This split pea soup is flavorful, thick, creamy, and comforting. It may not be exactly traditional since it’s vegan, but it’s the perfect soup for the chilly winter season! This split pea soup is vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, and nut-free.

split pea soup

You know how I love my legumes! They’re so versatile and inexpensive.

Split peas are definitely one of the most underrated legumes. They cook super fast and make deliciously rich and comforting soups.

While I make multiple versions of split pea soup, this one is probably the easiest. It’s a simple, basic recipe that is perfect to make when you feel tired or short on time. Whether you cook the split pea soup on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot, it’s super easy!

vegan split pea soup

Tips for Making Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

There are many different ways to make split pea soup, and most contain ham for flavor. I used a good dose of herbs and spices to keep a lot of flavor in this vegan split pea soup. Here’s the complete list of ingredients:

  • Split peas: there is a difference between fresh green peas and dried split peas. Fresh green peas are harvested when young and tender, then typically eaten as a vegetable. Split peas, on the other hand, are dried and mechanically split in half along the natural seam of the pea – this splitting process makes them faster to cook. Dried split peas are available in green and yellow varieties. Green split peas are a bit sweeter and most commonly used in split pea soup recipes. The yellow variety is milder in flavor and is often used to make Indian dal recipes.
  • Vegetables: a simple mirepoix trio of onions, carrots, and celery creates the base flavor for this soup. Many chefs consider mirepoix the secret sauce, the essential ingredient, the reason food tastes so good. The traditional ratio of mirepoix is 2:1:1 (two parts onion, one part carrots, one part celery). I also like adding a couple of cloves of garlic for additional flavor.
  • Olive oil: classic mirepoix is typically sauteed over low heat in the oil to extract and amplify flavor. The intention is to sweeten the vegetables rather than caramelize them.
  • Smoked paprika: traditional split pea soup is made with ham to provide a deep, smoky flavor. Smoked paprika helps to achieve the same taste. You can also add a pinch of chipotle powder, which is very smoky but also spicy.
  • Herbs: thyme and bay leaf pair together really well in slow-simmering soups. They add a subtle flavor layer that lends more depth.
  • Lemon juice: a splash of lemon juice adds acidity to the soup, brightening the rest of the flavors.
  • Vegetable broth: I like to use half water and half vegetable broth not to overpower the flavor of the peas. I use homemade vegetable broth, but you can use any high-quality broth.
  • Salt: salt enhances the flavors and balances the overall soup.
ingredients for split pea soup

How to Make Vegan Split Pea Soup

Making split pea soup required only a few steps:

  1. Soak the split peas (optional). Technically, split peas don’t need to be soaked as they cook quicker than most other legumes. However, I prefer to soak all dried legumes because soaking breaks down phytic acid, which impairs the absorption of calcium, iron, zinc, and other minerals. (1, 2)
  2. Sauté the vegetables and spices. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until softened but not browned, for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and sauté until fragrant, for about a minute.
  3. Simmer. Add the split peas, thyme, bay leaf, vegetable broth, and water, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt (if the vegetable broth doesn’t contain salt already), and simmer, partially covered, until the split peas begin to break apart, for about 60 minutes. If you’re short on time, the peas can be mashed or blended. Split peas soup naturally thickens as the peas break down during cooking and as the soup sits. Also, the soup will continue to thicken as it stands.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  5. Season. Taste and adjust the flavor, adding more salt for saltiness, garlic for pungency, smoked paprika for smokiness, and lemon juice for acidity. Remove the thyme stems and the bay leaf before serving.
  6. Purée (optional). Completely smooth or a little chunky is a personal preference. I like the peas to be soft, almost disintegrated, but still with some texture. My husband prefers silky smooth split pea soup. If you’d like to purée the soup, use an immersion blender or a countertop blender.
how to make split pea soup
how to make green split pea soup

How to Make Split Pea Soup in Instant Pot

Instant Pot cuts the soup cooking time by at least 40 minutes. Sure, you could also use a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time, but the Instant Pot is unique in that it also has a sauté function, so you can make the entire split pea soup in just one pot! Here’s how:

  1. Sauté the vegetables and spices. Press the “sauté” setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until softened but not browned, for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and sauté until fragrant, for about a minute. Then, press “cancel” on the Instant Pot.
  2. Simmer. Add the split peas, thyme, bay leaf, vegetable broth, and water, and season with salt (if the vegetable broth doesn’t contain salt already). Secure the lid and set the steam release knob to the “sealing” position. Press the “pressure cook/manual” mode, and set it to high pressure for 15 minutes.
  3. Release the pressure. Once the cooking time is up, let the pot sit undisturbed for 15 minutes to release some of the pressure. Then, turn the steam release knob to “venting” to quick release the remaining pressure.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice.
  5. Season. Taste and adjust the flavor, adding more salt for saltiness, garlic for pungency, smoked paprika for smokiness, and lemon juice for acidity. Remove the thyme stems and the bay leaf before serving.

