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

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3.77 from 223 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 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.5 stars


I add carrots and celery to the onions when I make my vegetarian split pea soup. Also I add dried basil for more flavor.4 stars

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!5 stars

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!

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