How to Make Split Pea Soup

This is comfort food at its homiest.  The texture is soothing, the flavor is mellow, and it’s so easy to make. You’ll want a pot of this simmering on the stove once a week – it’s great for those busy weeknights where people are coming and going at different times!  And if you skip the Parmesan add the end (totally optional) it’s actually a vegan soup.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Sure, you could add some cayenne or hot sauce.  Sure you could add some corn or diced winter squash, either uncooked with the other vegetables, or cooked towards the end.  Maybe toss in a cup of two of cooked rice or grains at the end.  All would be good.  But the simplicity of this soup just speaks to me.  Though I surely wouldn’t pass up the chance to throw in some leftover vegetables if they were lying around.

Do Split Peas Need to Be Soaked Before Cooking?

The short answer is no, they don’t.  They are a fairly soft legume, so cook fairly quickly. Split peas cook in about an hour and a half, but if you want to shorten the cooking time and have the ability to plan ahead, soaking them in water to cover for several hours can speed up the cooking time.  If you soak them for 24 hours, the cooking time should be reduced to about 45 minutes.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Ingredients in Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

  • Onion, celery, carrots and garlic – these aromatics are sauteed and form the flavorful base of the soup. You can dial up or down the amounts as you wish – these are just guidelines. You can also use shallots or leeks instead of the onions.
  • Thyme – adds a nice herbal note
  • Vegetable broth – I like to use less sodium to control the amount of salt in the soup, but you can use what you have. If you have the option to use homemade vegetable broth or stock, go for it. Your soup will be amazing!
  • Dried split peas – the hero ingredient! And so ridiculously cheap. this whole soup will cost about 5 bucks to make!
  • Grated Parmesan – for sprinkling at the end if you like, but skip it if you don’t have it, and also skip it if you want the soup to be vegan!

This is no doubt a thick and hearty soup. Some people add thickeners to their split pea soup, often in the form of flour or some other binder, but I prefer it without.  If you cook it until the split peas are really tender they will start to fall apart a bit, and that will cause the soup to thicken up on its own.  

If you want a slightly creamier consistency you can put a cup or two into a blender or a food processor and pulse so it crushes and blends together a bit, then stir that back into the pot.  Or, if you have an immersion blender, just place it in the pot at the end and let it run until you have the consistency you like.  

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup: A bowl of this soup on a cold night is the best kind of comfort food around.

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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

If you make your split pea soup a day ahead and refrigerate it, you will see that it will thicken up considerably.  When it’s reheated, it will loosen up again, but still be thicker than when you first made it.  If this is what you were looking for, great.  If it’s too thick, just add some more broth or even water.

Non-Vegetarian Variation on Split Pea Soup

If you aren’t looking for a vegetarian split pea soup you can add some ham to this (and also use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth). Either add chopped cooked ham for the last ½ hour of simmering, or if you prefer to add a ham hock, or other smoked or cured piece of ham, add that when you add the split peas. If you are a vegetarian pretend I didn’t even mention this.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Other Winter Soup Recipes:

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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

A bowl of this (ridiculously inexpensive and satisfying) soup on a cold night is the best kind of comfort food around.
Yield: 6 People
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Diet: Vegetarian


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped carrots
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10 cups less sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • Grated Parmesan to serve (optional)


  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. 
  • Add the broth to the pot along with the split peas and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat so the soup stays at a simmer and cook for about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours, until the split peas are very tender and starting to fall apart. 
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Serve in bowls, sprinkled with Parmesan if desired.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1635mg | Potassium: 952mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 8211IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 3mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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  1. Yummy, I saw someone subbed oregano for marjoram. I ran out of marjoram, used oregano, it was so yummy. My husband loves split pea soup. I’ve tried many recipes and they were all okay. This recipe is the best! My husband wants me to make this one now all the time. Thanks so much for the wonderful satisfying, delicious recipe.

  2. Has.anyone.ever.made.split.pea.soup.withOUT.onions.or.garlic…I.can’…

    1. Try it with a bunch of sauteed leek greens! It will have a nice mild onion-y flavor. Make sure to cook the leek greens very thoroughly so they get soft.

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