Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe

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This Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe is robustly seasoned and richly flavored — trust me, you won’t be missing the ham! With loads of veggies and tender creamy split green peas, this soup is the perfect canvas for dipping a hunk of crusty bread.

Prefer to make Split Pea Soup with ham instead? Try our original Split Pea Soup recipe that uses leftover ham bone or ham hocks.

Overhead image of the vegetarian split pea soup recipe

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is known for using a ham bone to deliver a richly flavored broth and then having plenty of shredded ham in each bite of soup. But when my vegetarian sister requested a meat-free version of split pea soup that could still taste as rich and indulgent without ham, I was definitely up for the challenge.

In the weeks of testing this soup, I found the main thing a vegetarian version needs: salt. I know, nothing groundbreaking here, but ham adds so much salt to a regular split pea soup, that when leaving it out, there is a need for quite a bit more. Not only do we add a good amount of salt to this soup, but we also add a robustly salted vegetable stock. These two additions make the flavors in this soup so vibrant that you may find you aren’t missing the ham after all!

Beyond the salt, we add a bit more olive oil to help replicate the richness that a ham bone adds to the broth. A touch of lemon zest and juice adds a kick of acidity, freshness, and additional vibrancy. And finally, we add a few additional seasonings you might not find in a typical split pea soup, but they truly seal the deal here — this is the best vegetarian split pea soup!

QUICK TIP

It might seem like this soup is missing out on protein, but split peas are an incredible source of plant-based protein! In 1 cup of uncooked split peas, there are 48 grams of protein — woah!

Process shots-- images of the veggies being sautéed and the split peas and bay leaves being added

What Are Split Peas?

Green split peas are simply dried peas that have been cut in half (hence the “split” part of the name). This means they’ll cook a lot faster and don’t need to soak overnight. Green peas naturally have two halves, so the splitting takes place naturally during the drying process.

Split peas absorb the surrounding flavors of a dish, making them a great canvas for a recipe. They do have a slightly earthy flavor with a subtle sweetness (just like sweet green peas do). 

When they are cooked for a long period of time (like in this recipe), they become very tender resulting in a creamy texture that also nicely thickens the soup.

QUICK TIP

Any split peas will work, but in our testing, we preferred Bob’s Red Mill®! (Not sponsored)

Process shots-- images of the vegetable stock being added and everything simmering. Then part of the soup being added to a blender and blended

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Serving Suggestions

There is nothing quite like some crusty warm bread for dunking in this soup! Add some softened butter on some warmed bread and go to town. Otherwise, some croutons (homemade or store-bought) topping this Vegetarian Split Pea Soup would also be nice.

As far as other sides go, this Caesar Salad, Garden Salad, or Italian Salad would all be nice complementary additions to the dinner table. 

If you’d like some more protein, serve some roasted chickpeas on the side.

Process shots of Vegetarian Split Pea soup -- images of fresh lemon juice and zest being added and then it being served

Split Pea Soup Notes

  • The cooking time can vary a lot, depending on a few factors including the pot you’re cooking the soup in, the actual temperature of the stovetop, the specific split peas you’re using, and personal preference. If you’d like the peas to have more of a bite to them, err on the side of less time. For ultra-creamy peas that practically disintegrate, you’ll be on the upper-end, time-wise.
  • How tender should the peas be? The peas only need to be cooked until they’re tender, but if you prefer a creamier/smoother texture, continue cooking until the peas soften and begin to fall apart. If the soup seems too thick, add in some water/broth and remove from heat. (You can always put the pot back on the heat if you decide you want the peas more tender or for the soup to be thicker). 
  • We recommend a pot with a heavy bottom: That way, you won’t need to be as concerned with the split peas scorching on the bottom (which they have a tendency to do!)

QUICK TIP

Unfortunately, split peas do not have an indefinite shelf life and old split peas won’t soften properly. As the split peas age, they will dry out and take a lot longer (and require more liquid) to properly soften. Check the color — if they are pale, they’re probably old.

Up-close overhead image of a bowl of Vegetarian Split Pea Soup with a spoonful coming out

STORAGE

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Storage

  • How to reheat: This soup stores nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. To reheat, add the soup to a small pot and heat over low heat until warmed to desired preference. Or reheat in the microwave (make sure to cover it so it doesn’t splatter!). It does thicken as it stores, so you’ll need to add in some additional vegetable stock to thin.
  • Freezing: Vegetarian Split Pea Soup will freeze well for up to 2 to 3 monthsHere are some best methods for thawing frozen soup.

