SWEDEN: Ärtsoppa + Pannkakor med Sylt Lingon (Yellow Pea Soup + Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam)
Here’s what we learned about Ärtsoppa in our research this week:
- Ärtsoppa (EHRT-soh-puh) is traditionally eaten on Thursdays in Sweden. It’s said that even the King of Sweden eats this on Thursdays. This tradition dates back to the middle ages.
- The Finnish eat this same soup, but with green peas.
- In Sweden, ärtsoppa is served in schools, the military, hospitals, government offices, and many restaurants on Thursdays.
- It is traditionally eaten with Swedish pancakes and lingonberry jam. Also, these pancakes are not eaten for breakfast, but rather as a lunch/dinner item. That said, we had the leftovers for breakfast the next day. 😉
- The traditional beverage that accompanies this meal is a liqueur called Punsch. It is not easy to find, but I HIGHLY recommend you seek out a bottle. It is low alcohol, sweet, and complex. It’s fantastic alone, over ice, served hot, with sparkling water, with lemon squeezed in, in your coffee… you get the point. Here’s more about Punsch. If you can’t find it in a store near you, there’s always online: K&L Wine Merchants has it available.
- “When it rains soup, the poor man has no spoon” ~ SWEDISH PROVERB
What an exciting night in Casa SOOP. Not only did the SF Giants win the game that will send them to the world series (sorry Cardinals fans), but we got to have pea soup, Swedish pancakes, Swedish punsch, AND we got a visit from the fire department. As it turns out baseball games, liqueur and making pancakes don’t go so well together. (Quick shout out to my local fire department: thank you for responding so quickly! Next time, I will not walk away from a browning Swedish pancake to watch a home run hit!)
Okay, so deviating a bit from our traditional Sunday SOOP, we ate this soup on a Thursday as it is done in Sweden. Frankly, I did not give the soup enough time to cook (the recipe has been adjusted to reflect an increased cooking time), but since it was a school night, we forged ahead and just ate it a little crunchy. Even still, it was a hit. I have said my whole life that I don’t like split pea soup (sorry mom), but this recipe converted me. As it was cooking, I was pretty much grumbling under my breath about how it smells like split pea soup, but my boys all kept talking about how great it smelled, so I figured at least 3 people would like the soup. Turns out I liked it too.
A trip to IKEA will yield you not only Swedish mustard and lingonberry jam, but also all kinds of fun chocolates, cookies, and other Swedish goodies. Maybe that’s why the kids were so excited about dinner last night! Do hunt down the Swedish Punsch too. There is a non-alcoholic version as well where you can add your own gin to make a fab cocktail. The boys got to have some of the non-alcoholic mixed with elderflower juice from Ikea. Happy campers.
- 2 cups dried yellow peas*
- 1 large smoked ham hock**
- 6 cups water
- 1 small onion
- 1 carrot, chopped small (I cheated and used Trader Joes’ shredded carrots)
- 8 cloves
- 2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, plus a few stalks for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon – 2 teaspoons salt depending on how salty your ham hock is
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Whole grain mustard***
- Soak yellow peas for about 12-24 hours – discarding any impurities.
- Prepare small onion by spiking it with the 8 cloves.
- After soaking, rinse the peas and add them to a large soup pot along with 6 cups water, ham hock, chopped onion, carrot, cloved onion, and thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover.
- Cook with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until the peas are soft enough approximately 6 hours****.
- When it is tender, remove the meat and cut into small pieces and return meat to the soup – discarding bones, fat and gristle.
- Remove and discard cloved onion. If desired, use an immersion blender to puree soup (we did).
- Check for seasonings – adding more salt or pepper.
- Serve with whole grain mustard – each person adding as much as they like to their tastes.
* Nordic yellow peas are not the easiest thing to come by. I found them at a Scandinavian grocery store in Berkeley. They do mail orders. Nordic House has the whole yellow peas which are more traditional, but split yellow peas can be used if you can’t find the whole yellow peas. If you use split yellow peas, you do not need to soak the peas over night – just begin soaking them the morning you plan to make this soup. Bob’s Red Mill carries split yellow peas.
** This can be made vegetarian by omitting the ham hock. Since a lot of the salt/depth of flavor comes from the ham hock, please replace the ham by adding a vegetarian bouillon cube.
*** Ikea sells whole grain mustard that is unlike any mustard we’ve tasted before. It’s almost like a cross of dijon, honey mustard, and gouldens. It is quite spicy, but sweet at the same time and was absolutely delicious in this soup. If you don’t live near an Ikea, I’d recommend dijon with a little bit of honey stirred in as a substitute. Beckett found it a little too spicy for his liking, but found the lingonberry jam quite delightful.
**** Split yellow peas will take at least half the time. Next time I will use split yellow peas. 😉
Pannkakor med Sylt Lingon | Gluten-Free Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberries
Makes 12 pancakes depending on the size of your frying pan.
- 6 eggs
- 5 cups of milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour*
- 4 tablespoons of butter, melted
- Preheat oven to “warm” or lowest setting and place a plate or cookie sheet in the oven.
- Whisk the eggs and add in the milk- continuing to whisk until blended. Add flour, salt and melted butter and mix together until thoroughly combined. Batter should be fairly thin – about half as thick as traditional American pancake batter.
- Spoon 1/2 cup of batter into a large buttered frying pan at medium-low heat and spread the mixture around by tilting the pan as you would for a crepe.
- Brown the pancake on one side – watching for bubbles to form on the top. Before flipping, take a peek and make sure bottom side is browned. Flip your pancake over and brown on the other side.
- Once browned on both sides, place in oven to keep warm while you make the rest of the pancakes.
- Serve with a generous spoonful of lingonberry preserves (this can be found at IKEA)
* THIS is my go to all-purpose GF flour. It hasn’t let me down yet. I make a big batch of it and use it in everything. It was truly hard to tell that these pancakes were gluten-free.