Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe

Many of you were enthusiastic about the lentil soup recipe I posted a few weeks back. Today's split pea soup recipe is similar in spirit. It's a delicious, healthy, textured soup made from an impossibly short list of ingredients. No ham hocks in this version, simply green split peas and onions cooked until tender, then partially pureed. The vibrant green soup is finished with a generous drizzle of golden olive oil, a few flecks of lemon zest, and a dusting of smoked paprika to give the soup some smoky depth.

Like the lentil soup, a bowl of this soup delivers many of the same nutritional benefits - a good amount of vegetable protein and plenty of staying power. It is hearty and filling, and even better reheated later in the day. You can find dried split green peas in many natural foods stores, I picked these up in the bin section at Whole Foods Market.

Hope you enjoy the soup, and for those of you who have never tried split peas, this might be the time to give them a go! Also, for those of you who are curious about what is on the horizon - I'm going to share a new cookbook profile next week, so keep your eyes peeled for that :)...

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe

I thought about throwing a couple handfuls of small broccoli trees into this soup (a few minutes before doing the puree), spinach would be great as well. You can use a vegetable stock if you like in place of the water. I've mentioned before that I like Rapunzel Herb Bouillon with Salt (available at many stores), I use about 1/2 of one cube in a soup like this to kick things off - it makes a nice, light but flavorful broth.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups dried split green peas, picked over and rinsed
5 cups water
juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve the zest)

a few pinches of smoked paprika
more olive oil to drizzle

Add olive oil to a big pot over med-high heat. Stir in onions and salt and cook until the onions soften, just a minute or two. Add the split peas and water. Bring to a boil, dial down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through (but still a touch al dente). Using a large cup or mug ladle half of the soup into a bowl and set aside. Using a hand blender (or regular blender) puree the soup that is still remaining in the pot. Stir the reserved (still chunky) soup back into the puree - you should have a soup that is nicely textured. If you need to thin the soup out with more water (or stock) do so a bit at a time. Stir in the lemon juice and taste. If the soup needs more salt, add more a bit at a time until the flavor of the soup really pops.

Ladle into bowls or cups, and serve each drizzled with olive oil and topped with a good pinch of smoked paprika and a touch of lemon zest.

Serves 4 to 6.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Wow. Looks beautiful, easy, and delicious. Will make this and the curried egg salad for my next brunch.


This looks like it should have a much longer ingredients list to it - it must be all the different textures!

I've using a lot of smoked paprika recently - it seems to slot in nicely where I might once have used chorizo or pancetta


Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been looking for a good vegetarian split pea soup recipe for quite some time now, but none of them have been very good. I can't wait to try yours!

Mrs. Mordecai

Looks fantastic - cant wait to try this (or anything lentil based).

Heidi - is there an easy way to add this to my Tastebook ? or is it just selected recipes that I can get (so sorry of this is a stupid question - I might have missed a big button somewhere).

King of Curries

This looks great - can't wait to try it!

Toasted sesame oil is also tasty drizzled on split pea soup.


I love vegetarian split pea soup, expecially with curry powder added. Yum.


Hi Heidi,
This looks perfect for the season! And just yesterday I found some forgotten split peas in the pantry.
I enjoyed the lentil soup as well - it reminded me of one of my favourite tuscan soups made with beans, collards and flavourful mushrooms. Simple foods are such a joy!

Thanks for the nutritious food and beautiful photos!


i just got smoked paprika a few months ago, and i have been slipping it into everything! i'm not a fan of lentils, but this looks right up my alley!


Looks great! I have a sad little bag of lentils hiding out in my pantry, so I'll check out your recent post for lentil soup.


It's time for lunch here in Mexico! Now I know what am I going to cook. It's still winter, soup season! :-)


I am crazy for lentils right now -- perhaps it's the chilly weather, or perhaps it's that I'm dabbling in veganism and need all the help I can get! I use a lot of smoked paprika -- I find that the smoke flavor adds a complexity that meat eaters probably get from the meat. Not the same of course, but it certainly adds depth. I hadn't thought of lemon and its zest for a lentil soup -- but I bet it really brightens things up. Can't wait to try this.


Sorry, I meant split peas! I was envisioning split peas....