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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe

5 from 6 votes
This Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe is robustly seasoned and richly flavored -- trust me, you won't be missing the ham! With loads of veggies and tender creamy split green peas, this soup is the perfect canvas for dipping a hunk of crusty bread.
Print Recipe

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe

5 from 6 votes
This Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe is robustly seasoned and richly flavored -- trust me, you won't be missing the ham! With loads of veggies and tender creamy split green peas, this soup is the perfect canvas for dipping a hunk of crusty bread.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegetarian
Keyword split pea soup, Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 6 servings
Calories 206kcal
Cost $6.12

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (50g) olive oil
  • 2 cups (285g) finely diced yellow onion (~2 medium onions)
  • 1-1/2 cups (220g) finely diced carrot (~4 carrots)
  • 1-1/2 cups (210g) finely diced celery (~4 stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (~4 cloves)
  • Fine sea salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 containers (32 oz.; 907g each) good quality vegetable stock (we love Swanson) (8 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups (335g) green split peas Note 1
  • 2 bay leaves (dry)
  • Optional, but recommended: zest & juice of 1 lemon, crusty bread for dipping, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley or thyme

Instructions

  • VEGGIES AND SPLIT PEAS: In a large (5.5 quart or larger) heavy-bottomed pot, over medium heat, add olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and salt/pepper to taste (I add 2 tsp fine sea salt and 1 tsp pepper). Cook until vegetables are softened and onion is beginning to turn golden, 7-9 minutes. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, cumin, thyme, red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. 
  • COOK: Add in rinsed split peas and bay leaves. Pour in vegetable stock. Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, for 60-90 minutes (Note 2), stirring occasionally so the peas don't catch on the bottom of the pot. The soup should be ever so slightly bubbling at the edges, but not rapidly boiling or bubbling. Cook until split peas are cooked down and soup is thickened to desired consistency. (You'll want to stir a bit more frequently as the soup begins to thicken. Add a splash more broth if it gets too thick for your preference.)
  • BLEND: When ready to serve, remove and discard bay leaves. Remove 2 cups of the soup and blend until completely smooth (Note 3). Return blended puree to the soup and mix through. Add in 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 2 tablespoons lemon juice if using. Taste and season, adding additional salt/pepper as needed (I typically add another 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper).
  • SERVE: Ladle soup into bowls and serve with buttered crusty bread, a sprinkle of cracked pepper, and fresh parsley or thyme if using. Add grated Parmesan cheese to individual bowls if desired. Enjoy!
  • STORAGE: This soup stores nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. To reheat, add the soup to a small pot and heat over low heat until warmed to desired preference. Or reheat in the microwave (make sure to cover it so it doesn’t splatter!) It does thicken as it stores, so you'll need to add in some additional vegetable stock to thin. Freezing: Soup will freeze well for up to 2-3 months. Here are some best methods for thawing frozen soup.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Split peas: Be sure to use fairly fresh split peas for this soup! Old split peas can be dried out and may not soften in the soup. Rinse in a mesh sieve and pick through for any debris before using.
Note 2: Cooking time: The cooking time can vary a bit, depending on a few factors, including the pot you're cooking the soup in, the actual temperature of the stovetop, the specific split peas you're using, and personal preference. Cook until split peas are tender. (If peas aren't getting tender, you may need to increase the heat slightly.) How tender should the peas be? The peas only need to be cooked until they're tender to the bite, but if you prefer a creamier/smoother texture, continue cooking until the peas soften and begin to fall apart. Err on the cautious side; if the soup seems too thick, add in some water/broth and remove from heat. (You can always put the pot back on the heat if you decide you want the peas more tender or the soup thicker.) 
Note 3: Blending: Be sure to remove the center knob from the blender lid and replace that with a clean kitchen towel to avoid splatters. The blender needs to be able to release steam!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 206kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 340mg | Potassium: 444mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 3611IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 2mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This soup is extremely flavourful and just as satisfying as the version with ham. Not better but just as good . Simple ingredients and easy to make. Everyone loved it. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Such a great recipe. My entire family was in love and will be a staple in our house from now on. 🙏🏼🙏🏼

  3. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe. I used Better than Boullion vegetarian base. I swapped in celery salt and seed since I lacked celery, and added a dash of tamari instead of salt. I opted not to add lemon. It’s delicious. I appreciate you sharing!

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