Swe-Dishes: SwedishFood.com’s Ärtsoppa

Photo: Swedishfood.com

Food & Drink

Swe-Dishes: SwedishFood.com’s Ärtsoppa

Chilly weather calls for hot soup! Here’s a recipe for yellow pea soup (Ärtsoppa) from John Duxbury of SwedishFood.com.

Yellow pea soup is a classic Swedish dish. According to Duxbury, it has been served in Sweden since the Middle Ages. Traditionally it was served on Thursdays to get people ready for the Christian fast.

“It is very close in taste and texture to pease pudding, a famous traditional British dish, much loved by my mother,” Duxbury writes. “In other words, it is quite mealy, but if you would like it to be more soupy, just add a little more stock.”


  • Traditionally this is served with hot Swedish punsch (a rum based liqueur with arrack), but it is also great with beer!
  • Traditionally the soup is also followed by pancakes with strawberry jam and cream.
  • Increase the amount of stock if you would like it more “soupy.”
  • If you have any leftovers, the soup keeps well for several days in a fridge and can then be reheated.
Artsopa, split pea soup recipe, Swedish recipe
Photo: Swedishfood.com


  • 1¼ lb. dried yellow split peas
  • 1¼ lb. unsmoked ham hock*
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely diced
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 8 cups ham of chicken stock, made with 3 bouillon cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. freshly thyme and/or marjoram, finely chopped

*Swedes normally would use 1¼ lb. piece salted pork belly, but I have suggested using a ham hock as it is easier to obtain. If you use salted pork belly, instead of boiling it in water, as in Step 2, brown it in a pan before using.

*If you can’t find a piece of salted pork belly or a ham hock, then use a 8 oz. piece of good quality, unsmoked ham instead and omit Step 2.


  1. Rinse the split peas in cold water and leave to soak overnight. Drain them and put them to one side.
  2. Put the ham hock in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and discard the water. (This removes any excessive saltiness.)
  3. Put a large saucepan on a low heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the celery, onions and dried herbs and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft but not colored.
  4. Add the peas, ham and stock and heat until simmering. Then skim off any foam and simmer with the lid on for 50 minutes.
  5. Use tongs to pull out the ham and move it to a board. Chop and shred it up, discarding any rind and fatty pieces. Roughly mash the peas with a potato masher, then stir in the shredded ham and the fresh thyme and/or marjoram.
  6. Season the soup with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste before serving, although because the meat is salty, the soup may not need any extra salt.
  7. Serve with knäckebröd (rye crispbread) and individual dishes of a good Swedish mustard, such as Johnny’s senap. (Swedes traditionally dip their spoons into the mustard before taking a spoonful of the soup.) Swedish mustard is slightly sweeter and less hot than English or French mustard and goes really well with this soup. You can buy it online, at IKEA and in specialist shops.

John Duxbury enjoys cooking Swedish food and went to the trouble of learning Swedish so he could read Swedish cookbooks. The love affair with Swedish food started as a result of numerous visits to Sweden when he was working with Swedish students. When he retired from teaching he decided to set up http://www.swedishfood.com so other people with an interest in Swedish cooking could benefit from his work.

© 2023 Swedish Match. All right reserved.

icon_facebook icon_twitter icon_email

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?