Great looking soup. Instead of using cubed bouillon, I use the water left over from cooking chick peas. Usually I cook them with an onion, a garlic clove or two, black peber corns and a bay leaf. The result is a lightly flavored vegetable stock, and it freezes well, too.


This would be nice with those olive oil crackers of yours.


the olive oil swimming on top looks amazing! I made something similar last month .. only I found that the soup was a wee bit powdery in texture coz the dried legumes were not soaked enough. Adding spinach sounds great .. will try that this time around!


I've been adding a squirt of agave nectar to my bean soups lately -- a nice balance for the hot pepper I put in everything.


Liking this a lot! The lentil soup was a big hit and this will bee too, I'm sure!


This looks amazing... tried and commented on the lentil soup and loved it... going into Liverpool tomorrow (I live in the UK) and will pick up the ingredients... I'll let you know how I get on

Cliff Gillies

Mmm...split pea soup & I'll try your vegetable stock recommendation!


Mmmmm, I've been wondering how to make a vegan split pea soup with full flavor, now I have one :-)

If you're vegetarian, you'll have a complete and much higher protein if you balance 1 cup of milk to 1 cup of peas (so says Ellen Buchman Ewald, author of Recipes for a Small Planet). Cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream would do it, as well and add cultures to aid digestability and prevent flatulence :-)


Alicia Kelso

Sorry, I meant to say 1/2 cup peas or beans to 1 cup of milk or dairy product. Maybe soy would be good or even better.

I'm hypoglycemic, so high quality protein is important.

Alicia Kelso

Hey HeidiHi!

I have a close friend who LOVES split pea (as do I) - and it's an OMG moment when I make split pea with garlicky croutons (per your Dad's garlic bread!). Thanks for this version - I really prefer a vegetarian version to the hammy/bacon thing. YUM!!!

Kris Kendrick

Heidi, the split pea soup looks tantalizing. One question, though: I have always read not to ever add salt to legumes before they are cooked soft because it hinders the cooking process. It seems to be the case in my experiments, with split peas being the most difficult to break down. Possibly the split peas we have here are especially hard, I don't know. Can you comment? I'm drooling to make this soup!

Please keep the very simple, down-to-earth recipes coming; they are wonderful!



Yum! I always loved split pea soup as a kid (yes, I was a weird one) but haven't had it in years since it always has ham in it. Can't wait to try this version!


Man, who would have thought there would be another awesome, simple, and "off the beaten path" of a classic standby! The smoked paprika sounds like a great addition!

I just recently made the non-vegetarian- but-easily-convertible split pea soup from the Recipes from Home cookbook
I loved their technique of combining stock, peas, bay leaf, ham hock (with or without) and mint - simmering for an hour or so then puree as desired But it gets better...then they combined butter, celery and onions to soften then added a cup of dark beer to deglaze the pan then cook down to half - that mixture is also pureed and mixed in with the soup. Finally it's all topped off with more mint (it goes oregano-y in this soup), and a dash of sherry vinegar and dijon mustard.

Thanks for the great recipe!


Seriously, *how* do you make photos of soup look so amazing? It boggles the mind.

I love split pea soup and have been trying to settle on an all-veggie version. I especially like the sprinkling of smoked paprika, because I firmly believe that smoked paprika makes everything better and have declared it the official spice of winter 2007/08.

- Us vs. Food

Us vs. Food

This soup looks so delicious, and I'm happy that the recipe looks easy to make. Thanks!

made healthier

I've been making a vegan split pea for my cafe for ages that people swear should take me all day to make. i love the simplicity of this recipe! mine is very similar with a few exceptions. gorgeous photo.


Can't wait to try this simple recipe. The photo is gorgeous, you can almost taste it!


This looks SOOOOO delicious! I just ordered the Rapunzil Herb Bouillon and can't wait to try it. I ordered two pkgs, to take advantage of the shipping. I also read the lentil soup recipe. Can I substite yellow lentils for the black ones? I just bought a 4 pound bag of yellow lenitls and need to use them up. My husband and I are trying to lose weight, so I am always looking for recipes that are filling, healthy, nutritious and full of flavor. I have all your cookbooks and LOVE them! You are so original and creative. The food looks great and tastes even better. Thank you Heidi.


This soup looks delicious. I LOVE PEAS! I received a beautiful brown soup crock for Christmas and have been waiting for just the right recipe to serve in this piece of pottery.

