Dutch Pea Soup – Winter’s Ultimate Comfort Food

Posted by on Jan 17, 2016 in Recipes | 39 comments

dutch pea soupIf you’ve been thinking ‘Baby, it’s cold outside’, then it’s time for Dutch Pea Soup, winter’s ultimate comfort food. This rich thick soup is a complete meal in itself – the stick to your ribs type of soup that warms you from the inside out.

Back when I was growing up this soup was started with pork hocks and this hearty, fatty fare was actually necessary considering the conditions of those days. We slept in unheated bedrooms, school buses were not heated and since girls were not allowed to wear slacks to school it meant we froze while waiting for the bus and while on the bus. We covered our shoes with plastic overshoes which kept out the snow but failed to keep out the cold, etc. We needed those extra fats and calories to counteract all that.

Now with central heating, insulated long-johns, heavy duty socks and boots, heated transportation everywhere, and in general, a more sedentary lifestyle, we no longer need all that. As a matter of fact, those fats and calories will now do us more harm than good. Therefore I now start the soup with a lean meaty hambone. No matter though, it still tastes great.

Here’s my recipe for dutch pea soup, using simple, low-cost ingredients that turn into a filling soup, great to ward off winter’s chills.

Dutch Pea Soup:

  • 12 cups cold water
  • 2 cups (450g – 16oz) quick-cooking, dried, green split peas
  • 1 meaty hambone
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large (2 small) bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste, added at end of cooking.

Place the peas in a heavy pan, like a dutch oven. Add the hambone, cover with the 12 cups cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim any foam that forms. Put a lid on the pan and turn the heat down a notch or two so that the soup continues to simmer gently for 1-2 hours. This is a thick soup so it needs to be stirred occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom.

Remove the hambone, add the celery, carrots, potato, onion and bay leaf and continue to simmer for another hour or two. Cut the meat from the hambone into small pieces, add it to the soup and let simmer another 15 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

  • Dutch Pea soup tastes great the first night but even better the next day. That makes it a great soup to make on a weekend for serving on Monday evening.
  • This soup can also be made in a slow-cooker starting with the peas on the bottom, then layer each of the veggies on top, add the hambone, 3 cups of broth and 3 cups of water, the bay leaf and just let it simmer away for the day. Follow regular instructions for adding salt, pepper and the ham meat.
  • Dutch Pea Soup freezes well so any leftovers can be frozen in meal-size portions. Lovely to have on hand for those really crazy, hectic days.

We had a lot of soup at home – probably because it was a low-cost way of feeding a large family. Whatever the reason, we always enjoyed our soup with this Dutch Pea Soup being a winter favourite. Hope you enjoy.

Talk to you again next week,


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  1. I love pea soup, Lenie. Thx for this delicious recipe. I shall try and make it soon.

  2. I miss the comfort foods I had in New Orleans – red beans and rice, dirty rice, chicken jambalaya – good stuff.

    I’m also a big fan of thick soups and stews. When growing up my mother made a hamburger stew from time to time, although I have to say, Lenie, that your Dutch pea soup looks like heartier fare. Chili is my favorite in this regard. Have you ever written a post on chili?

    • Hi Andy – I love all those foods you mentioned and I also make a really good hamburger stew – loads of meat and onions, yum. When all our boys were still living at home they could bring as may friends with them as they liked. This meant foods had to be flexible so you could easily add more to whatever you were serving. My husband used to make up huge pots of chili, baked beans and homemade bread. Sometimes it was fun just to sit around the kitchen table chatting with the guys outside of mealtime and have a bowl of whatever. Aw, you brought back some good memories. Thanks for that.
      I’ll have to think about that post.

  3. I’ve never had dutch pea soup. I could definitely use some right now to help warm me up right now.

    • Jason, if you’re living in the ‘storm of the century’ area, you will really appreciate this soup. It totally warms you from the inside out.

  4. Leni — I love pea soup, too. I felt chilled when I read about your early childhood. Amazing you didn’t freeze without heat and having to wear skirts instead of pants. I remember those days when girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school.

