What is stamppot‘s origin story, and how did it become a traditional Dutch staple? And the big question: what the heck is it?
When you think of Dutch food, you probably think of cheese (Gouda anyone?) and the giant pancakes you’ve had in those wonderful Dutch pannenkoeken restaurants. But when it comes to traditional meals in the Netherlands, the first thing any Dutchie will reference is stamppot.
Stamppot is a combination of potatoes mashed with one or several vegetables (and sometimes fruits). These vegetable pairings traditionally include sauerkraut, endives, kale, spinach, and turnip greens. This is then usually paired with traditional Dutch sausage. 😋
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 ever! 🙌
To really understand how the dish became such a popular traditional Dutch food, one must look into the past and understand how it came to be in the first place.
It all started in the 1600s when stamppot first started out as a winter dish and has stayed a winter staple for hundreds of years.
It’s called a “winter dish”, because of the meal’s 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. 🥔
Variations of stamppot
There are lots of stamppot recipes in circulation, but here are some of the most popular ones in the Netherlands:
- Boerenkoolstamppot (kale stamppot)
- Zuurkoolstamppot (sauerkraut stamppot)
- Hutspot (onion and carrot stamppot)
- Rauwe Andijviestamppot (raw endive stamppot)
- 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. 🤔
One thing is clear, though, the hutspot recipe was discovered when the Dutch resistance succeeded in driving the Spanish away 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
As we know, the Dutch did fight a war with Spain called The Eighty Years’ War. 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 (to mix) and pot (which is, well, pot).
During the Eighty Years’ War, the Spanish tried to capture Leiden in 1573, as the inhabitants stubbornly defended their city and withstood a one-year siege.
Bye bye, Spaniards
On October 3, 1574, 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 Leidens Ontzet
The anniversary of the liberation of Leiden, known as Leidens Ontzet in the Netherlands, is still celebrated every October 3 in Leiden.
Leidens Ontzet is a happy time full of eating hutspot and drinking booze. It’s definitely an event you shouldn’t miss! 🍻
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. Hutspot still remains a symbol of Dutch freedom and victory in the siege of Leiden. 🇳🇱
What do you think of stamppot? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 6 February 2018, and was updated in October 2021 for your reading pleasure.