Stoemp is one of the most popular dishes hailing from Belgium and in some parts of the Netherlands. It consists of mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables and cream. A dash of nutmeg added to it creates a popular side dish with a nutty flavor that is the epitome of comfort food.
Stoemp, pronounced “stump” or “stoomp”, is a typical word of Brabantian dialect. The name of the dish sometimes includes the kind of vegetables inside it. A staple in Belgium cuisine in the wintertime all over the country, this dish is thought of as a satisfying and fulfilling side dish.
What is the origin of stoemp?
Hailing from Brussels since the 19th century, it is made with the ingredients harvested by humble potato farmers. This dish is as humble as its name sounds as it is made by throwing together every imaginable vegetable such as Brussel sprouts, cabbage, leeks, carrots and even celery root. This dish was made for clearing out a fridge of unused food.
Exactly how the very first stoemp recipe originated is not completely clear, yet historians do know that many dishes were prepared in a large cauldron or pot during the Middle Ages.
For many years after the potato first arrived in Europe during the 1500’s, they were thought to be unholy and unsuitable for normal human consumption. Fried potatoes have been a part of Belgian cuisine for centuries and are used in numerous Belgian dishes. Stoemp provided excellent nutrition to people at a very inexpensive price during times when food was scarce.
Stoemp is usually served alongside sausages, fried bacon, eggs or boudin. The various types of vegetables are added to stoemp to bring about different taste sensations.
What are the variations of stoemp?
Stoemp is the richer Brussels variant of the stamppot dish and is also known as hutspot or hutsepot. Since potatoes were not introduced to the Netherlands till the mid-eighteenth century, after the discovery of South America, stoemp was more like a pulpy type of soup mixed with grain, vegetables and meat.
These dishes all evolved as a direct result of food rationing during World War II. Fresh meat in particular was difficult to come by during the 19th century, and it was quite normal for households to remake leftovers, especially potatoes, into tasty meals. Corned beef, which is made by adding saltpeter to beef, was usually the staple meat seen during this time.
Today, stoemp can be found in numerous Belgian restaurants, but it is also traditionally made at home to complement a main dish. Belgians prefer to eat stoemp alongside sausages, but it is also often served as an accompaniment to chicken, pork, lamb, and even meatballs. Like in most mash, butter and cream are often added to make the it a lot more heartier.
Tips and tricks
If the bacon is fried first, the drippings can be used to fry the leek, onion and garlic mixture garnering an even richer flavor.
Use a starchy type of potato like russet for a lighter and fluffier texture.
Always wash the leek before cooking, as trhe leaves hold a tremendous amount of sand.
Stoemp is a dish where many vegetables can be hidden. Stoemp, like its variants across the pond, all originated in countries known to have a large number of gloomy days. It is deemed to be real pub food, there to provide solace after a long day of rainy clouds that just wouldn’t disappear.
- 3 lb potatoes (starchy)
- ½ lb leek , cut into rings
- ½ lb cabbage (or kale)
- ½ lb Brussels sprouts
- ¼ lb carrots , diced
- ¼ lb celeriac (celery root), cut into pieces
- 1 onion
- 3 shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 oz. smoked bacon , diced
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 juniper berries , crushed
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 sprig savory
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup butter
- Wash the cabbage, remove the thick veins and cut the cabbage leaves into small pieces.
- Also clean the Brussels sprouts by removing the outer leaves and cutting them into 4.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the cabbage and Brussels sprouts for 15 minutes. Drain them in a colander. Set aside.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into small dice.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the potatoes for 25 minutes with a bay leaf, ½ teaspoon of nutmeg and 3 tablespoons (40 g) of butter. Drain them in a colander. Set aside.
- Finely chop the shallots, onion and garlic together.
- In a large Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons (30 g) of butter and brown this finely chopped mixture over low heat and covered. Add the 2 remaining bay leaves, carrots, celeriac, leek, juniper berries, savory, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Mix well, cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Then deglaze with the chicken broth and cook until all the vegetables are nice and tender. Then remove the juniper berries, the thyme sprig, the savory sprig, and the bay leaves.
- While the vegetables cook, heat a pan over medium to high heat and fry the bacon cubes without burning them, then drain the fat.
- Then add the potatoes, cabbage and Brussels sprouts to the pan of cooked vegetables and coarsely mash them using a potato masher.
- Add the cream, mustard, salt and pepper, ½ teaspoon of the remaining nutmeg, 2 tablespoons (30 g) of butter, bacon, and parsley.
- Mix everything well and reheat.
- Serve with sausage and black bread.