Split Pea Soup Recipe

One of the most comfortingly, homey, and surprisingly nutritious soups is split pea. This recipe for healthy split pea soup is by Maren Epstein, a nutritionist and certified chef from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. Epstein overcame health issues by changing her diet, and her goal as she states in her blog Eating Works, is "to share life-changing cleansing and nutritive theory and to further execute these theories through the practice of food knowledge and recipes." 

Epstein's split pea soup is not only very affordable, using common ingredients, but it's also easy to make and adaptable for vegetarians, vegans, and meat-lovers alike. While this recipe makes an excellent lunch for a cold winter's day, it's also rich and fulfilling enough for a quick weeknight dinner as well. This is the split pea soup that you and your family will want to try and make over, and over again. 

Gather together the ingredients for the split pea soup

The base of Epstein's soup is vegetable broth, veggies, and of course, dried split peas. But what are split peas? They start out as regular field peas that are grown specifically for processing as dried split peas. When the pea is harvested, it's stripped from the pod and dried. The pea's skin is then removed, and the pea splits in half naturally. When peas are dried, cooking time is diminished, and unlike many other legumes, they don't need to be pre-soaked before cooking them. Split peas come in two varieties: green and yellow. They cook exactly the same, although green split peas have a sweeter taste. 

Epstein says that you could absolutely substitute green lentils for the split peas. Lentils are a different plant altogether and retain texture when they're cooked, so the soup won't thicken as much. Split peas are also good for you: They're high in protein and fiber and low in fat. "You really can get all of the nutrients you need by eating a bowl of split pea soup," Epstein says. "It's the unsung superfood." So let's get to cooking that big pot of super soup.

Chop and sauté the veggies for the split pea soup

You'll need chopped onions, garlic, carrots, and celery for the split pea soup, and they cook at different times, so it's a good idea to get the chopping out of the way before beginning the soup. All of the veggies should be roughly the same chop, but they don't have to be finely chopped for this recipe, since half of the soup will be puréed later. Garlic should be minced or pressed through a garlic press, which helps distribute the flavor throughout the soup. Don't reach for the jarred minced garlic to save time; fresh tastes, well, fresher. 

When you've got the veggies prepped, heat up the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat. (If you want to make a vegan version, Epstein recommends using vegan butter instead of olive oil.) Add the onions, and sauté for seven minutes until they're softened and translucent. 

Try to avoid browning them; you want them pale for this soup. Stir in the garlic, and quickly cook for a minute. Add the chopped carrots and celery, and sauté them for about ten minutes. They should be softened but still have some bite. You're about to pour in the split peas, but you need to do an important step first.

Add the split peas and stock, and simmer the split pea soup

Sometimes when split peas are processed, tiny stones or hardened bits of mud are packaged along with the peas. It's an added step to sort through them, but the last thing you want is your teeth cracking down on a rock. Spread out the two cups of split peas on a baking sheet and pick through them, looking for and discarding any stones or debris. 

Split peas cook quickly so they don't need to be pre-soaked like other legumes. Simply rinse them in a fine-mesh strainer, and dump them into the pot, along with the vegetable stock. Epstein's recipe supports a plant-based diet, but it's okay to use an organic or homemade chicken stock instead. Bring the soup up to a boil, partially covered, then lower the heat, and simmer the soup for 45 minutes. In the final few minutes of cooking, stir in the chopped flat-leaf parsley

Purée in a blender, and serve the split pea soup

You could serve the soup as is, but it won't have the creaminess you love about split pea soup. Epstein's recipe calls for puréeing half of the cooked soup. An easy method is using an immersion or stick blender in the soup pot, which gives you control over how thick the soup will be. If you don't have an immersion blender, then use a regular blender, as Epstein does. Don't blend half of the soup all at once though. Do it in batches, filling the blender jar only half way to prevent the soup from splattering up when you remove the blender lid. 

Once you've blended half of the soup, pour it back into the pot. Stir in some freshly ground black pepper and 1-1/2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, which adds brightness and tang to the soup. If you want, you could add crumbled, cooked bacon or chopped, cooked ham to the soup, or simply ladle it into bowls and garnish each with a little chopped parsley. However you choose to serve it, this healthy and delicious split pea soup is sure to please you and your family, so give it a try today!

Split Pea Soup Recipe
4.8 from 19 ratings
Healthy and nutritious, this recipe for split pea soup is great for a lunch that can be frozen and heated up for later, as well as a weeknight meal.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
50
minutes
Servings
6
servings
split pea soup recipe
Total time: 60 minutes
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cups dried split peas, green or yellow
  • 10 cups vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • additional parsley for garnish
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and salt, and sauté for 7 minutes until translucent. Do not let the onions brown. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute.
  2. Add the chopped carrots and celery to the pot, and sauté 10 minutes or until the vegetables soften.
  3. Pour the dried split peas into a bowl or tray and pick through them, looking for any debris. Rinse the split peas in a fine-mesh sieve.
  4. Add the split peas and vegetable stock to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, and cover partially with the lid. When the stock comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes. Add the parsley in the last few minutes of simmering.
  5. Purée half of the soup in batches in a blender, and add it back into the pot. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to emulsify the soup in the pot.
  6. Stir in the pepper and apple cider vinegar. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 326
Total Fat 7.9 g
Saturated Fat 1.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 49.4 g
Dietary Fiber 18.8 g
Total Sugars 8.3 g
Sodium 306.6 mg
Protein 16.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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