The language of the ‘Hollandse pot’
Every winter, steaming hot plates of food magically appear on tables in Dutch homes everywhere—things like big pots full of snert, boerenkool or hutspot. These are collectively called Hollandse pot, or stamppot. These are quite hearty meals that fill the belly and warm up you right down to your toes. Even though Dutch winters aren’t as cold as they used to be, these dishes are still wildly popular in the winter months.
A good mash-up
Two typically Dutch things come together in stamppot:
- A good meal consisting of potatoes, vegetables and meat.
- The Dutch passion for mashing up their food.
There can be all sorts of vegetables in stamppot, but what they all have in common is that the potatoes and vegetables are mashed together. The best-known versions are kale stamppot, sauerkraut stamppot and endive stamppot. They’re traditionally served with smoked sausage and, for those who like it, a little gravy.
Origin of stamppot
But stamppot actually isn’t so very Dutch. Did you know that the origin of the Dutch stamppot lies in the time when the Spanish troops occupied the Netherlands in the 16th century? The war ended with the Leids Ontzet, or Liberation of Leiden. When the Spanish soldiers fled south after their defeat, the starving Dutch discovered a pot with a stamppot of parsnips, meat and tubers which had been left behind. The hutspot, as it was called, became a symbol of victory over the Spaniards and the freedom of the Dutch. Nowadays, Leids Ontzet is still celebrated every year on the 3rd of October. With hutspot, of course.
Today’s hutspot is rather different from what it used to be. In the sixteenth century, neither carrots nor potatoes were very well known in the Netherlands. And those are precisely the two main ingredients of a good hutspot.
Straight up in the snert
It is soup, but proper Dutch pea soup is so hearty that you can stand your spoon upright in it. It’s made of split peas, meat, potatoes, carrots, herbs and smoked sausage. If you leave the soup to stand overnight, it becomes even thicker and tastier. Only when the soup is this thick is it worthy of the name ‘snert’.
Pea soup and stamppot are almost inextricably linked to rookworst, or smoked sausage. For centuries, smoking sausages was a good way to preserve meat. The typical taste of rookworst goes perfectly with the more delicate flavours of the Hollandse pot. Other types of sausage or bacon can be used in stamppot, but pea soup without it is almost unthinkable. That’s why there are also vegetarian versions of rookworst. That way, people who don’t eat meat can also enjoy the soup.
The vocabulary of the ‘Hollandse pot’
To make sure you can talk winter fare with the Dutch, add these words to your vocabulary:
|Hollandse pot/stamppot||A typical category of Dutch food consisting of potatoes, vegetables and meat. Can be compared to hotchpotch/colcannon/mash.|
|Prakken||To crush/mash with a fork (e.g. a potato).|
|Kuiltje jus||A well for a bit of gravy pressed into the top of a plate of stamppot. This then gets mashed into the food.|
|Pureestamper||A kitchen tool used to mash stamppot ingredients together.|
|Stampen||To mash food with a pureestamper.|
|Hutspot||A potato and carrot stamppot.|
|Boerenkoolstamp||A stamppot made of potatoes and kale, often with fried bits of bacon added.|
|Zuurkoolstamp||A stamppot made of potatoes and sauerkraut, sometimes with a bit of apple and raisins added.|
|Rookworst||A smoked sausage often eaten with stamppot and in pea soup.|
|Snert||A pea soup that’s so thick you can stand your spoon upright in it.|