There is a very special tradition on Thursdays in Sweden: Eating pea soup – “ärtsoppa.” I moved here 8 months ago and have been avoiding this tradition ever since. My husband insists that I am never going to be accepted in Sweden if I can’t sit down and eat ärtsoppa like a grown-up, or even a kid… or at all. I can’t even think of it without grimacing!
Today was the day I finally gave in. And it wasn’t bad! My taste buds seem to be adjusting to this Swedish life. And besides, who doesn’t love a filling, cheap, and easy meal?!
The tradition of eating weekly ärtsoppa comes from needing to fill-up the belly for fasting on Fridays and has continued through the Swedish armed forces being served this every Thursday since WWII.
Swedish ärtsoppa is made of yellow peas and usually contains pork and mustard (which some say is the most important part). Crisp hardbread is usually eaten alongside and Swedish (crepe) pancakes, pankakor with jam as dessert (read: reward). Punsch, a traditional sweet liqueur served warm, is the side beverage of choice. The pancakes and jam are sometimes served together with the ärtsoppa, as it is more part of the meal than an actual dessert.
Many restaurants offer ärtsoppa on Thursdays, along with school meals, and work cafeterias. It is also common to eat it at home either homemade or store bought – like many foods in Sweden, it is sold in a plastic tube.
Next time we will make the homemade recipe. If your looking for a way to be more Swedish, try setting aside your Thursday to be Ärtsoppadagen!