The Elfstedentocht was cancelled.
We were this close! Even the date was set (last Sunday) and hundreds of volunteers were sweeping the snow off the ice and transplanting ice to places were it was not thick enough.
And I imagine kind Frisian housewives were already cooking large batches of split pea soup that they traditionally offer to the freezing audience cheering on the participants along the route.
But alas, it was not meant to be – the ice was not thick enough to carry the odd 16 thousand skaters. My husband and nine year old son who are both skating enthusiasts, consoled themselves somewhat by participating in a skating race on the nearby lake Rutbeek. And when they got home, cold, exhausted, but satisfied, as a good wife and mother, I served them the warming and nutritious pea soup.
Now I must confess that the recipe I make was (shockingly) not provided by my Dutch mother-in-law, but by Mrs.Nigella Lawson. Why? Well, my mother-in law’s soup is meat-centered, unlike Nigella’s soup, which can easily be made vegetarian, plus I like Mrs. Lawson’s inclusion of mace.
About the Frankfurters – this is one of the very few occasions that I use the make-believe soy-based vegetarian sausages (because the kids insist). You can use real Frankfurters or omit them – as you please.
Split pea soup
from Nigella Lawson: Feast
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced finely
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 stick of celery, diced finely
2 – 3 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp ground mace
500 g yellow or green split peas
1,5 l chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
8 vegetarian sausages (or Frankfurters, if that is your thing)
Warm the oil in a heavy-based wide saucepan and add the chopped vegetables. Cook them for about 5 to 10 minutes, until soft but not coloured.
Add the ground mace – this may be a small amount but it’s crucial to the taste – give a good stir and then add the split peas and stir again till they are glossily mixed with the oil- slicked, cooked-down vegetables. Pour over the stock and add the bay leaves, bring to the boil. Cover, turn down the heat and cook for about an hour until everything is tender, adding more stock if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
You can slice the sausages and warm them in the soup, or warm them separately and add some slices into each person’s bowl.