GP’s 2017 Advent Calendar of Cuisine
Snert (pronounced like ‘Shnayrrt’ as much as anything) is a hearty pea soup traditionally eaten in Holland during the winter months. It is usually accompanied with a thick slice of dark rye bread topped with cheese and ham, and is intended to be substantial meal in itself. A bowl of this will set you up for a day of whatever it is you intend to get up to whilst you’re in Amsterdam. But don’t worry, I’m not here to judge.
What you’re aiming for is a dish so rich and thick that your spoon will stand up in it unaided. This means that the volume of liquid is a little scant so you need to keep an eye on it during cooking, and stir frequently. The Dutch like to make it a day in advance, like an Italian Ribolatta, so that the flavours have time to blend and intensify. Snert also keeps well in the freezer for a month or so.
The Dutch make it with Roukworst, a type of smoked sausage, and Kaatenspek, fatty cooked and smoked bacon. I’ve substituted more easily available meats for these, and it works pretty well.
It takes about half an hour to prep, and total cooking time is around 2hr 30mins. This recipe serves 4.
- 2 1/2 cups of dried split green peas
- 1 1/2 pints of water
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 Veg stock cube
- 2 carrots, trimmed , peeled and sliced
- 1 big spud, peeled and sliced
- 1 leek, trimmed and peeled, and sliced into thick rings
- 1 medium celeriac bulb, peeled and sliced, or a few sticks of celery, sliced
- 4 thick rashers of smokey bacon, rind trimmed, and cut into strips
- 1 bratwurst (Aldi do a nice one) or similar smoked sausage from the deli counter, sliced
- Celery leaves and fresh parsley to garnish
Check the dried peas for grit, wash, and soak over night in the water.
Cook the peas on a low heat for 1hr 30 mins with the bay leaves and stock cube, keeping the lid on the pan, then add all the other veg and cook for another hour with the lid off. Keep a close eye on it at this stage and stir often, and add a little water if it starts to solidify – a real possibility.
Meanwhile fry the bacon in a little olive oil until crisp, and add the sliced sausage for a few minutes at the end until lightly browned. Remove the bacon and sausage and put to one side, and reserve the oil.
By now the boiling mixture should be nice and thick. Take off the heat, add the reserved oil and blitz with a hand blender, mash with a spud masher or leave chunky, depending on your preference and kitchen equipment. Chuck in the bacon and sausage and warm through. Leave on the stove top overnight, or serve immediately with the celery and parsley leaves as garnish.
A couple of slices of Welsh Rarebit made on granary bread make a nice accompaniment; or cut them into chunks, bung them in and call them croutons.
As the Dutch say ‘Hasj, shpeed, ecstace!’
© bobo 2017