    • Jeannette, having no heat in the bedrooms wasn’t a big deal really – you just adapt to that – extra blankets, etc. Freezing my legs though was something else and it wasn’t just me. My mom got frostbite in her legs hanging up clothes on the line – that carried on no matter the weather. Monday was laundry day, so unless it was pouring rain, the clothes were hung up outside. (I can’t remember what she did when it rained). Some things have definitely changed for the better.

  5. I don’t do ham, but I have some carnivores in my life who are going to LOVE this recipe. Off to share it on Facebook so they can scoop it up.

    I SO remember the days of no pants to school. I think that’s when I started rebelling!

    • Good morning Rose – thanks for sharing. Remembering those days of ‘no pants’ to school and what you see today – makes you sort of wonder who’s right. Never did like the freezing my legs part but have a hard time with the ‘let’s expose everything’ part going on now. But that’s probably just me showing my age. 🙂

      • Lenie, is it our age or are…internal grace that finds us shocked at some of the attire worn in public? I am a clothing snob–and I don’t know a designer from Kmart brands, am most comfortable in worn Levis and a cotton shirt. But yikes! Traveling in Europe you see young people dressed nicely–again, not designer stuff everyone, but looking nice. Then I come home and think: Wow, really. Yikes again. But that’s a whole other blog!

        So yeah, let’s go with the Grace thing. HA!

        • Rose, I agree – grace and dignity. My fondest wish is to have Kate Middleton’s wardrobe……..well, dreams are good.

  6. Sign me up! I’m definitely going to pin this. I have quite the fondness for soup. Maybe I’ve mentioned that here or possibly on Susan’s blog. Soup is indeed a great comfort food.

    • Jeri, we have soup everyday for lunch – one of the main reasons is that I’m basically lazy. I make up soup twice a week and have a hassle-free lunch the rest of the time. Works for me LOL

  7. My mom used to make something similar when I live on the other side of Lake Ontario too.
    I miss that home style soup, I might try this sometime.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • William, with the storm of the century heading your way, you may want to whip up a batch and sit it out comfortably. Hope the storm doesn’t create to many problems for you.

  8. Hi Lenie, boy there is nothing better than a hot mug of soup on a cold winters night. And this hearty pea soup is sure to hit the spot! Sounds delicious. May have to whip up a batch. 🙂

    • Good morning Susan – do you have cold winter nights in California? Not that it matters because this soup also hits the spot on any gloomy day.

      • It depend where you live in CA. In Northern CA yes.

        I forgot to mention I had created a post about my own pea soup in the fall that is scheduled to go live next week – I think it’s a hoot how we are in sync with out sometimes ?

        • I fixed my mistake/misspelled name. My Avatar should show up now – that my reply comment above – ?

  9. This if the first time all winter that it has been really cold on the east coast of the U.S. So your post couldn’t be more timely. Wish I had some now.

    • Ken, we haven’t had any snow or cold until the last couple of weeks but now it’s making up for it . lots of snow with a cold icy wind. That’s what prompted this post actually because I only make this pea soup when it’s really cold. Like Susan says, go whip up a batch.

  10. Hi, Lenie

    Soup is one of the dishes in every meal in our culture. The soups are usually watery vegetable soup. I learn to make pea soups since I live in USA. Your recipe looked tasty, I will make it this week.

    I am now in the late stage of fasting(vegetables and salad stage)so that pea soup is the important item to provide protein for my body.


    – Stella Chiu

    • Stella, if you live in a cold region you are really going to appreciate this soup once you’re finished fasting. I really appreciate your comments and always look forward to them. Take care 🙂

  11. This soup does look delicious Lenie. However, I would leave out the ham bone simply because I do not eat pork.

    As a child, teenager I was not over keen on soup. I rarely saw it as a complete meal, especially tinned soup.

    Nowadays, I drink soup everyday at work for lunch. It is perfect for the winter months.

    Keep those recipes coming!

    • Hi Phoenicia, I’ve never cared for the tinned soup but as for the homemade – I make two large pots of soup a week which my husband and I have for lunch every day. I don’t particularly like cooking so if I can make life easier by making large batches and cooking less, I go for it. And your right – in the winter nothing warms you better than a hearty bowl of soup.

