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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC


Hernkeitto, Finnish Pea Soup


Thursday is the day hernkeitto is traditionally enjoyed throughout Finland and Sweden, where it is dubbed ärtsuppa. In my plant-based version I sidestep the ham hock and celebrate its vegetables. Classically finished with a spoonful of spicy mustard and tender marjoram leaves takes this soup to a higher level. Add a dollop of thick soy yogurt if you like. For a special Nordic meal serve with Finnish barley rieska flatbread, paper-thin chards of Swedish rye sourdough knäckebröd, or a good Danish rye sourdough rugbrød.


Serves 4 to 6

Prep time Overnight soak to peas plus 30 minutes

Cook time 90 minutes


1 pound yellow or green split peas

1 yellow onions, cut in medium dice

1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves only

4 shallots, cut in medium dice or 1 entire leek, sliced in half, rinsed thoroughly, then cut in ¼-inch slices

3 bay leaves

6 allspice berries

2 thin-skinned potatoes, cut in large dice

3 carrots, peeled, cut in ¼-inch slices

2 stalks celery, cut in ¼-inch slices

For yellow peas only, a pinch of saffron threads

½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Spicy brown or Dijon mustard to taste

Shiro (mild, white) miso to taste



Fresh marjoram leaves

Dried chili threads, balled

Thick cultured vegan yogurt


  • Rinse and soak the peas overnight in cool water. Alternatively, add the peas to a 5-quart pot, cover with water by an inch, bring to a rolling boil, and then turn off the heat and steep the peas for an hour.
  • Add water if needed to cover the peas by one inch. Add the bay leaves, onions, shallots or leeks, carrots and celery, and gently simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the thyme and potatoes and cook until the peas are tender and the potatoes are cooked.
  • Remove the allspice berries and bay leaves.
  • Steep the saffron threads in 1 tablespoon of hot water for 10 minutes. Stir the saffron tea into the pot.
  • If you want to creamier texture to the soup, transfer 4 cups of the peas and soup broth to a stand blender, run until smooth, and add back to the pot.
  • Season with white pepper.
  • Serve in warmed bowls, seasoning each bowl with miso and mustard to taste.
  • Garnish with fresh marjoram leaves and chili threads and/or a spoonful of vegan yogurt.

Hernkeitto, Finnish Pea Soup

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