The Delightful Dutch Dish

How one can cook oneself back into local reality

Carrot soup April 2, 2010

Filed under: soup,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 17:18
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When I took a closer look at my new cookbook, I noticed that they had a recipe for carrot soup. Which amused me. I don’t think I ever had carrot soup. I’ve had carrots in various different ways, but I don’t remember soup being one of them. If you don’t count pumpkin soup that needs a bit of carrot to add something extra to the flavour. So, I thought it would be nice to make carrot soup. And I would let my family enjoy my new cookbook to. So I took buses and a train and travelled for 2 hours to meet them. Of course I made sure I had the recipe. I wasn’t going to carry around the entire cookbook for one lousy recipe.

The next day I went to the shops to look for one of the ingredients. It was called ‘sereh’, or ‘citroengras’ in Dutch, but I think you’ll find it more helpful to know that it’s called cymbopogon, or lemon grass. Really, cymbopogon. That must be one of the greatest names for a herb/vegetable/thingy, ever! I don’t even know how to pronounce that! Anyway, I asked in two supermarkets that I payed a visit. They stared at me blankly. ‘Lemon grass?’ they’d say (lemon grass being the literal translation of citroengras), and I’d confirm, ‘Yup, lemon grass’. One girl asked her boss, the other didn’t even bother, in the end both supermarkets didn’t have it. Which must ultimately be because they weren’t Albert Heijns. I’m sure that the Albert Heijn would’ve had lemon grass. If only because they sell a stupid cookbook that demands you cook something with lemon grass in it. Because they didn’t even know what lemon grass was, I had to think of something else. Can you just leave out lemon grass? I asked myself. Is it a key ingredient? And I pondered about the thing while I ransacked the sweets rack in the supermarket. It must be. You wouldn’t want lemon grass in your carrot soup if it wasn’t a key ingredient, right? But there was no lemon grass to be had. And since I myself didn’t really have a clear idea of what this mystic lemon grass was (or tasted like) I assumed it was something ‘lemony’. And I thought of all the lemony things that were to be had. First of all, lemons. Should I add some lemon juice to my soup? Or some lemon zest? I mean, anything with lemon zest is great. In the end I settled for lemon balm. Which had just come up after a long winter. I ended up picking some young fresh lemon balm leaves, cut them up and put them in my soup. I have no idea if it completely ruined it or not. I’ll have to make the soup sometime again, this time only with lemon grass, and hopefully I will remember what my first attempt tasted like.

I liked it. The carrot soup was soft, easy on the taste buds, not too spicy. But it might have been a little boring, even. And that’s not really good. So maybe it will be incredibly exciting with lemon grass in it? In general it wasn’t really something I’d make anytime soon. Because it wasn’t exactly knocking my taste buds’ socks off. And anything that does that is a must repeat for me. I love knocking my taste buds into outer space with something good. I love the extra terrestrial experience and sensation that evokes.


400 gr carrot, diced (the big ones, winterpeen)

lemon grass

garden cress

100 ml sour cream

1 shallot, cut up

1 clove of garlic, cut up

500 ml chicken broth

Fry shallots and garlic for 3 minutes in oil. Add carrot and fry for another minute. Don’t turn the heat too high, or the carrots will burn. Cut up the lemon grass in length. Pour the broth over the shallots etc, add the lemon grass. Bring to a boil and boil for about 20 minutes). Remove lemon grass and use a stick blender to mash the soup. Remember: once blended the soup will be thicker and you don’t want your pot to explode on your new clothes, unless they’re orange and it won’t show, so turn down the heat and make sure the soup isn’t actively boiling. Use half of the sour cream and stir it through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put a spoon of sour cream in the plates, add the soup, and add some freshly cut off garden cress. Serve with a baguette and butter.

How Local?

Well, everything was extremely local, especially since I didn’t use lemon grass, which is probably from God knows where. Everything was Dutch, but from the supermarket. Except the lemon balm, which was about 50 yards from the kitchen window.


Hutspot December 11, 2009

Filed under: cooking,main course,meat,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 22:30
Tags: , , ,

Today, I had a friend over and I decided to serve something typically Dutch. My friend loves ‘stamppot’, including ‘hutspot’. I myself hate some of the stamppot-variants, but I definitely love, love, love hutspot. Why? Because it’s elegant, it’s whimsical and it doesn’t have you chew on rotten vegetables (I’ll get to that, though I promise I won’t make it).

Hutspot is mashed potatoes, carrot and onion. That’s it basically. You cook the potatoes, carrot and add the onion halfway through the cooking. You get rid of the water, and you mash the whole load. You add some butter or cream cheese for a bit of a creamy taste and that’s it. Super easy! Really, anyone can do it, so that’s probably why it’s the nation’s favourite dish.

I hadn’t had hutspot in ages. Because right now I’m a grown up, I cook my own meals. And somehow my mother has moved on to another level of cooking, so whenever I’m there, she’s not serving hutspot. Which is fine, because I can make my own. I just hardly ever get ’round to it. But I did today. I’d forgotten how much I love the taste. The carrots and the potatoes, and then the onions. Just perfect. Right next to the blotchy mashed mess I served a pepper steak. And boy, did that go well with the hutspot. Wow!

The carrots I used for the hutspot are called ‘winterpeen’ or ‘winterwortel’ in Dutch. I’m not sure what that translates into. If you decide to make hutspot, though, I will advise you to use a type of carrot that’s best cooked. We have ‘bospeen’ here as well, you buy them with the green still on and a big bunch of them. You can eat those raw and they’re very juicy and fresh. Winterpeen however is a bit drier and has more structure, oh and they’re a lot bigger. They’re not at all nice and tasty to eat when they’re not cooked. These kinds of carrots keep their taste better when they’re cooked and they’re sweeter, too. Besides that they don’t end up as pulp straight away, so they don’t get entirely lost in the mashed potatoes. Though I guess other types of carrots would do just fine.

4 medium sized potatoes per person
1 winterpeen (big carrot) per person
1-2 onions in total (add more if you want, they’ll be cooked so you cannot mess anything up)
1 tablespoon of butter (or cream cheese)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes, carrots and onions for about 20 minutes. Drain the water. Mash the potatoes, carrots and onions, you don’t have to be thorough, a little structure can be nice. Stir butter through the mashed potatoes. Serve.

How local?
potatoes: 25-50 km
carrots: 2,5 km
onions: 2,5 km
butter/cream cheese: 50 km?
pepper steak: no idea, hopefully/probably Dutch