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Swedish Yellow Pea Soup

Johanna Kindvall on the Swedish tradition of eating Yellow Pea Soup every Thursday.
By Johanna Kindvall

In Sweden you eat yellow pea soup with thin pancakes every Thursday, or at least its popular to do so. The tradition has its roots in the middle-ages, where it was in preparation for Friday which was a day of fasting at that time. Nowadays its common to serve the soup with warm Punch, a sweet arrack flavored spirit. It’s one of those odd combinations that actually works.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Swedish Yellow Pea Soup (Ärtsoppa)
 
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Cook Time
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In Sweden there is a tradition to eat Pea Soup every Thursday.
Author:
Recipe Type: Soup, Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (500 ml) dried whole yellow peas*
  • one onion
  • one carrot (optional)
  • plenty of thyme or marjoram
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ lb (250 gram) salted pork **
Instructions
  1. To make the soup, soak yellow peas for about 12 hours.
  2. After soaking, cook the peas in about 5 ½-6 cups (1.3-1.5 liter) water together with a whole piece of salted pork (or if you prefer, cut into smaller pieces), onion, bay leaves and plenty of thyme (or marjoram which has a richer flavor).
  3. I don’t mind adding a carrot into the soup, it's not essential but it gives the soup a sweet touch that I like, add it later so it doesn't get too soft.
  4. The peas will need about an hour to be ready, sometimes even longer. Just before the peas are done (almost mushy), take out the meat and slice it. The meat can be served on the side or in the soup.
  5. If necessary season with salt.
Notes
* in case you can't find whole yellow peas, yellow split peas may be used, just skip the soaking and follow the rest. ** bacon or similar may be used if its impossible to find salted pork.

Serve the pea soup with mustard and buttered crisp-bread (knäckebröd). If possible, I warmly recommend you try some warm Punch to go with it. Cheers!

I often skip the thin pancakes but for most Swedes this is the grand finale of this meal! They should be super thin and served with freshly whipped cream and fresh berries.

Johanna Kindvall

Johanna Kindvall

Johanna Kindvall is freelance designer who works with illustrations, graphics and architecture. She loves to cook, eat and draw; a combination she have been sharing on her cooking blog, Kokblog since 2005. Her recipes are more about what you can do, less about how you make them. Johanna is a Swede based in New York City. During the summer she works from her little cottage in the very south of Sweden just an hour from the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

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Originally Published: December 8, 2011

9 Responses to Swedish Yellow Pea Soup

  1. Ruby Rasa

    Ruby Moukli Reply

    December 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    It sounds like you Swedes have a Mardi Gras every week then. Except it’d be Jeudi Gras I guess. How fun! Is it fresh berries year-round or are there seasonal variations? Love your illustrations.

    • Johanna Kindvall

      Johanna Kindvall Reply

      December 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      :) Thanks! I think most Swedes probably eat the pancakes with just jam. The fresh berries are more popular during summer time, when they are in season.

  2. Amie Reply

    February 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I made this for our cold Nebraska winter day. It was very good. I am of Swedish desent and found your site looking for this soup. My Swedish grandma is gone, but I remember her wonderful meals, breads, cookies, abelscivers and of course pancakes. Oh and her stuffed cabage rolls. Yum! Thank you for sharing a great simple dish. My family loved it. I will make again,and try others from here. Thanks.

    • Johanna Kindvall

      Johanna Kindvall Reply

      February 10, 2012 at 8:20 am

      Thanks for sharing Amie!
      I’m happy to hear you liked my Peasoup! BTW I love abelskiver too! I have to make that one day…

  3. Fred Johnson Reply

    October 22, 2012 at 7:22 am

    I have been making Swedish pea soup for about 60 years. I like to make it with a pork Boston but or shoulder — you have to cut off all the fat after cooking, then cut into small pieces. I get the peas now from Kansas or IKEA. I cook the pork for about an hour with the peas then take it out, cut it up and put it back in after you skim the shells that float.

  4. Johanna Kindvall

    Johanna Kindvall Reply

    October 22, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Sounds great Fred! You are a real Peas Soup pro!

  5. Jonathan Johansson Reply

    May 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Great presentation of a tradition that I have instilled in my two New York born and bread daughters. I normally use split pea, and even if the taste is good, it will never beat the large scale batches of ärtsoppa that I ate whilst in school and Navy during my youth in Sweden…..

  6. linda Reply

    January 2, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Absolutely LOVE Swedish split pea soup. I like to use Swedish sausage instead of a ham or bacon. Bucannan’s in Red Wing MN makes the absolute best Swedish sausage. Wouldn’t buy it anywhere else.

    I cook the peas for no less than three hours, with diced carrot, celery and onion, pepper and salt (to taste)and then put 1 or 2 rings of Swedish sausage in and cook another additional hour. If the soup gets a bit thick I simply add a little more water.

    I also make the Swedish pancakes, but this is not a weekly ritual, only during the Holidays. I like using Lingdon Berries, blue berries or strawberries.

    My now grown children demand that I make them when they are home for the Holidays. It just doesn’t seem like Christmas without these on the list.

    Of course Lutefisk is something my husband has asked that I NOT cook. I guess he just doesn’t know what he is missing.

    Excellent site.
    linda

  7. Pingback: On Swedish pea soup and Thursday traditions | Emilia Lives Life

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