Sunday, 19 April 2015

That Green Gunk!

See that slimy green gunk on the left? The one that looks like
        a) radioactive waste
        b) something  that´s meant for the garbage can  or
        c) something that´s ermmm, too gross to mention.

Well, that green gunk is the one food that I love above all else in The Netherlands.

My love story with the green hunk, I mean green gunk began two years ago when I first visited The Netherlands.  On the first day of my visit, my host-BFF introduced me to HEMA, a chain of stores that is often touted as the Dutch version of Ikea.  Like Ikea, the big Hema stores usually have cafeterias where one can have hot meals, sandwiches, pastries, cakes and well, soup.

That particular day was a bit cold,  and so I decided to have soup.  There were two choices; a rather anemic-looking chicken soup and a green gunk called Erwtensoep.  Of course I chose the weird looking food! And thus began my love for the Erwtensoep.

What is Erwtensoep?
It´s the Dutch version of split pea soup.  That green coloring? That´s from the chlorophyll of the peas, dear.  The soup according to google, usually contains  carrots, potato, leek, onion and of course some seasoning.  But for me, the icing on the ermm, soup, are the chunks of smoked sausage called rookworst mixed in.  Those meaty chunks add ooomph to the decidedly mellow flavor of the veggies.

Fast forward to now, and through a strange twist of fate ( or actually my desire to get out of what has become a bit of a monotonous existence in Spain),   and  here I am now living and working in The Netherlands.  I have a bit of a personal attachment to this soup, and it is a bit shameful really, but during my first few weeks, while I was grappling with a lot of challenges in my relocation, I found solace in eating bowls upon bowls of Erwtensoep.    If I was hungry and too tired/sad/stressed about life here,  my automatic response was to heat up a pack of the soup to carry me through.  You could not have imagined how many times I berated myself during my first month here.  How I second-guessed my sanity for coming here when I was just doing fine in Madrid.  It was awful really, so awful that I cried some nights, and made a plan to talk to my former manager in Madrid and ask her if I can come back.  I was so close to running back to Spain.  For weeks, I had this internal diatribe:
Are you crazy?  You chose to leave a stable job, that beautiful city with great food, gracious people and unending happenings for this cold land and those pushy people who don´t care what happens to you as long as they get what they want?

And truly, in my first few weeks here,  each grocery visit  would find me with cans and tetrapaks of Erwtensoep.  It was my comfort food, the one sure thing I knew was good in this place.

I think I have tasted all the brands of Erwtensoep available.  There´s Unox, the market leader in ready made hearty soup in Holland,  Konig which is a bit more expensive than Unox, and then there were the house brands of the different supermarkets.   I´ve tried Hoogvliet´s, Dirk´s  and Lidl´s versions of Erwtensoep.  And so far,  this brand is my favorite:

                         This is my favorite Erwtensoep.

I like this the most because the soup has chunky bits of veggies, and thus more texture.  The taste, to be honest, is all too similar among all the Erwtensoep I´ve eaten.  It´s the texture that makes this soup better than the rest.

More Soup
Spring is coming, and with it the tulips and sunshine,  and me slowly getting used to life in this land.   I still miss Madrid.  But I realize,  at least for this year, I need to see myself through and learn everything I can here and make all the challenges and hassles I´ve gone through in the longest three months of my working life worth it.  So yes, my emotional need for my favorite hearty soup to comfort me through the cold days is waning.  But I still keep a few packs of the soup, just in case.  It is still the perfect dinner on nights when I am too tired to do anything and when a sandwich just
 won´t cut it.   It is still the one small good thing that I  seek for nourishment,  even as I slowly slowly get used to the routines of my  life here in The Netherlands.


  1. The soup looks really interesting and a bit similar to soups we have in Czech Republic, I'd love to try the Dutch version one day! :)

  2. Hello Vita! Yup it´s my comfort food here in NL :-)

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