Ärtsoppa – Swedish Pea Soup
If it’s Thursday it must be pea soup!
Pea soup and pancakes: a Swedish love story
Pancakes were first mentioned in European literature as early as the 1400s, but it’s likely they existed in Sweden much earlier. They often appeared in old children’s tales, rolled and filled with strawberry or raspberry jam, and topped with sugar or whipped cream.
Pea soup is an equal favorite, first appearing in Swedish literature from the 13th century. It was playwright August Strindberg’s favorite dish; he dubbed it gudamat or the ‘good food’. On a darker note, King Eric XIV’s love of pea soup proved to be his undoing. Legend has it that the king died after eating pea soup laced with arsenic.
The marriage of pea soup and pancakes is said to date back to the 15th century, when Catholic Swedish kitchens served large meals on Thursdays in preparation for the Friday fast. Both pea soup and pancakes were inexpensive and simple to make in large batches, so even when Sweden adopted Lutheranism as its main faith, the soup and pancakes had no problem entering the new dogma. Today the tradition lives on and Thursday remains the day of the week that’s forever associated with this culinary combo.