What is the history of stamppot, and how did it become a traditional Dutch food? And the big question: what on earth is stamppot? 

When you think of Dutch food, you probably think of cheese (Gouda and Edam) and the giant pancakes you’ve had in those wonderful pancake restaurants scattered all around Amsterdam and other parts of the Netherlands. I’m curious as to whether you’ve ever asked a Dutch person to name a traditional Dutch food. Well, no need asking really, because the answer they’ll give you is “Stamppot.”

I’m pretty sure you’ve seen a lot of people (mostly Dutch natives) in the Netherlands eating a traditional Dutch dish made from a combination of potatoes mashed with one or several vegetables (and sometimes fruits). These vegetable pairings traditionally include sauerkraut, endive, kale, spinach and turnip greens.

Stamppot Through the Years

The endurance and popularity of the stamppot are truly mind-boggling. The dish is said to be one of the oldest, and yet still one of the most popular Dutch dishes. To really understand how the stamppot became such a popular traditional Dutch food, one must look into the past and understand how it came to be in the first place.

Originating sometime in the 1600s, stamppot first started out as a very popular Dutch winter dish and has been rightly so for hundreds of years. “Winter dish”, because of its warmth and ability to immediately fill you up. It was such a staple food during the harvest months because in this period, potatoes were available in abundance and many hungry farmers could be filled up quickly, and cheaply as well.

What is Stampot exactly?

There are lots of stamppot recipes in circulation, but here are some of the very popular ones in the Netherlands:

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  1. Boerenkoolstamppot (kale stamppot)
  2. Zuurkoolstamppot (sauerkraut stamppot)
  3. Hutspot (onion and carrot stamppot)
  4. Rauwe Andijviestamppot (raw endive stamppot)
  5. Preistamppot (leek stamppot)

Although the Dutch and their affinity for mashing their food is one that’s quite legendary, I have to admit that no one knows who invented the stamppot or how it came to be. One thing is clear though, the hutspot’s recipe was discovered when the Dutch resistance succeeded in driving away the Spanish from Leiden. It’s quite a legend in its own right and if you don’t mind, I’d very much like to tell you about it.

Legend of The “Free” Hutspot

stamppot in the netherlands
Hutspot. Image: Rool Paap/Flickr

 

So as we know, the Dutch did fight a war with Spain called “The Eighty Years’ War.” (Difference Between Holland and The Netherlands). This war was a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces of what are today the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, as well as the French region of Hauts-de-France against King Philip II of Spain. For those of us who don’t know, the word “hutspot” is derived from the Dutch words “hutsen”, meaning “to mix” and “pot” meaning, well, just “pot.”

Anyway, according to the legend, during the Eighty Years’ War, the Spanish under Francisco de Valdez, tried to capture Leiden in 1573, as the inhabitants stubbornly defended their city and withstood a one-year siege. On October 3, 1574, when the resistance finally succeeded in driving the Spanish away and liberating the city, it is reported that the Spanish soldiers fleeing Leiden left cooked bits of an unfamiliar stew of carrots, meat, onions and parsnips, which the starved inhabitants of Leiden ate up really quickly. Not knowing what to call the unfamiliar dish, they named it “Hutspot”, and it has remained a symbol of their victory till this day.

Stamppot and the Leids Ontzet

The anniversary of the liberation of Leiden, known as “Leids Ontzet” in the Netherlands, is still celebrated every 3rd of October in Leiden and by Dutch nationals everywhere. It is a celebration that has to do with the consumption of a lot of hutspot. It’s definitely one you shouldn’t miss, especially if you’re a lover of mashed potatoes.

While the origins of the Dutch Stamppot may not be very clear, one thing everyone can agree on is that it is a much-loved dish in the Netherlands and the hutspot still remains a symbol of Dutch freedom and victory in the siege of Leiden.

So if you’re visiting the Netherlands, try any type of Stamppot and who knows, you might be hooked for life. Let us know what it’s like in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 6 February 2018, and was updated 25 October 2019 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image: Marcus Meissner/Flickr. 

15 COMMENTS

  1. Your photo looks more like Naakte Kindertjes in Het Gras (Naked Children in the Grass) recipe than one of the stamppot recipes you mentioned. My parents also made brown beans and bacon on those very cold days. We used the bacon fat as gravy on our boiled potatoes. It all got mashed up on our plate because…well, everything gets mashed together, doesn’t it?

    • Blote Billetjes in het Gras is a mix of potatoes, white beans (looks like bare bottoms) and green beans (the grass). The other dish is Bruine Bonen met Spek.

  2. In Ireland we have Irish Stew which is very similar with same ingredients except the ingredients are cut up and not mashed.

  3. […] Stamppot springs from the Dutch tradition of obliterating multiple food groups by mashing them together as a winter comfort food. A sort of mix and mash. Potatoes, vegetables and even fruit are used. You get a great mixture of all flavors because, how could you not when they are all mashed together? It seems like a good way to get kids to eat their veggies. […]

  4. I am Dutch and I have always learned that at the end of the siege of Leiden, the good people of Leiden ate Herring and white bread, Every year in October when they commemorate the end of the siege they eat herring and white brood. There is an old saying that most of the Dutch people will know: Haring en witte brood, Leiden uit de nood.

  5. I am from the US Virgin Islands and we have a very popular dish I am sure is originated from Stamppot due to Denmark once owned the Virgin Islands before the United States. We call our version of Stamppot POTATO STUFFING. This is a delicious dish made with mash potatoes, onions, peppers, raisins and multiple of chopped vegetables with a Caribbean kick to it. Our Potato Stuffing is savory and sweet. Good to know its a big part of our Denmark past.

    • It might be, but this is about a traditional Dutch dish, not a traditional Danish dish. The Dutch are from the Netherlands, not Denmark.

  6. It was always my understanding that stampot originated because of cooking everything in one pot. I grew up on a small boerderij near the village of Bergentheim, Salland, Overijssel during the late 40s and early 50s. There was no electricity nor running water and my mother cooked on a cast iron stove (fueled by peat). In the summer the stove was dismantled, taken to a shed and cleaned thoroughly and stayed there during the warmest weather.
    My mother cooked on a single burner “oliestel”, kerosene stove during this time.
    Hence cooking everything in one pot. We had stampot with any available vegetable and on Saturdays it was “bruine bonen met speak”. We also had “karnemelkse pap”, buttermilk porridge or porridge made from a variety of other grains.
    I still enjoy these dishes occasionally and have introduced them to my family here in Ontario, Canada.

  7. My guess has always been (and it’s only a guess) that most national dishes (i.e. comfort foods) originated by creatively using leftovers.

  8. I made Stampot this evening. We live in the States and mom taught me the one pot method. Her mom taught her to make the different kind. Carrots, onions, was also one she made a lot. Mom said they ate these during the war, wwII, often only the heater to cook on.

  9. Op kostschool kregen wij minstens 1 keer per week HETE BLIKSEM…..
    Afschuwelijk vond ik het. Aardappels en Appelmoes met misterieus vlees. Ik proef ‘t nog, na
    52 jaar….Bah.
    Maar Ik ben gek op Boerenkool en Gelderse worst, Kaantjes en Azijn…Mmmmm

  10. I love stamppot ever since I spent some time in Wageningen, and I make it here in Israel in the winter. Kale is hard to find here but I substitute cauliflower and/or broccoli and it works fine. In the Netherlands, rookworst (smoked sausage) is the traditional accompaniment and I can find some similar sausages in the Russian grocery shops here in Jerusalem.

    One thing is sure – it is quick to make, and really fills you and warms you on a cold, rainy winter night. I’m surprised it is not more widely known.

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