Erwtensoep – Dutch pea soup

A real ribsticker. It took Chris a while to crack this one, but he’s got the recipe pretty much perfect and it’s so much better than the stuff in the Unox tins we used to bring back from NL!

  • 500g split peas
  • 500g of bacon spare ribs, or two small ham hocks
  • 100g streaky unsmoked bacon
  • 1 horseshoe-shaped smoked sausage (rookworst) – Mattessons brand is the best known in the UK
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 celeriac
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 small head celery
  • 2 litres water

Rinse the split peas in a sieve.  They don’t need soaking.  Put the 2 litres of water, the peas, the ribs or hamhocks and the bacon into a big pan and bring gently to the boil. Skim off the floating scum, pour off the water, rinse again and put the peas and meat back onto the heat with 2 litres of clean water. Let them simmer gently while you get on with preparing the vegetables. Peel and dice the celeriac and potatotes and the carrot, and peel and chop the onion finely. Add all the vegetables except the celery to the pan and let it all simmer very gently for about 2 hours.

Take the meat out of the pan, remove the rind and bones, and cut the meat into small pieces. Return it to the pan with the finely chopped celery, and the chopped smoked sausage.  Add salt and pepper to taste before serving (it probably won’t need any salt).

This freezes very well, but make sure that you reheat it GENTLY or you’ll get exploding pea soup splashes all over your kitchen.

Eet smakelijk!

Sausages with lentils

First discovered in Delia Smith’s excellent book “Frugal Food”, but edited to save a bit of cooking time, cut down on the number of pans used, and to make more sauce!  Serves 4, but it’s worth doubling up the quantities and freezing half, as it’s a very useful thing to have in reserve for a quick tea.

  • 500g sausages (about 2 sausages per person)
  • 175g green or Puy lentils
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bayleaf
  • salt and black pepper

Rinse the lentils and put them in a saucepan with 1 litre of cold water. Bring them to simmering point and let them cook gently for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the sausages in a separate deep lidded casserole pan  in the oil until they are coloured (this will be the pan that everything gets bunged into at the end).  If you are using veggie sausages, you might need a bit more oil as they don’t have the fat content of the meaty ones.  Take the sausages out, drain the fat back into the big pan, and add the onions and garlic and let them soften over a low-ish heat for about 10 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, sugar, thyme and bayleaf, plus some fresh ground black pepper, and add the sausages back into the tomato mixture.  Simmer it all gently without a lid until it reduces a bit.  Your lentils should be cooked by now, so drain them (keep the cooking liquid) and add them to the big pan. Stir it all together and let it simmer again, this time with the lid on,  for another 20 minutes or so. If it looks a bit dry, add some of the lentil cooking liquid.  Taste and add pepper and salt if necessary before serving. If you want to bulk it out you can serve it with something carb-y to mop up the juices – couscous or mashed potato are my favourites, but pasta or polenta would work too.

Chestnut stuffing

It ain’t Christmas unless this is on the table.  If I could just think of a way to fashion it into the shape of a turkey we wouldn’t have to serve anything else.

  • 50g butter
  • 700g cooked and peeled chestnuts
  • 120g good quality pork sausagemeat
  • 120g gammon, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon of brandy (but I reckon you should put in a LOT more than this)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 500mls hot stock – chicken or vegetable
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a big frying pan and sauté the sausagemeat and the gammon, breaking up the sausagemeat into small chunks.  Remove from the pan, leaving all the buttery juices behind.  Add the chestnuts and cook them over a medium heat until they catch a bit at the edges.  Break them up a bit with a spoon so some are whole and some are in pieces.  Add more butter if necessary. Remove the chestnuts from the pan and keep them on one side with the cooked sausagemeat and gammon.  Add the flour to the butter in the pan and make a roux, adding more butter if necessary.  Cook for a couple of minutes, then pour in the brandy, then the hot chicken stock, and cook until the sauce is quite thick.  Add the chestnuts, sausage and gammon back into the pan and stir until everything is combined. Season with black pepper (it won’t need much salt, if any, because of the gammon and sausage).  Put into an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven with the roast, for about half an hour.

(This recipe was taken from a Woolworths cookery book bought in the 1960s by Auntie Christine, and kidnapped by my mum Ann, never to be returned!)