Pea Soup (Hernerakkaa)

Pea soup.  It’s something you either love or hate.  Pea soup is something you will find in almost every Finnish cookbook.  In The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas she calls pea soup hernerakkaa.  Interestingly, in Finland it is a traditional Thursday supper followed by baked pancakes with homemade jam for dessert.  Many of the pea soup recipes I read call for adding a couple dollops of whipped cream just before serving.  Finnish pea soup is also served with a side of spicy mustard and that is added at the table based on personal taste.  Some of the Finnish pea soup recipes included meat, others did not.  Pea soup is one of my dad’s favorites and mine as well.  My immediate family eats it but I’m not sure it ranks in their top five soup choices.  I say my immediate family because I’m quite certain none of my brothers would eat it.  My daughter posted a picture of their homemade pea soup a week or so ago and I decided I needed to make a pot.  I had a beautiful, meaty pork hock in the freezer and a bag of Michigan split peas so I was all set.  I decided to make my soup in the pressure cooker but I first cooked my ham shank which was a good decision.

Split peas do not require soaking.  Just put them in a colander and rinse them well.

Ingredients:

Pork hock or ham bone

1 pound of split peas

4 cups of water

4 cups of chicken broth

3 T butter

1 medium onion finely diced

1 cup of finely diced carrots

1 cup of finely diced celery

3 or 4 cloves of garlic minced

1 cup of diced potato (peeled and rinsed)

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

I used my electric pressure cooker which I think works great for dishes like this.  I put the pork hock in the cooker, added 4 cups of water and set it on high pressure for 20 minutes and allowed the cooker to release naturally.

The meat fell off the bone and I had 4 cups of excellent broth to start my soup.

Heat the 3 tablespoons of butter in the pressure cooker using the saute setting.  Saute the onion, carrots, and celery for 2-3 minutes until tender.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Add the diced meat and potato.

Add the peas that you’ve rinsed well, the bay leaves, the 4 cups of pork broth and 2 cups of the chicken broth.

Set the pressure canner for 20 minutes on high pressure.  Do a quick release.

Scoop out a little for a taste.  Add additional salt and pepper if needed.

I added 2 more cups of chicken broth at this point.  Leave the pressure cooker setting on warm until you’re ready to serve.  Ladle into bowls and serve with homemade croutons or crusty bread.  Maybe the next time I make pea soup I’ll whip up some heavy cream and stir a good size dollop in each bowl.  And put the spicy mustard out for an authentic Finn bite.

NOTE:  Once this sits over night the flavors are even better but it also thickens even more.  You could slice the soup!  Prior to serving the leftovers stir in additional broth or water.  The next time I make this I may use a quarter less peas.

You can make this in a dutch oven on top of the stove if you don’t have a pressure cooker or instant pot.  I would still recommend starting the ham hock first.

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