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Dried Pea Soup (Ärtsoppa, in Swedish)


Dried Pea Soup (Ärtsoppa, in Swedish)

Ärtsoppa, Yellow Pea Soup

photo ©K. Diehl, licensed to About.com

This is an immensely gratifying, warming soup traditionally made from dried yellow peas and served on Thursdays in Sweden, followed by crepe-like pancakes with whipped cream and preserves (Pannkakkor) for dessert. Try swirling a teaspoon of grainy brown mustard on top of each serving to enhance both the presentation and the rich combination of flavors.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes


  • 1 lb. dried yellow or green peas (whole if you can get them, but split ones work just as well)
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 finely chopped onions (2 cups)
  • 1 peeled whole onion studded with 2 cloves
  • 1 large chopped carrot (1/2 cup)
  • 1 meaty ham bone -or- 2 to 3 ham hocks
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. grainy brown mustard


Rinse and pick through 1 lb. dried yellow or green peas. If using whole peas, soak the peas overnight in their soup water (this isn’t necessary if using split peas so long as you can let the soup simmer for 2 to 3 hours).

Fill a large pot with 8 cups of water (or 6 if you like a thicker soup. You can always thin it with water as you go along if it looks too dense). Add the peas, 2 finely chopped onions, 1 peeled whole onion studded with two whole cloves, 1 large chopped carrot, and a meaty ham bone (-or- 2 to 3 ham hocks).

Bring to a boil, then cover pot and reduce to a simmer over low heat for 90 minutes.

If using whole peas, skim off any pea skins that have risen to the surface. Remove 2 to 3 cups of the soup, puree in a blender or food processor, and return puree to the pot (this helps to thicken the soup).

Continue to simmer for at least 30 more minutes; another hour or more won’t hurt it.

30 minutes before serving, remove the studded onion and the meat. Chop the meat (it should amount to about 1 cup) and return to pot.

Season the soup with 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Simmer 15 more minutes.

Serve, passing around grainy brown mustard to stir into soup to taste.

Det är jättegott! (in Swedish, “Yum!”).

Serves 4-5.

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