and the vegetable stock powder but they can also be added together with the parsley and celery leaves, or when seasoning the meat.
Chop the parsley and celery leaves and add them to the slowcooker. My slowcooker is now practically overflowing, hopefully yours will be a bit less full. Remember I had quite a bit more meat than usual. Of course it also depends on the volume of the slowcooker. Ours is a 3.5L model if I'm not mistaken.
Finally add boiling water until the contents are not quite completely submerged. I now set our slowcooker on high for about half an hour to an hour and then turn it to low.
Unfortunately our slowcooker is a newer model and runs too hot. This means we have to frequently stir the contents once it's boiling to prevent them from burning to the bottom of the pot.
After about 8 hours total the snert should be done, you can turn the slowcooker to 'keep warm' mode now.
Before serving the snert you will have to fish out all the meat from the pan. This can be a bit tricky because it should all come apart really easily. Be careful to remove all the bones and remove the fat. Also remove the bay leaves if you can find them.
Before adding the meat back to the pot use a potato masher to mash the soup into a proper soup. Note that it doesn't have to be completely smooth. It's supposed to be a hearty soup.
Break up all the meat and add it back to the pot. Give it a final stir to really incorporate the meat into the soup.
Heat up the smoked sausage according to the instructions on the packaging before you serve the soup (usually: heat the sausage 20 minutes in its inner plastic wrapper in a pan of just boiled - not boiling - water). Cut the sausage into slices and add them straight to your serving.
This time I decided to pre-soak the peas the night before. This means the peas are a lot more voluminous than usual, making the pot more full. The soup turned out a bit more watery than usual, so I would recommend adding less water if you pre-soak the peas. Traditionally the soup should be thick enough that a spoon should be able to stand upright in it. I will definitely soak the peas again next time I make the soup. For some reason I have a hard time digesting legumes and soaking the peas meant that I had zero issues afterwards which makes it a big win for me.
About the meat: I tried my best to find the right translation for the meat. However the Dutch cut their meat differently from the British, so it was a bit of a challenge to find the right equivalent. The ham hock is the same cut as in Dutch. Sometimes we use a 'kneecap' instead, but I prefer to use the ham hock. The baby back pork ribs I'm not entirely sure of. We call them 'vleeskrabben' and they are a type of rib, I'm just not entirely sure which type. By comparing photos on the internet to what I bought, I landed on baby back pork ribs.
Traditionally snert isn't cooked in a slowcooker, however I find it a lot easier than putting a pan on a stove for a couple of hours.
Six portions is obviously way too much for just the two of us, but you can easily freeze the leftovers (without the sausage) and reheat them in pan at a later time. Note that it's quite hard to reheat the soup straight from frozen, so it is recommended that you defrost the soup in the fridge 24 hours prior to reheating it. It also tends to thicken a bit more in the freezer so add a tiny bit of water to make it slightly more fluid if necessary. Don't forget to add a 'fresh' smoked sausage to your leftovers!