ä stands for “ärtsoppa”

Ä, our 28th letter –  stands for “Ärtsoppa” (Split Yellow Pea Soup)


“Ärtsoppa” (Split Yellow Pea Soup) has been our notational dish since 1200s – and we eat in on every Thursday with pancakes and jam as dessert. Every where in Sweden is’t serve – schools, hospital, restaurants, cafes, defence forces and at sea. Everybody moans when it’s on the menu, but if changed into something else – putting an other type of soup on … the 3rd world war is starting. We have a love and hate relastion to your beloved soup. Pea has a very high biological value. Pea soup is found predominantly in northern Europe and parts of Central Europe, the USA and Canada.  The right is also popular in Russia, Iran, Iraq and India. In Finland cooked pea soup of green peas. In India it is seasoned with curry.

(text: sv.wikipedia.org) – In Sweden, consumption of pea soup punishable at least since the 1200s. Pea soup with pork belonged to the author August Strindberg’s favorite dishes. “Gudamat” (Food for Gods) he called it. Pea soup is now a fairly common dish, especially in the military and schools. The “peas with pork” has become Thursday dinner in Sweden is likely due to the Friday of the Catholic Middle Ages was a fast day, and that such a day would be preceded by a steady feast. Boiled, cured/salt pork was a base in medieval cookery and peas was a festive alternative to cabbage and turnips as everyday it was usual to tugged to the pork. Traditionally served nowadays sometimes hot punch into pea soup. There is no documented explanation for it, but probably it is an emergence in the 1800s nationalism in which the punch was consumed fresh, the National Romantic students, and when combined with something that was considered typical old Swedish. The dessert to split pea soup is traditionally a form of pancake with jam.

In 1577 – our King Eric XIV was poisoned with arsenic through a bowl of “ärtsoppa”. So this is lethal dish.

In the high society around 1840 they were drinking “varm punsch” – hot punsch – with the soup and some restaurants still  toady serve that. Punsch is a liquor, sweet – and made on sugar – Carlshamns Flagg Punsch (Swedish product).  If we serve “ärtsoppa” for friends for dinner you are serving it with punsch, we put the punsch in a sauce pan on the stove and it just boils away, but if not the cork and some of the liquor is removed the bottle will explode – because it expand quite a bit from the heat. A coupe of shots of the hot punsch and you will feel it – it goes straight to the head and if not careful the head will be a couple sizes too big the next day. I think it’s only made for the Swedish market, but lovely with some ice in to go with the after dinner coffee too out in the garden a beautiful summer evening. We drink 6 million litre of it per year; don’t think all of goes with the pea soup. That’s over a 0.5 litr (1 pint) per capita.

The soup takes 1,5 day to make – but it’s worth it.

Swedish Yellow Pea Soup, serves 4

500ml (1pint) yellow peas
3ltr (101fl oz)water
400g (14.10oz) cured ham shoulder
1 onion – peel and keep whole
1 carrot – peel and keep whole
5ml (1tsp) thyme, dried
5ml (1tsp) marjoram, dried
4  whole cloves
60ml (4tbsp) coarse mustard
5 whole peppercorn
30ml (2tbsp) coarse mustard

Soak the peas the day before and pour off the water before cooking.
1, Boil the peas in a large pot of salted water. Add the peppercorns, marjoram, thyme, and possibly 4 whole cloves. Peel the onion and add to it along with carrot (both must be intact) and put in the cured pork shoulder whole.
2. Let the peas cook until tender (about 2 hours) but keep an eye on the pork shoulder in the meantime. Pick up the pork when it is tender. Stir from time to time in the peas and remove the foam and pea peel from the surface of the soup.
3. The soup may need a little extra water, depending on how much the peas have sucked for him and how hard it is boiling. The cooking time may vary slightly, depending on the bow quality.
4. Cut the shoulder into pieces when the soup begins to see finished out and put in a dish next. It cut the meat can also be add to in the soup again. Remove the onions and carrots and serve long side with soap. Pick up any cloves. Season the soup to finish with 30ml (2tbsp) of mustard. Top the with some fresh thyme.

Dinner with friends … ärtsoppa always welcome and so of course is the punsch and pancakes.  Some of the fine dinning places has started to bring it back on the menu again on Thursdays. We also started to use the sweet liquor in desserts and cakes.

Photos provided by and thanks to;

12 thoughts on “ä stands for “ärtsoppa”

  1. i would love to try these yellow peas, i have never heard of them and i have never seen them in the stores here. sounds yummy, the soup. thanks for posting

    • Neither do I … *laugher … I blame google for that. It’s the cured pork shoulder. Thanks for pointing it out. I’m going to change it straight away.

      • That was Swenglish it worst … and I check the translation and did changes, but must have missed that one. Hope you will do the soap, because it’s really good and there is bacon in it too.

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