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Swedish Yellow Pea Soup

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.

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Swedish Yellow Pea Soup (Ärtsoppa)

  • Author: Johanna Kindvall
  • Total Time: 13 hours
  • Yield: 4 1x


In Sweden there is a tradition to eat Pea Soup every Thursday.


  • 2 cups (500 ml) dried whole yellow peas*
  • one onion
  • one carrot (optional)
  • plenty of thyme or marjoram
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb (250 gram) salted pork **


  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.


* 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.

  • Prep Time: 12 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour

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.

View Comments (11)
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…..

  • 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.

  • I love this soup, but everytime I make it the peas do not get soft, I’ve tried soaking them overnite as well, so my soup has been on the stove for hours now, the peas are still not soft or even getting close to being mushy, I followed the above recipe. My Mom( who was from Sweden) used to make it when we were kids and unfortunately she didnt write it down. Please if you can tell me what I’m doing wrong I would so appreciate it. Thank you!

  • In our family, pea soup was always served with Swedish pancakes spread with lingonberries. We even have a plattpan to make little pancakes. However, it’s very time-consuming to make lots of little pancakes for a family, so our generation made what I call German pancakes (thin batter, but the pancakes are the size of the frying pan – 10″).

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