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."

And if you're looking for more lentil or pulse based soups, I really love this Coconut Red Lentil Soup, and this Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

3.82 from 235 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!

Post Your Comment


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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