How to Serve Vegan Split Pea Soup

Soups are typically considered appetizers and, of course, this split pea soup can be an appetizer. However, it’s so filling that it can easily serve as a main course. Also, since it’s so high in protein and fiber, it is a fully balanced meal. 

This split pea soup is hearty on its own, but it doesn’t hurt to add a topping or something extra on the side. I typically serve the soup with crispy roasted chickpeas, seasoned croutons, or a slice of homemade bread. You can also top the soup with tempeh bacon.

How to Store Split Pea Soup

  • Refrigerate: allow the soup to cool to room temperature. Transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it for 3-4 days. 
  • Freeze: allow soup to cool to room temperature. Transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container, leaving at least a ¾-inch/1.9-cm space at the top of the container for expansion, and freeze it for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat: Transfer frozen soup into the refrigerator 24 hours before reheating to thaw slightly. Reheat in a pot on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot. Add ¼ cup/60 ml water/broth at a time if it’s too thick.
vegan split pea soup recipe

More Protein-Packed Soup Recipes

  • Red lentil soup: everyone needs a good red lentil soup recipe – hearty, comforting, warming, and just bursting with a myriad of flavors. While many lentil soup recipes exist, this Moroccan-spiced variation is my favorite.

Did you make this recipe? I would love to know how it turned out! Please let me know by leaving a review and rating below.

green split pea soup

Split Pea Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
This split pea soup is flavorful, thick, creamy, and comforting. It may not be exactly traditional since it’s vegan, but it's the perfect soup for the chilly winter season!

Ingredients
 

  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. (2.1 g) smoked paprika
  • 2 1/4 cups (454 g) green split peas*
  • 1 tsp. (1 g) dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups (960 ml) vegetable broth
  • 4 cups (960 ml) water
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, for garnish
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Instructions
 

Stove-Top

  • Sauté the vegetables and spices. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until softened but not browned, for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and sauté until fragrant, for about a minute.
  • Simmer. Add the split peas, thyme, bay leaf, vegetable broth, and water, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt (if the vegetable broth doesn't contain salt already), and simmer, partially covered, until the split peas begin to break apart, for about 60 minutes.
    Note: the soup will continue to thicken as it sits, so it's best if it's not overly thick at this stage.
  • Stir in the lemon juice. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  • Season. Taste and adjust the flavor, adding more salt for saltiness, garlic for pungency, smoked paprika for smokiness, and lemon juice for acidity. Remove the thyme stems and the bay leaf before serving.
  • Purée (optional). Completely smooth or a little chunky is a personal preference. I like the peas to be soft, almost disintegrated, but still with some texture. My husband prefers silky smooth split pea soup. To purée the soup, use an immersion blender or a countertop blender.
  • Serve. Garnish the soup with finely chopped fresh parsley and cracked black pepper. Serve hot.
  • Store. Leftover split pea soup keeps well covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. For longer-term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat. The easiest way to reheat frozen soup is to remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator 24 hours before reheating to thaw slightly. Reheat on a stovetop, adding an extra ¼ cup/60 ml water/broth at a time if too thick.

Instant Pot

  • Sauté the vegetables and spices. Press the "sauté" setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until softened but not browned, for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and sauté until fragrant, for about a minute. Then, press “cancel” on the Instant Pot.
  • Simmer. Add the split peas, thyme, bay leaf, vegetable broth, and water, and season with salt (if the vegetable broth doesn't contain salt already). Secure the lid and set the steam release knob to the "sealing" position. Press the "pressure cook"/"manual" mode, and set it to high pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Release the pressure. Once the cooking time is up, let the pot sit undisturbed for 15 minutes to release some of the pressure. Then, turn the steam release knob to "venting" to quick release the remaining pressure.
  • Stir in the lemon juice.
  • Season. Taste and adjust the flavor, adding more salt for saltiness, garlic for pungency, smoked paprika for smokiness, and lemon juice for acidity. Remove the thyme stems and the bay leaf before serving.
  • Purée (optional). Completely smooth or a little chunky is a personal preference. I like the peas to be soft, almost disintegrated, but still with some texture. My husband prefers silky smooth split pea soup. To purée the soup, use an immersion blender or a countertop blender.
  • Serve. Garnish the soup with finely chopped fresh parsley and cracked black pepper. Serve hot.
  • Store. Leftover split pea soup keeps well covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. For longer-term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat. The easiest way to reheat frozen soup is to remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator 24 hours before reheating to thaw slightly. When ready to reheat the soup, pour it into the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and set the steam release knob to the "sealing" position. Press the "pressure cook"/"manual", and set it to "0". When the timer beeps, the Instant Pot will automatically switch to “keep warm” mode and will keep the soup hot.

Notes

*2 ¼ cups/454 g of dried split peas equal 5 ½ cups/865 g of soaked dried split peas.
**Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please feel free to make your own calculations.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 6, Calories: 323kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 6g, Fiber: 20g, Sugar: 8g
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keywords: split pea soup, split pea soup recipe, vegan split pea soup