Someone in our Dutch sous vide group on Facebook asked if anyone had ever tried to make erwtensoep (Dutch pea soup) sous vide. I had not, and my first thought was that it didn’t make any sense, because the peas are supposed to be cooked until they fall apart. But then I thought there could be merit in cooking the pork sous vide. Now I don’t believe that sous vide is the answer to everything, but I also believe that you should always try before passing the verdict. And so I went ahead and prepared sous vide erwtensoep, or more precisely erwtensoep with sous vide pork. For the classic preparation without sous vide, click here. In that post I used pork belly, but it is even more traditional with ham hock (pork shank).
For 4 servings as a main course
450 grams (1 lb) ham hock (pork shank)
450 grams (1 lb) pork ribs
cooked pork meat and stock, from above
250 grams (1 cup) dried split peas
100 grams (1 cup) diced carrot
100 grams (1 cup) chopped onion
100 grams (1 cup) sliced leek (white and light green part only)
100 grams (1 cup) diced potatoes
100 grams (1 cup) diced celeriac (celery root)
250 grams (9 oz) smoked pork sausage (rookworst), sliced
2-3 Tbsp chopped celery leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dark rye bread
katenspek (boiled and smoked bacon)
Season the ham hock and pork ribs with salt and vacuum seal.
When the pork ribs are separate pieces as in my case, make sure they do not touch each other.
Heat a pot of water to at least 77C/170F (boiling also works). Dip the vacuum sealed meat in the hot water for 10-20 seconds…
…or until the raw color has disappeared. This step is required to prevent a bad smell that may otherwise develop when cooking the pork for a long time below 60C/140F.
Cook the ham hock sous vide for 3 days (72 hours or so) at 57C/135F.
Cook the pork ribs sous vide for 1 day (24 hours or so) at 57C/135F.
I wrote “or so”, because the exact timing is not important. Take out the pork ribs after the first day and chill them in cold water before refrigerating them. Reheat them for half an hour to come out of the sous vide together with the ham hock (reheating is only needed to liquify the juices in the bag).
Take the meat out of the bags, and pour the juices from the bag into a stock pot or pressure cooker.
Separate into nice meat (on the right-hand side on the photo), and skin, bones, and other bits (on the left-hand side on the photo).
Put the skin, bones, and other bits in the stock pot or pressure cooker with the sous vide juices.
Add 1 litre (1 quart) of cold water.
Bring to pressure over high heat, reduce the heat, and pressure cook for 1.5 hours, or cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3 hours.
In the meantime, dice the nice meat, and refrigerate it.
When the stock is done…
…sieve it, and discard the solids.
Wash the peas and put them in a large pot together with the stock. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow to boil gently for 90 minutes, stirring regularly.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the carrot, onion, leeks, potatoes, and celeriac, and continue to boil for another 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
Check whether the vegetables are tender and the peas have fallen apart.
Add the sliced smoked pork sausage and the meat. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Allow the meat and sausage to warm through for 5 minutes.
Since the whole point of cooking the meat sous vide is to keep it moist, the meat is only warmed through and not boiled in the soup.
Add the chopped celery leaves.
Stir to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The soup is now ready to be served, although it will be a bit thin. If you want it to become more thick, chill the soup first, then vacuum seal it (when chilled it will be solid and easy to vacuum seal), and then reheat sous vide at 57C/135F for half an hour or so (depending on the thickness of the pack; half an hour is sufficient if it is about 2 centimeters / 3/4″ thick).
Serve with dark rye bread and katenspek.
The verdict? Classically prepared erwtensoup has uninteresting bits of dried out tasteless pork in it. The pork has given up all of its flavor into the stock and it is only included for the nutritional value of the protein. The sous vide meat is much more succulent and flavorful. The amount of meat is not that great, and there is also a lot of smoked pork sausage, so in the grand scheme of the soup as a whole I am not sure if it is worth the extra effort and time. However, if you were to increase the amount of pork and perhaps even use it to replace the smoked pork sausage (by smoking the ham hock instead, before cooking it sous vide as shown in this post), it could certainly be worth it. This could certainly be a solution if smoked pork sausage is not available in your area. The smoky juices from cooking the ham hock sous vide would give the whole soup a wonderful smoky character.
Homemade gelato is great and so much better than store-bought. Like this almond gelato.