Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

A delicious, simple vegetarian split pea soup made from an impossibly short list of ingredients. Seriously, just five!

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

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. Seriously, just five! No ham hocks in this version, simply green split peas and onions cooked until tender, partially pureed, seasoned and flared out with toppings.
A Really Great Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Like many lentil soups, this one 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.
A Really Great Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup: Finishing Touches

I like to finish each bowl 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. If you have scallions or toasted nuts on hand (pictured), great! Toss some on as well.

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! 


A number of you had great suggestions for tweaks and variations in the comments. Here are a couple that stood out.

Renae took the soup in a more herb-forward direction. "This soup is divine. I added fennel and sage to give it a warmer texture. Used almond milk to thin it out while blending."

Jesper noted, "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 pepper corns and a bay leaf. The result is a lightly flavored vegetable stock, and it freezes well, too."

I like Christine's style, "I like to add a few garnishes like chopped fresh marjoram, oregano, thyme and a good dash of hot sauce! Sometimes a swirl of hot mustard is great too."

More Lentil Soup Recipes

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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

3.83 from 239 votes

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, or favorite bouillon. I sometime use about half 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 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups dried split green peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 5 cups water, plus more to finish
  • juice of 1 lemon (reserve the zest)
  • To finish: a few pinches of smoked paprika, olive oil, toasted almonds, and/or, scallions
  1. 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). 

  2. 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 - there are times I need to add up to 3 1/2 cups extra.

  3. Stir in the lemon juice and taste. If the soup needs more salt (likely), add more a bit at a time until the flavor of the soup really pops.

Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


I'll try this, but I'm dubious about "2 large onions, chopped." I recently tried a soup that called for "5 large onions, chopped, or 2 cups," and after I'd chopped 2 large onions I had more than 2 cups! The juice of one lemon from my tree is about 3/4 cup. That seems like a lot. Do I really want 2 cups of chopped onions for this recipe, and 3/4 cup lemon juice?


    Hi! Yes - the amount of onions is correct. But, that is quite a lot of juice to get from a single lemon. Congrats! I'd go with more like 1/4 cup. But its a soup, add the lemon juice until it tastes good and balanced to you, and be sure to season well with salt. xx!

    Heidi Swanson

I'm not sure if I missed part of the instructions but my peas are taking much longer than 20 minutes to cook. Any one else experience this? Any advice?


    Hi Christine - sometimes older beans (or pulses) take longer to cook. My advice is to just keep going.

    Heidi Swanson

My dad and I made this soup a bunch of times in the year before he passed, nearly ten years ago. He loved your blog, and this soup, which lives on in my repertoire and gives me fond memories of that last cozy winter with my Pops. Thank you, Heidi!


    This is what I hope for when I put a recipe out there. Thanks for the note Heather. Now I'll think of your dad when I make this soup as well.

    Heidi Swanson

We really enjoyed this split pea soup. To pack even more punch I served it with fresh parsley and some coconut bacon.


This is good, just as written. I add some chopped carrots, celery and garlic to the onions in step 1. Sometimes I add some caraway seeds or sage or rosemary. Kids like it with sliced, lightly browned hot dogs. What could be more versatile????


Just made it - delicious!! I added some carrots, potatoes, a dash of chilli and rosemary and some garlic.. the most warming tasty soup ever.


    Thanks Paul!

    Heidi Swanson

It was very good! My family is too conservative (as regards taste) so I didn't use the paprika, the lemon or the almonds (plus they're extremely expensive where I live in Argentina). But all the rest was awesome. I just added 3 spoons of milk at the last minute. Thanks!


Very comforting, healthy soup! I like to add a few garnishes like chopped fresh marjoram, oregano, thyme and a good dash of hot sauce! Sometimes a swirl of hot mustard is great too.


    Love the hot mustard idea Christine!

    Heidi Swanson

Thank you for this! I am still eating soup as I write, and I rarely leave reviews, but I'm too excited to wait! I didn't need to add any extra water. I did add the pinch of smoked paprika suggested, and a dash of black pepper. I usually struggle with finding pea soup either boring, overly complex in flavor, and/or too sweet. This was perfect. The simplicity and the addition of lemon juice are brilliant. And my toddler loves it. I'll be making this again.

Amanda Austin

    Thanks Amanda! So glad you enjoyed it. xx!

    Heidi Swanson

I wouldn’t change a thing. Absolutely perfect. I chose your recipe because I wanted to have as few ingredients as possible and you didn’t let me down. Thank you. With food costs rising daily it seems, it’s nice to find recipes like this. So tired of 20 ingredient dishes that don’t have anything really to define them.


    Thanks Dallas!

    Heidi Swanson

Try adding cut Orkra in any curried soups Serve with dash of lemon Or add pieces of cottage cheese (Paneer)

G Kaushik

I wonder if this is maybe is the same recipe posted on your website about ten years ago, or maybe a variation. Best regards.

Rocio Cocina en Casa

    It's the same recipe!

    Heidi Swanson

I wonder if this is maybe is the same recipe posted on your website about ten years ago, or maybe a variation... I must say that I love it and have been making it for years. I showed my late father your website way back when you first started this blog, he actually found the split pea soup recipe and loved it so much he started making it every week! He’s passed on now and seeing this makes me think of him and of January 101cookbooks meals we shared when he was still with us. Thank you for the good memories!!


    Hi Heather, yes! I might have updated the photos at some point. Thanks for the sweet note, so happy to know this soup made it to your tables. xx, -h

    Heidi Swanson

Cant wait to try.. I am a vegetarian and was so glad to see recipes that are too! Ty

Christine Mott

This soup is utterly spectacular! I substituted frozen sweet peas instead of dried and added a swirl of paprika infused yogurt on top. I think perhaps a glug of tumeric infused oil for leftovers will work, too. Thanks for the brilliant inspirations, as always, Heidi!


    Yes! So glad you liked it. Big yes to paprika yogurt!

    Heidi Swanson

This soup is divine. I added fennel and sage to give it a warmer texture. Used almond milk to thin it out while blending. I’m adding this recipe to my repertoire.


I add carrots and celery to the onions when I make my vegetarian split pea soup. Also I add dried basil for more flavor.

Jane Grey

This is a favorite soup of mine. I would have never thought to add lemon to split pea soup. You are right, the taste does pop! I'd never used smoked paprika... as I said, I just LOVE this soup!

Jane Sherrill

    Thanks Jane - happy to hear it made the jump to your kitchen!

    Heidi Swanson

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

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


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 :)


Heidi, 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

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!


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


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

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


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!


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


Mmmm looks delish! :D


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.


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!


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'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.


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

made healthier

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

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!


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

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


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


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!


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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!


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


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


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


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


This looks great - can't wait to try it! Toasted sesame oil is also tasty drizzled on split pea soup.


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

Wow. Looks beautiful, easy, and delicious. Will make this and the curried egg salad for my next brunch.


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