My family has been trying to work out my late Dutch grandmother's soup recipe since she lost it to dementia. If you have any ideas on herbs and spices to try to get the taste right we'd really appreciate it.

The soup was thin noodles, shredded chicken, beef meatballs, and finely diced carrot and celery in a light broth. We're pretty sure the meatballs were just salt, pepper, and nutmeg. We're also pretty sure that she'd have made her stock from scratch with the roast chicken carcass being shredded into the rest of the soup.

If this sounds at all familiar I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  • Depending on what type of dementia your grandmother has, you might be able to get her recipes from her -- my grandmother had alzheimers and regressed back to a younger age. Unfortunately, none of us spoke Italian well enough to get good information from her, but if we did, we could've tried talking her into cooking with us. (although keeping an eye on her to avoid burns or cuts)
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 8:12
  • Apart from peasoup ("erwtensoep"), there's really no specific soup Dutch Soup. For soups & broths, parsley, chervil, and mace are common, but in general, there's no "Dutch Cuisine", and no "Dutch Spices" worth mentioning, other than the ones with an Indonesian influence that @joe mentioned. Dutch food was there to make sure you could survive the onslaught of 364 days of rain, and not to be enjoyed ;) Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 8:48

1 Answer 1


I can't say that I'm an expert in Dutch food, but I did live there for a few years (decades ago).

It's entirely possible that the soup really was just salt, pepper and nutmeg in the meatballs. The Dutch for 'soup with meatballs' is 'soep met balletjes', which will help you avoid having to sort through all of the 'Pennsylvania Dutch' recipes out there.

If you recall there being some green flecks in the soup, it's possible that it was finished with parsley or chives, but there's a good chance that most of the flavor was developed in making the stock -- cook down the chicken bones with onions and carrots at the very least.

You might always want to talk to whomever helped your grandmother move when they realized she had dementia -- they might remember some of the spices that she had ... and if she relied on any of the various dutch spice blends. (many of which have an Indonesian influence)

  • Thanks Joe, I'll give it a shot. I think it's been too long for anyone to remember what she had in her cupboards, but the Indonesian influence is a good hint...
    – Laura B
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 8:31
  • 1
    I can second this, the ingredients as the OP writes in the question should be all required for a good Dutch (chicken) soup.
    – user34961
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 14:48

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