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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

I love it when comfort food and ‘healthy’ come together in one dish. Like in this full bodied, nutritious vegetarian split pea soup. It’s loaded with vegetables, well seasoned and satisfying. Smooth or chunky. Your choice.

If you are too lazy to chop vegetables (like me), use a food processor for a great shortcut.

two bowls of split pea soup with croutons

This is definitely a hearty soup. The longer you cook it, the thicker it gets. Although the cook time is long, it’s easy to make with minimal hands-on time.

You can easily find all the key ingredients at local grocery stores – split peas, fresh carrots, celery, onions, garlic, dill and vegetable broth. As you can see, the recipe is actually a vegan split pea soup recipe.

How to serve pea soup

Smooth or chunky is a personal preference. I like my peas and veggies really soft – almost disintegrated. But I like to leave some bigger pieces of carrots and celery in the soup. My husband likes the soup puréed and creamy (even though there is no cream in it). Both are possible with a handy immersion blender or blender.

When I have vegetarians and non vegetarians at the table, I will sometimes serve smoky or spicy chopped cooked sausage or ham on the side for the non vegetarians to mix into the soup.

What to serve with pea soup? To me, a hearty pea soup is a stand alone meal served with homemade croutons, biscuits, corn bread or warm crusty bread. And a side salad if you like.

Pea soup cooking methods

The recipe below has instructions for the stove top method. For your convenience, we’ve also added two other cooking methods in the recipe notesinstant pot method and slow cooker method.

All methods are easy, especially when you use a processor to chop the vegetables. The cooking time, of course, is different:

  • The instant pot is quickest (45-50 minutes),
  • then stove top (1.5-2 hours),
  • then slow cooker (4-8 hours)

FAQ – good to know

What are split peas?

Split peas are field peas grown for drying. The two varieties are yellow split peas and green split peas. Once dried, manufacturers remove the husks and split the peas are split at the seam. This allows for faster cooking and no pre-soaking required, although un-soaked peas will take 1.5-2 hours to cook on the stovetop.

Is split pea soup healthy?

Homemade vegetarian split pea soup is loaded with dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. So, yes, it has a lot of nutritional value. Just be careful with canned or restaurant versions as they tend to have a lot a salt, especially if they contain ham. Here are the health benefits of green split peas according to Livestrong.

How can I add flavor to vegetarian split pea soup?

Great seasoning options are smoked paprika, liquid smoke, cumin and herbs such as dill, herbes de provence, bay leaves and thyme. If making a non vegetarian pea soup is an option, add smoky flavor with ham chunks, ham hocks, a ham bone or bacon. And use chicken stock or broth instead of vegetable broth or vegetable stock.

Shortcuts

  • Use a food processor to pulse the vegetables to a small dice. Leave some larger chunks if you like. I do.
  • In the stove top method, you can skip sautéing the vegetables and just dump all the ingredients into the pot to cook. The sauté does help develop flavor though.
  • Make an instant pot split pea soup in less than 1 hour. See instructions in the recipe notes.
  • Use minced garlic from a jar or in frozen cube form instead of fresh garlic.

How to make this vegetarian split pea soup recipe

split peas, onion, carrots, celery, seasonings, dill, garlic
Ingredients: split green peas, onion, dill, carrots, celery, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, bay leaves, garlic
veggies sauteeing in pot
Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Sauté onions for a few minutes, then add carrots, garlic and celery for another few minutes.
pea soup ingredients in pot
Add peas, broth, seasonings and dill. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer for 1.5-2 hours until veggies are soft.
finished split pea soup in pt
Taste and adjust seasonings.
ladle scoop of pea soup over pot
Purée pea soup fully or partially as you like it.
bowl of split pea soup with dill
Serve with additional fresh dill or thyme along with croutons, crusty bread or biscuits.
two bowls of split pea soup p

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Flavoring
    • Add a touch of liquid smoke for a smoky flavor. Or try adding some smoked paprika.
    • Herb options: dill (my fave), thyme, bay leaves, herbes de provence
    • Other seasonings: Worcestershire sauce, cumin, curry powder.
  • Texture
    • Leave the thick soup chunky, purée the soup to a creamy smoother soup or do half and half
  • Make a non vegetarian pea soup
    • Add a leftover ham bone or ham hock for a smoky flavor and bulkier meal. Or chunks of leftover ham.
    • Use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth

Make Ahead

  • To store: Put leftover soup in the fridge in an airtight container, once cooled, for up to 4-5 days. It will thicken in the fridge. Add a bit of broth or water if needed when reheating it on the stove or in the microwave.
  • To freeze: Cool then freeze in an an airtight container or freezer zipper lock bags for up to 4 months.

