This is a recipe that no Dutch cookery book would be complete without. Pea soup is the national soup of the Netherlands. Throughout the winter, nearly every restaurant, bar or cafe has a sign advertising their own special pea soup, but take care - Dutch pea soup is a meal in itself, full of fresh winter vegetables and chunks of bacon and sausage. If the winter is particularly hard a few hardy souls will set up stalls on the frozen canals and inland lakes and sell bowls of hot pea soup to hungry skaters. As with many national recipes, every housewife has her own recipe - very often the soup is made the day before and then reheated the following day. This i proves the flavour. Any leftover soup can be diluted with chicken stock and eaten as a first course a day or two later.

  • 1 lb split peas
  • 2½ litres water
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 whole onion 
  • 2 pigs trotters or bacon hock
  • 1½ level teaspoons salt                              
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 level teaspoon dried thyme                         
  • 4 leeks
  • ½ celeric or 2 sticks celery                         
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • ½ lb smoked boiling sausage                          
  • 2 level tbs. chopped parsley
Rinse the peas and soak them overnight in the water (some brands are specially treated and do not need to be soaked - follow the manufacturer's instructions). Bring the peas to the boil in the water in which they have been soaked. Stick the cloves and bayleaf into the peeled onion and add it to the peas, together with the pigs trotters or bacon, salt, pepper and thyme. Cover the pan and simmer the soup for about 2 hours, until the peas are tender. Remove the onion, cloves and bayleaf and rub the soup through a sieve. Clean and slice the leeks and celeriac or celery, peel and chop the p   otatoes and add them to the soup together with the sausage. Bring the soup back to the boil and simmer for a further 45 minutes. Slice the sausage, remove the meat from the pigs trotters and return sausage and meat to the pan. Adjust the seasoning, sprinkle the soup with chopped parsley and serve with chunks of rye bread or pumpernickel