  12. Oh my gosh, I still haven’t gotten past the fact that you didn’t have heat growing up. Seriously, I live in Los Angeles where we have the most mild winter ever and I couldn’t survive without my heater.

    Having said that, while I’ve never had pea soup, I love making bean soups. In fact, I have all the ingredients to make lentil soup tonight. You are so right that it is a super economical way to feed a family.

    Your recipe seems yummy. Will put it on my list to make it in the near future.

    • Erica, the no-heat in the bedroom really wasn’t that big a deal – I think we just adapted to it. Once we got to highschool we always did our homework in our bedrooms. The worst part of the cold was not being able to wear slacks to school and freezing our legs in the winter. I used to wear a lot of pleated skirts in the winter cause that way I could hunker down and have the skirt cover my legs while I was waiting for the bus. Funny that, haven’t thought of that in years.

      You know you could easily use lentils instead of split peas – both ways are good and so filling.

  13. Your recipe sounds wonderful Lenie! I love split pea soup and I do make it in my slow cooker. My mother used to make it with ham hocks, but then she was from the south and I grew up on things like that along with cornbread, fried okra and black eyed peas. No wonder I was such a chunko in those days!

    • Marquita, our eating habits have changed, like the ham hocks, but then life has changed. I don’t know about you but we always had loads of chores to do and of course now, it’s a much more sedentary lifestyle. What we needed back then would harm us today. I’ve never had fried okra and the closest I’ve come to black eyes peas is in books. However I do love cornbread – it goes perfect with any kind of soup. If you were a chunko, I’ll bet you were a cute one LOL

  14. Lenie, this gives me memories. We didn’t eat much soup coming from an Italian family. To this day, it’s not a staple for us even in the cold winters. When I was growing up in NY, it would either be minestrone or Italian wedding soup. We also ate a heck of a lot of pasta! Cooked every which way.

    And cookies – my mom would always make Italian cookies. Almond cookies, anise cookies, Easter honey drenched cookies, on and ON. Every season seemed to have different tasty tidbits.

    We did wear snow pants when I was growing up. And somehow, we could either take the bus to school or we could walk.

    • Patricia, one of my daughter- in-law is Italian and she was a model for a short time but gave that up because she didn’t like the food restrictions. In here own words “I’m Italian, I love to eat”. So I know all about your Italian foods – they are yummy.

      You are such a young thing that of course snow pants were invented by then – I could tell you about some of the other things we wore in those days but since this is a family oriented post, I won’t. 🙂

  15. I like soup and make quite a few myself. I am on the Pacific coast of Panama right now for the next few weeks and the last thing I need is a warming soup (a cooling one maybe), but I will try this soup when I get back to Manitoba. It looks good and easy enough to make.

    • Hi Donna, you may want to extend your stay in Panama for awhile. We watched the news last night and at 6pm it was -21C in Winnipeg – that is going to a tremendous shocker to come home to. As a matter of fact, you may need the soup just to get over the shock. Have a great time while you’re in the heat and enjoy every minute.

  16. Your Dutch Pea Soup sounds nice, Lenie. A good choice when it’s snow outside.

    • Catarina, this soup was wonderful to come home to, especially on those really cold days. We’re having a blizzard here right now and still have lots of the soup left – very timely.

  17. I love soup recipes. It’s wonderful in the winter. I love soups that I can make then freeze for another time. This will be added to my list on Pinterest. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sabrina, thanks for adding the recipe to Pinterest. This soup really is nice to make ahead or freeze – nicely prepares you for those super-busy or super-cold days.

  18. That soup really sounds good and I’m going to try it. Thanks for the recipe. When I first was in school, we lived in Duluth, Minnesota. That was cold! I too wore dresses but my mom made me wear snow pants under them on the way to school. I hated that. Preferred being cold!

    • Beth, just goes to show that I’m older than you – when I was going to school snow pants weren’t even invented. We wore those little bobby-sox and saddle shoes. But we survived and now fully appreciated today’s conveniences. But I can imagine with peer pressure being what it is and was, that wearing snow pants when others didn’t, would have been in the word of my teenage grand-daughter ‘mortifying’.LOL