Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Have you ever realized how hard it is to find a split pea soup recipe that’s 100% vegetarian?  (Or, at least one that you would be willing to eat?)  Trust me, it’s a difficult task.

I grew up in a family that treasured making homemade soups and stews on the stove, especially on long Sundays in the winter.  My mom and dad are experts at ham and bean soup, chicken and dumplings, and beef stews.  I grew up loving these comfort foods, but, now that I am back on the meat-free bandwagon, these savory treats are something that I miss out on now. And, although I don’t miss eating the meat, I miss the way these meals made me feel.  There’s nothing better than a nice hot bowl of a filling soup on a cold and dreary day.

I saw this recipe and figured I needed to try it.  Dried split peas at my grocery store run about $2, and I had all the other ingredients on hand.  I think it cost me less than $5 total to make this entire pot of split pea soup-which equaled several days of leftovers and easy to re-heat lunches.  I added the potato to the mix because I like my pea soups particularly thick, and I knew the additional starches from the potato would do just that.  I found that the soup thickened substantially over the course of the next few days, so if you prefer a more watery soup, then I would advise leaving the potatoes out or just adding a bit of water to the mix when you re-heat the soup.

The crispy onion strings added a little bit of extra crunch to the soup, and they were super simple to make as well.  Recently I purchased a box of smoked sea salt, and, let me tell you, the smoky flavor added a whole other dimension to the soup.  I considered this recipe as a major success: cheap, incredibly healthy, and super easy to make.  I hope you like it.


Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Servings: about 8 1-cup servings



For the soup:

1 pound dried split green peas

3 quarts water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 stalks celery, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

2 carrots, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium yellow onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the onion strings:

1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon flour

Salt and pepper, to taste

Smoked sea salt for final garnish, optional



1. For the soup: In a large Dutch oven or saucepan over high heat, bring the peas and water to a boil.

2. Boil the soup, uncovered, for two minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.  (This will dissolve your peas).

4.  After the hour is over, add the oil to a medium skillet over medium-high heat.

5.  Add the celery, carrot, onion, and thyme to the oil and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8-10 minutes.

6. Add the mixture to the Dutch oven, add the bay leaves and potatoes, and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

7.  Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the soup has thickened, about 2-3 hours.

8.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

9. For the onion strings: In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the oil until shimmering.

10.  In a small separate bowl, toss the sliced onions with the flour and salt and pepper.

11.  Add the onions to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are nicely browned and crispy, about 15 minutes or so.

12.  Garnish the soup with the crispy onions and smoked sea salt (if using), and serve immediately.

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine.


February 24, 2011 - 5:57 am

notyet100 - looks so comforting,.

February 24, 2011 - 7:35 am

Lauren at KeepItSweet - I agree that it can be hard to find flavorful vegetarian soups (so many depend on bacon, ham, etc.). This looks delicious, though!

February 24, 2011 - 9:19 am

Eric - Yeah – I’ve found that even canned Vegetable soup is usually made with chicken stock. Whenever I make my own vegetarian soups, I usually start with homemade vegetable stock so that the flavors intensify a bit. I have to try the smoked sea salt – sounds yummy!

February 24, 2011 - 12:27 pm

natalie (the sweets life) - yum! just last week i made split pea soup…loved it! I looked for a vegetarian version but ended up adding bacon to mine. i’ll try yours with potatoes next time!

February 25, 2011 - 7:11 am

branny - I’ve made a couple of vegetarian split pea soup recipes and by far my favorite is when I add 1 T of yellow curry powder to the mix. Just amazing. Be sure to try it next time!

February 25, 2011 - 2:42 pm

Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking - Mmm, I love split pea soup and you’re right, there’s no better cure for a cold day than a steaming bowl of something warm like this. It looks delicious, Shanon! Thanks for sharing.

February 26, 2011 - 4:10 pm

Emily - Delicious! I added some garlic and some curry powder as well.