Other hearty vegetarian soup recipes you might love

two bowls of split pea soup with croutons
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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe

I love it when comfort food and 'healthy' come together in one dish. Like in this full bodied nutritious vegetarian split pea soup. It's loaded with vegetables, well seasoned and satisfying. Smooth or chunky. Your choice. If you are too lazy to chop vegetables (like me), use a food processor for a great shortcut.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 45 mins
Total Time1 hr 55 mins
Course: Main Dish, Soup
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Servings: 6
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil (or half oil, half butter)
  • 1 medium to large sweet onion
  • 3 large carrots, peeled
  • 3 -4 celery ribs, scrubbed
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 7 cups vegetable broth (I use one box plus 3 cups water)
  • 2 cups (390 grams) green split peas (or yellow split peas or mix of the two)

Seasonings

  • 1/3 cup (16 grams) chopped fresh dill
  • 1 -2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste – depends on saltiness of broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • Optional: Note 3

Instructions

  • CHOP VEGETABLES:
    Option #1: Dice carrots, celery and onion into 1/2 inch/1.3cm pieces – and mince the garlic
    Option #2 (shortcut): Cut vegetables into 2 inch/5 cm pieces and pulse them in the processor (this is a big shortcut so my preference!). I process onions in one batch, then carrots, garlic and celery in another. I leave a few larger chunks of carrots and celery to have some vegetables that hold their shape in the finished soup. If you plan to blend the soup into a purée, however, there's no need.
  • COOK ON STOVE TOP: (see Note 1 and 2 for other cooking methods)
    Sauté veggies: Heat oil on medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and sauté 3 minutes. Add celery and carrots and garlic and sauté 4-5 minutes. Shortcut: skip this step (and skip the oil) and just add everything to the pot and cook. Sautéing adds flavor though.
    Add broth and seasonings, then cook: Add peas, broth, water, dill and seasonings to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on medium low (3/10) for 1 1/2-2 hours, until vegetables and peas are soft. If too watery, continue to cook for 15-20 minutes with lid off or partially covering the pot. But note that soup will thicken on standing or in fridge. Remove bay leaf and adjust seasonings to your taste.
  • SERVE: If you like chunkier soup, serve as is. If you prefer creamier soup, blend soup in processor (in batches), blender or with stick immersion blender. Alternatively, do half and half – blend half the soup to creamy, then combine with the unblended chunky half. Serve with croutons, biscuits, a warm crusty loaf bread or cornbread.

Notes

  1. Slow cooker method: Dice vegetables very small for this method e.g. 1/4 inch/0.63cm. Place peas at the bottom, add all other ingredients. Loosen peas at the bottom a bit so they don’t stick. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours. Don’t peek until the end – you lose about 30 minutes of cook time every time you open the lid! Gauge the cook time based on how soft and thick you like the soup. Longer cooking means thicker soup and softer vegetables. Adjust seasonings. Note that soup will thicken as it stands around or sits in the fridge. 
  2. Instant Pot method: Sauté the onions, garlic and veggies for 4-5 minutes (optional but deepens flavors). Add the remaining ingredients. Stir. Set instant pot to High Pressure for 15 minutes. When cooking is finished, do a natural release for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. 
  3. Variations:
    • Flavoring
      • Add a few drops of liquid smoke or 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika for a smoky flavor. 
      • Add some fresh herbs (dill, thyme) or dried herbss (herbes de provence)
      • Other seasonings: 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, cumin or curry powder. 
      • Heat: add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for some heat
    • Make a non vegetarian pea soup
      • Add a ham bone, leftover ham or ham hock for a smoky flavor.
      • Use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth 
  4. Make ahead
    • To store: Put leftover soup in the fridge in an airtight container, once cooled, for up to 4-5 days. It will thicken in the fridge. Add a bit of broth or water if needed when reheating it on the stove or in the microwave.
    • To freeze: Cool then freeze in an an airtight container or freezer zipper lock bags for up to 4 months.
 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1717mg | Potassium: 847mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 6046IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

This vegetarian split pea soup recipe, originally posted in 2016, has been updated with new information, pictures, small recipe tweaks and additional cooking methods.

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2 Comments

  1. I made a variation of this leaving out onion, dill and pepper to accommodate my friend who had all his teeth removed. Carrots were grated and celery was chopped in a food processor. This made everything very small. To further accommodate the eater a small amount of milk was added and it was processed in a Magic Bullet. Then it was heated in a coffee mug in the microwave. The final outcome was a smooth thick drink suitable for anyone with eating problems. He was more than happy with it and wants more made.