A Rustic, Nordic Pea Soup or How We Scandis Survive the Winter Months

Rustic Nordic Pea Soup | My Blue&White Kitchen

Is it winter where you live? Cold? Do you have snow? Do you crave the sun? Oh the sun!

Well if you live in a dark place that occasionally feels hopeless (I blame the lack of serotonin), then you've come to the right place. My Blue&White Kitchen presents: Rustic, Nordic Pea Soup aka how we Scandis (try to) survive the long winter months.

This is a true Nordic favorite. There are few things better than pea soup on a cold winter day when you worry that your nose might fall off because of the Arctic temperatures. In both Finland and Sweden, pea soup is traditionally served on Thursdays. Actually, I doubt that you can find pea soup on any restaurant's or school's menu on any other day of the week. Speaking of traditions, it's always followed by Dutch baby pancake, whipped cream, and jam. The dessert is obligatory. Note to self: post a Dutch baby recipe.

You can still make and serve this on another day. After all, no one is going to find out, right? Unless you blog about it, that is... I made this soup last Saturday and ate it on Monday. And Tuesday. And probably today as well. Make a big serving and eat it throughout the week; it tastes much more better on the second or third day. Actually, I rarely eat it on the day I make it. Patience, friends, patience. That said, this soup is just perfect for a busy week when leftovers are more than welcome.

This may not be the sexiest soup in culinary history but it sure is delicious and makes the winter so much more bearable.

Cheers to a better 2015. Vive la France!

Rustic Nordic Pea Soup

serves 6 to 8

Pea soup is popular all over Scandinavia. In Finland, green peas are used, but to make a Swedish/Norwegian/Danish version, use yellow peas instead. If you can't find smoked pork shank, substitute it with (smoked) bacon. This soup can be made vegetarian by simply leaving the meat out. To still get a wonderful smoky flavor, you could add a pinch of smoked salt. Some people prefer to add one or two diced carrots to the soup; it's really up to you. If you do, just add it to the pot with the onion. The cooking times listed below are minimum cooking times; the longer you cook it on low heat, the better it gets. Many like to add mustard to their soup. The mustard is always being served on the side so everyone can stir it in to ones taste. 

500 g dried whole green peas, picked over, rinsed, & soaked for 10 hours
olive oil
1 onion, diced
2,5 l (10 ½ cups) water
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp dried marjoram
400 g smoked pork shank with bone

optional: mustard, for serving

In a big pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the water, salt, marjoram, peas, and pork shank. Bring to a boil and let simmer for at least an hour. At this point, the soup won't look that tasty as the pea husks float on top. Believe me, it will get better.

Remove the shank. Shred meat and discard skin and fat. Return the meat and bone back to the pot. Cook for at least another hour. Add more liquid if necessary. Should the soup look too thin, cook it without a lid for a while.

Taste and season. Discard the bone before serving.

Serve with mustard if preferred and rye bread or crispbread.

Rustic Nordic Pea Soup | My Blue&White Kitchen

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Farmers' Market Glory – Summer Potato Salad

Summer Potato Salad | my blue&white kitchen

How can one not be inspired by summer’s bounty? I’m like a kid in a candy shop whenever I visit a farmers’ market these days as I easily get overwhelmed by all the fresh produce: berries, fruit, vegetables, herbs... So much goodness! I’m lucky to live within a short walking distance of not only one but two farmers’ markets, so I try to find my way to them several times a week. You almost never see me leaving without a bagful of green peas (I eat them raw – one of the best things I know), some local strawberries while still in season (they're amazing at the moment), and new potatoes (cause I just can't get enough of their lovely, delicate flavor). Also, I’m addicted to the sweet-like-candy cherry tomatoes that an old lady sells at her stall every summer. They are the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted, and I never miss the chance to tell her that.

I buy what looks fresh and vibrant, what inspires me the most. When you have great produce at hand, you don’t need to do much to them anymore. Rather, let the textures, flavors, and colors speak their own language. That's my summer cooking philosophy.

Potato salad has always been a summer staple out our home. It's the perfect side dish to accompany grilled meat or fish without having to spend too much time in the kitchen. To be honest, I often make salads on the porch. That way I don't have the feeling I'm trapped inside missing all the fun. Potato salad is also what I most often get asked to bring with me to a summer potluck with friends or family. It's a crowd-pleaser and we rarely end up having leftovers. You would never see mayonnaise in my potato salads as I like to prepare them the way it's done back home in southern Germany with a simple vinaigrette. In this recipe, I added some dijon mustard to the vinaigrette as well as honey which may not be traditional but definitely delicious. Feel free to play around with different vegetables and herbs; use what's in season, what inspires you, or what simply make your mouth water.

Summer Potato Salad | my blue&white kitchen

I’m keeping it short today as the sun is shining so brightly outside and it would be a waste to spend more time sitting here in front of the laptop telling you how wonderful summer evenings are. Go outside, soak up the sun while it's still shining so gleefully! That's exactly what I'm going to do right now.

Summer Potato Salad | my blue&white kitchen

Summer Potato Salad

serves 6 as a side

This salad can be prepared in advance. If doing so, add the radishes, peas, and herbs just before serving or they'll lose their color and/or wilt. You may also need to add some more vinaigrette before serving as the potatoes will probably soak up most of it. Furthermore, if you decide to make the salad in advance, I would let the potatoes cool completely before adding the other vegetables and herbs; you can, however, add the vinaigrette while the potatoes are still warm.

1 kg (2 lb) new potatoes (preferably small ones), scrubbed
2 small cucumbers (I love to use Kirby cucumbers), sliced
1 red scallion, sliced
1 small bunch of pink radishes, cut into sticks
a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, preferably in several colors, cut into wedges
2 ½ dl (1 cup) shelled green peas
a bunch of fresh herbs, such as dill, chive, or parsley, roughly chopped

For the vinaigrette
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
a drizzle of honey or agave nectar
fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper


Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Put the pot back to the stove top and let sit for a while to absorb any water that may still cling to the potatoes and potentially make them soggy. Let the potatoes cool a bit. Halve or slice the potatoes, depending on their size. [note: New potatoes usually have only a very thin skin. Therefore, I prefer them unpeeled.] Add to a big bowl.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Add to the still warm potatoes and mix to combine.

Boil the green peas in salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under ice cold water to stop them from cooking further as well as to help them keep their bright color.

Add everything to the dressed potatoes and toss gently. Serve with grilled fish or meat.

Summer Potato Salad | my blue&white kitchen