Classic Dutch pea soup (erwtensoep, snert)

As you might have noticed, despite being Dutch I cook Italian almost every day. There are some exceptions however, and one of them is pea soup. About once every winter I make this hearty and very filling soup from scratch. There are many variations of the recipe, but this is a very classic version. To obtain the authentic thick style, make the day before. The best part of the soup is of course the smoked pork sausage. Please make sure to buy the real thing if available, that makes all the difference.


For 6 generous servings (if you don’t need all at once: this soup is very suitable for keeping frozen!)

500 grams (1.1 lbs) dried split peas

200 grams (7 oz) carrot

200 grams (7 oz) onion

200 grams (7 oz) leek (white and light green part only)

200 grams (7 oz) potatoes

200 grams (7 oz) celeriac (celery root)

500 grams (1.1 lbs) pork ribs (or other pork with bones)

100 grams (4 oz) raw pork belly, preferably with rind (this is basically raw bacon)

250 grams (9 oz) smoked pork sausage (rookworst)

2-3 tbsp chopped celery leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Soak the pork meat (not the sausage!) in cold water to remove any blood.

Put the meat in a large pot and add 2 liters of cold water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to heat to simmering (not boiling).

Simmer for an hour, uncovered.

Wash split peas (soaking not needed). Add them to the pot. Increase the heat to a gentle boil.

Cook for around 90 minutes until the peas have fallen apart. Stir now and then to prevent the peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.

Meanwhile, clean and cut the vegetables. Use only the white and light green part of the leeks. Cut in half lengthwise and then cut in slices as shown.

Chop the onion(s). Cut potatoes, carrots and celeriac in cubes (brunoise).

Take the meat out of the pot when the peas are cooked. Put in a bowl to catch any soup that comes along with the meat.

Remove the bones, cartilage, pork rind and any other (fatty) parts that you don’t like to eat. Cut the meat into small pieces and put back into the pot.

Add vegetables to the pot and stir. Cook for another 30 minutes and keep stirring.

Meanwhile, remove celery stalks from the leaves…

…and chop celery.

Stir in the celery. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. The soup is now still very thin, to make it thick just let it cool off as described in the next steps.

Force-cool the soup by putting the pot into a sink filled with cold water and stirring. Replace the water if it becomes warm. Force-cooling is necessary to prevent the soup from turning sour, which can happen if the cooling process takes too long. Store overnight in the refrigerator (or outside if the weather is like a typical Dutch winter and outside is the same climate as your fridge — just make sure the lid cannot be opened by cats or dogs!).

I made this picture to show you just how thick the soup will be when it’s cold.

To serve, slice the smoked pork sausage and add the slices to the soup. Warm the whole pan gently while stirring constantly to prevent burning, or warm individual portions in the microwave (stir after each minute or so).

Traditionally, snert is served with dark rye bread and smoked bacon (katenspek) as shown.

17 thoughts on “Classic Dutch pea soup (erwtensoep, snert)

  1. I love pea soup. My friend from South Africa taught me to make it during college. I will have to prepare a variation of your recipe, as I make pea soup every Friday. The leeks definitely peak my interest. Delicious with the fresh herbs, Stefan. 🙂


  2. my first attempt at snert, one of the easiest recipes to follow, well laid out and the pictures helped enormously, very concerned at how grey my pok was after boiling, but once fully cooked it was awesome. all i need now is a heavy snowfall…

    Liked by 1 person

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