I also just picked up your Super Natural Cooking at Barnes & Noble. Can't wait to start cooking...

Angela Roberts

Mmmm looks delish! :D


This would be just what my hubby was asking for. He's been having pea soup cravings he says...interesting ;-)


I'm always so excited when you post a bean or legume recipe. My husband and I really enjoyed your lentil soup. I'm sure this will be a good new recipe for our bean/legume files. Thanks.


I made this soup last night (loving split peas right now) and the lemon zest really does add an extra "je ne sais quoi" brightness to the soup. I let my split peas soak for about an hour before hand and boy do they soak up that liquid! The cooking time was the same tho, perhaps even a little bit longer.
I did have to flavour with more salt than listed, a bouillon cube plus pinches (all added after the peas were cooked. Somewhere I heard salt prevents the peas from softening during cooking?).
I added spinach as well, which didn't quite purée with a hand blender but did add attractive green flecks through out the soup. Definitely a keeper!


Your lentil soup was so amazing, it is a mainstay in my kitchen. This soup looks just wonderful also. Will be trying it this weekend.


WOW! I have been looking for a good vegetarian split pea soup recipe for all of my life! I don't like ham or bacon in my split pea soup and always wondered why everyone had to include it! Thanksss!


Irresistible, that what i can say
Thank you for the recipe ,


King of Curries - I am actually working with Tastebook to add a feature where you would be able to add (certain) recipes to your Tastebook by clicking on a little icon (in the way you might add a link to

Maryam - I love the sesame oil idea!

Rachel - I don't typically have a problem but I also think that the lentils I get have good turnover in the sense that they haven't been sitting in the bins for years. If you're worried you can always season after the lentils or split peas are cooked.

Elizabeth - I have a yellow split pea recipe coming your way soon. You could use them here or in the lentil soup recipe no problem, they taste much less pea-like to me than then green ones.

Marie - Glad you liked it!


I made this last night for my husband (I am fasting presently), and he liked it enough to get stuffed! I added the broccoli but also had cubed rutabaga before blending. Very nice. I don't have smoked paprika, only the regular stuff, but the spice did something really nice to the flavour.

Josephene Kealey

Hi Heidi! Recently added your blog to my iGoogle homepage - love your blog, photos, and writing - especially being a strict vegetarian / border-line vegan.

On that note, I have always been left without an appetite when considering traditional split pea soup with all that ham in it - and even without - it always seemed oversalted and bland.

Until seeing this, the only split pea soup I would eat is a pretty yummy version that Trader Joe's makes - looks like I'll be trying my own though now with your recipe. WOW - it really looks delicious!
PS Can't wait for the yellow lentil soup posting!


A friend passed along your site about a week ago, and I decided to give this recipe a try tonight. It is fabulous!


Seems like my last few Sunday's have started a new ritual - making one of your soups for the week. I am amazed at how much flavor comes from 7 ingredients! Yummmmmm - keep 'em coming!


Thanks so much for this recipe. I just made it tonight and it was a great accompaniment to such a chilly & windy evening. I used a variety of lentils for additional texture. just lovely-


Hi Heidi,

I am a long time reader and fan, though I have never posted before. I just wanted to share that I made this soup tonight and loved it. I made one alteration in that I added green garlic to the onions and used the stems as garnish. It turned out delicious!

Thanks for all the great recipes and photos.

Maureen in Oakland

Maureen in Oakland

As much as I've always loved pea soup with ham hocks, I have to admit that I'm not a fan of the occasional gristle that happens onto my palate. This is a beautiful, elegantly simple recipe Heidi. But I will also admit that after reading through the post and thinking about other gristle-elimination possibilities, it hit me: Split Pea Soup with Prosciutto.

John at Dalmatian Cooking

Your soup looks stunning and so yummy.
I tried a slip-pea soup this winter but not a vegan one, mine has smoked bacon in it:
The olive oil in yours seems so soften the texture of the soup.


It's my second time posting, although i've been a fan for a while now..

I love split pea soup, and your recipe is wonderful, but i always find a nice amount of fresh coriander improves and enhances the flavours. Try it :)


Thanks to everyone who reports back after trying a recipe like this in their own kitchen. I love hearing about how it turned out for you, and the little tweaks you make based on your personal preferences. :) -h


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