Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

4.91 from 11 votes

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A bowl of this (ridiculously inexpensive and satisfying) split pea soup on a cold night is the best kind of comfort food around.

Two bowls of Vegetarian Split Pea Soup topped with Parmesan.

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 when people are coming and going at different times! I like a weeknight soup with some super easy garlic bread. And if you skip the Parmesan at the end (totally optional), it’s actually a vegan soup.

It’s also a nice vegetarian and vegan-friendly soup to think about during the holidays (and also see this big old list of vegan Thanksgiving recipes!).

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup in a green pan.

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

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Ingredients

  • Onion, celery, carrots, and garlic – These aromatics are sautéed 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. Also, skip it if you want the soup to be vegan.
Woman scooping Vegetarian Split Pea Soup into a white bowl.

Variations

  • Make it extra creamy: This is no doubt a thick and hearty soup. 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.
  • Additions: Sure, you could add some cayenne or hot sauce. Yes, 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 or 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.
  • For meat-eaters: 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). Add chopped cooked ham for the last ½ hour of simmering. Or, if you prefer, add a ham hock or another smoked or cured piece of ham when you add the split peas. If you are a vegetarian, pretend I didn’t even mention this.
Spoon in a bowl of Vegetarian Split Pea Soup.

How to Make Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

  1. Sauté the aromatics: All you have to do is sauté the onions, celery, carrots, thyme, and garlic in some olive oil. Cook them for 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Simmer: Pour the broth into the pot. Add the bay leaf and the split peas, then bring it all to a simmer together. You will need to simmer the soup for about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Check the split peas to make sure they are completely tender.
  3. Serve: Serve hot and sprinkle with Parmesan (if you’re not vegan).

FAQs

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. 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. When you soak them for 24 hours, the cooking time should be reduced to about 45 minutes.

How long does it take to cook split peas?

You may be surprised by how long it takes to cook the split peas in this recipe: I recommend cooking the split peas from dried for one and a half hours. If this feels too long for you, one great way to reduce the cooking time is by soaking them.

Can you make split pea soup without meat?

Yes, it is totally possible to make split pea soup without meat! The meat doesn’t even require a substitute because the soup is naturally delicious with just the vegetables. Leaving out any meat products allows the split peas and seasonings to really shine!

Storage and Reheating

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. Vegetarian split pea soup will last for about 5 days in the fridge.

It can also be frozen for up to 6 months. Make sure to leave some space in the soup container when you seal it up, as the soup will expand a bit when it freezes.

What to Serve With Meatless Split Pea Soup

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup in bowls on wood table.

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4.91 from 11 votes

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

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

Ingredients 

  • 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
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • Grated Parmesan (to serve; optional)

Instructions 

  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, thyme, 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 bay leaf and 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.

Notes

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.
Storage and Reheating
  • 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. Vegetarian split pea soup will last for about 5 days in the fridge.
  • It can also be frozen for up to 6 months. Make sure to leave some space in the soup container when you seal it up, as the soup will expand a bit when it freezes.

Nutrition

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
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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9 Comments

  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.

    1. A few of these reviews mention marjoram which is not mentioned in the recipe. All I see is thyme. Also there is a picture of a bay leaf in the soup which is also not present in the recipe…please advise.

      1. I’m not sure why people are mentioning marjoram as the main herb, though it would certainly be a good option! The bay leaf is in there now, apologies for leaving that out of the ingredient list!

  2. Has.anyone.ever.made.split.pea.soup.withOUT.onions.or.garlic…I.can’t.eat.them…
    I.can.eat.leek.GREENS.only.
    Thanks…
    (Sorry.for.the.”.’s?…My.spacebar.isn’t.working.and.new.laptop.has.not.arrived.

    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.