March 7, 2011 - 9:09 am

Monsiuer - Sweet, thanks for the recipie. One trick I picked up from the a scandinavian pea soup recipie is to balance the taste with some white vinegar and apple jelly, or whatever other fruit jelly you might have.

May 23, 2011 - 5:24 pm

Karin - If you want to have the ‘authentic’ ham flavor added to this soup, you might want to add a packet of the Goya Brand – Artificial Ham Flavoring. It is vegetarian, but it does add the ham flavor that is often in pea soup.

December 20, 2011 - 1:26 am

Audra@The-Baker-Chick - This looks amazing! I’m planning on making this tomorrow for lunch and I couldn’t be more excited. I love it!

December 29, 2011 - 12:20 am

Laura - Yummy. I added Better Than Bouillon Vegan No Chicken Base (about 3 teaspoons) and less salt. About 1/2 tsp of McCormick Mesquite seasoning, 1/4 tsp curry, 1/4 tsp cayenne powder and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Then I put it all into a Pressure Cooker after sauteing the veggies for 25 minutes. Served with thick crust Sour Dough French Bread. OMG to die for. Has a little kick, so if you’re not into spice, I’d leave out the cayenne.

January 9, 2012 - 11:26 pm

Detox – Day 1 | happytummyfast - […] was an okay start. I’m going to do some prep work later tonight to make a split pea soup and kale salad for tomorrow. Or else I’ll be in trouble tomorrow. This entry was posted in […]

January 10, 2012 - 11:25 pm

Detox – Day 2 | happytummyfast - […] romaine lettuce with spinach and water with freshly pressed apple juice, and no mango Lunch: Split pea soup with extra celery and one extra Yukon potato cooked in a crockpot Snack: Banana and roasted […]

March 19, 2012 - 9:40 pm

Tim - Made this tonight. Thanks for the recipe! I’m not vegetarian so I will say the hamhock version is a bit tastier. This WAS really good though, and much healthier.

October 7, 2012 - 7:56 pm

Ep. 18: Ready for Fall « The Foodie Knitter - […] Pumpkin Beer Crockpot Meals: Italian Sausage & Bean dish, need more veggie options Soups: Split Pea, Minestrone Drinks: Lemon-Ginger Echinecea juice, Oatmeal-Raisin […]

October 7, 2012 - 9:02 pm

Lisa - Using / adding “liquid smoke” to the soup helps give it the “ham bone” flavor that is usually missing from a vegetarian bean soup recipe. Approx 1/2 – 1 TBSP should do the trick!

February 17, 2013 - 4:01 pm

Wendee Greene - I’m trying this now…added a smoked chili and will garnish with roasted/salted mushrooms, in lieu of the onions 🙂 Thanks soooo much for the recipe!

March 15, 2013 - 10:23 am

Veggie - Yummie, would love to have a bowl of this righ now!

April 4, 2013 - 10:01 pm

LYDIA - I am a vegetarian and have my own recipe for split pea soup [much like yours!], however, I was looking to update my soup with a new and modern twist – the crispy onions were amazing!! Great idea! I cooked mine in my cast iron skillet. Also, I quickly cooked up some multigrain crostini with parmesan cheese melted on top. Excellent addition! Thank you for taking time to share your recipe!

August 2, 2013 - 6:22 pm

The Omnivore - Those onions look like they’d make ANYTHING taste good! I think I may try them on veggie burgers, saving the soup for when the cold weather returns.

September 25, 2013 - 6:51 pm

Natasha - Just whipped this up – so easy and delicious! Didn’t have any bay leaves so I added more thyme, and a healthy amount of cinnamon, chilli powder, and cumin just for good measure – give it a nice kick a flavor. Thanks for this!

December 17, 2013 - 8:58 am

nancee - thank you

November 6, 2014 - 8:22 am

20 Mouth Watering Vegetarian Soup Recipes - Little Red WindowLittle Red Window - […] Vegetarian Split Pea Soup from The Curvy Carrot […]

November 22, 2014 - 7:00 pm

Andrea - This pea soup is the best we ever had. I’m making a double batch tomorrow Thank you! Amazing