2 Mar 2014

Finland Food: Hernekeitto - Pea Soup

This traditional pea soup is made from dried peas and pork (it's not very photogenic, I'm afraid...). It's traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday. It takes quite a long to finish, but the preparation is easy and doesn't take much effort. It's a very filling soup and also quite cheap to prepare. Pea soup is on Thursday's menu in many canteens and lunch cafeterias and then usually accompanied with a dessert of pancakes. As today is "Shrove Sunday" here in Finland, you could also have these for dessert or later with coffee. (Yes, we have Shrove Sunday and Tuesday =) ).

Pea soup 

serves 6-8

500 g dried peas
300-400 g (smoked) pork shank/shoulder (with bones preferably) or ham or sauteed ground meat
1-2 onions
2 tsp salt (or according to taste)

Start by rinsing the peas in a colander. Put them in 2 L water and let them soak for 10-12 h. If you have trouble getting the peas soft, you can try adding a teaspoonful of baking powder to the soaking water (but then you will have to remember to toss the soaking liquid away and rinse the peas again to remove the baking powder before cooking them. Either measure the water which you pour out or remember how full your pot was, so that you won't add too much fresh water to the soaked peas).

If you are using uncooked meat*, put it also to the pot with the peas and then turn the heat on. Cook the peas on low/medium heat for 1 hour. Remove the foam and pea skins, if they end up floating to the surface. After 1 hour, remove the meat and let cool a bit before cutting to small pieces. Add chopped onion and cook for another hour or until the peas are soft and mushy. Add the previously cooked meat and let it warm up.Season with salt. Add some water, if it's too thick (the soup should be thick rather than watery, but of course that's a matter of taste.)

You can serve the soup with some mustard so that everyone can mix it into their soup if they want. It accompanies the taste of pork very well.

*If you are using already cooked meat such as ham or sauteed ground meat, add it about 1/2 hour before the soup is ready.

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