Warmth in a Bowl: Indulge in the Timeless Delight of Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup

Warmth in a Bowl: Indulge in the Timeless Delight of Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup

Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup, also known as “ærtesuppe,” is a dish that has stood the test of time, offering a comforting and nourishing experience. With a rich history and enduring popularity, this soup has become a staple in Danish cuisine. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the roots of this beloved soup, explore its common ingredients, highlight its nutritional benefits, and provide creative serving ideas. Get ready to embrace the heartwarming flavors and indulge in a bowl of Danish tradition.

The History of Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup

Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup has its roots in medieval times when it served as a humble yet nutritious staple for Danish peasants. Its affordability and ease of preparation made it a popular choice among the lower classes. Over time, the soup became ingrained in Danish culture and spread across social classes. Today, it continues to be cherished as a symbol of comfort and tradition, bringing people together through its timeless flavors.

Popularity and Common Ingredients

What makes Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup so popular? The answer lies in its simplicity, hearty nature, and delicious taste. The core ingredients typically include dried split peas, vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery, and a smoked pork hock for added depth of flavor. The combination of these ingredients creates a soup that is rich, savory, and satisfying.

Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup

Indulge in the rich and savory flavors of Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup. Made with smoked pork hock and a medley of vegetables, this easy-to-make soup is a hearty and delicious meal. Serve it hot with Danish rye bread and butter for a truly satisfying experience.
Course Soups
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 8
Author N. Jay Sorensen, MBA RDN


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb dried split peas
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 leek chopped (optional)
  • ¼ celery root chopped (optional)
  • 1 smoked pork hock about 1 lb
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp white vinegar optional
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley and/or dill


  • Rinse the split peas in a colander and remove any debris.
  • In a large pot, sauté the onion, carrots, celery, and leek (if using) over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, which should take about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the smoked pork hock, water, split peas, bay leaves, and thyme to the pot. Stir well to combine.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the pork hock from the pot and let cool slightly. Remove any meat from the bones and return the meat to the pot.
  • Discard the bay leaves and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar to give the soup a slightly tangy flavor.
  • Garnish each bowl with chopped parsley and/or dill.
  • Serve hot with Danish rye bread and butter on the side.


This classic recipe for Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup is incredibly flavorful and easy to prepare. The smoked pork hock imparts a rich taste, while the combination of vegetables adds a delightful sweetness. Enjoy a heartwarming and delicious meal by serving it piping hot alongside Danish rye bread and butter.

Nutritional Benefits of Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup

Beyond its delectable taste, Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup offers a range of nutritional benefits. Let’s explore them:

  • Plant-Based Protein: Split peas, the star ingredient of this soup, are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Just one cup of cooked split peas provides approximately 16 grams of protein, making it a nourishing choice for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Fiber Powerhouse: Split peas are also high in dietary fiber, with around 16 grams per cup of cooked peas. Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and helps regulate cholesterol levels, promoting heart health.
  • Abundance of Vitamins and Minerals: Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup packs a punch of vitamins and minerals. Split peas are a good source of iron, potassium, and vitamins B1 and B6. These nutrients support energy production, nerve function, and overall well-being.
  • Low-Fat Option: When made with lean meats like smoked pork hock, Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup is a low-fat dish, making it suitable for those aiming for a balanced diet.
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Serving Ideas for Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup

While Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup is delightful on its own, there are numerous serving ideas to elevate your culinary experience:

  • Danish Rye Bread and Butter: The perfect accompaniment to this soup is a slice of dense Danish rye bread spread with creamy butter. The contrasting textures and flavors create a harmonious combination.
  • Crusty Bread and Cheese: Serve the soup alongside crusty bread, such as a baguette or sourdough, and pair it with a selection of Danish cheeses. The interplay of the soup’s warmth and the coolness of the cheese will tantalize your taste buds.
  • Smoked Fish Salad: Embrace the Scandinavian influence by serving a light smoked fish salad alongside the soup. The smoky flavors of the fish complement the soup’s richness, creating a well-rounded meal.
  • Roasted Root Vegetables: Add more depth to your meal by serving roasted root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, or turnips, on the side. The earthy flavors of the vegetables will enhance the overall dining experience.
  • Danish Pickles: Introduce a tangy and vibrant element to your meal by serving traditional Danish pickles, such as pickled beets or cucumbers. The acidity cuts through the richness of the soup, providing a delightful contrast.


Traditional Danish Split Pea Soup represents a culinary journey through Danish history and tradition. With its humble origins, comforting flavors, and nutritional benefits, this soup continues to captivate and nourish generations. By incorporating this recipe into your repertoire and exploring the various serving ideas, you can experience the heartwarming embrace of Danish cuisine. So, gather your ingredients, embrace the tradition, and savor every spoonful of this timeless dish.

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