Healthy, hearty, and packed with smoky flavor…this vegetarian split pea soup is pure comfort in a bowl!
Do you have a go-to dish that you like to make when you have no idea what to make for dinner? I do! It’s split pea soup. I make this stuff all year round (even during the hottest days of summer) and I love it.
Split pea soup is healthy, comforting, and so easy to make. In fact, I have about a million and one versions that I make, and I never actually follow a recipe.
I had a hard time picking a version for this post, but I decided to go with a vegan version of what I consider classic split pea soup — the smoky stuff that’s normally made with ham.
Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Ingredients
Obviously there’s no ham in here. Instead I seasoned it with a touch of liquid smoke, which is pretty much magic in a bottle when it comes to making meatless things taste smoky, as well as some cumin.
What is liquid smoke? Someone always asks this. Liquid smoke is a seasoning that’s made by burning wood and condensing the smoke. So liquid smoke is actually smoke, in liquid form! Most supermarkets carry it near the barbecue sauces. You can also buy it online.
In addition to the seasonings you’ll need some onions, carrots, celery and garlic, as well as vegetable broth, red wine vinegar, and, of course, split peas. The awesome thing about this soup is that it’s easy to keep all of the ingredients on hand, so you can make it any time!
How to Make Split Pea Soup
First you’ll need to sweat your veggies. Heat some oil in a large pot and add your onion, carrots and celery. You’ll need to cook them for a few minutes before adding everything else, to start softening them up.
Once the veggies are soft, add some garlic and your cumin. Toasting the cumin first brings out the flavor.
Tip: I usually use ground cumin for this, because I always have it around, but if you keep whole cumin seeds on hand, throw in a half teaspoon or so. They’ll really add some awesome flavor!
The garlic should become really fragrant after about a minute. Now it’s time to add the broth and peas.
Give everything a good stir, crank up the heat and bring the broth to a simmer.
The tough part about cooking split pea soup is the wait. Split peas can take an hour or more to soften up completely. Be patient!
You may find that the broth dries up while your soup cooks. Keep a cup of hot water near the stove and add some whenever this happens.
Add the liquid smoke and a splash of red wine vinegar when your soup is done cooking. Season your soup with salt and pepper to taste, ladle it into bowls and dig in.
FAQ & Split Pea Soup Tips
- Leftovers of this soup keep great! Store them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You may find that your soup thickens up quite a bit during storage — if this happens just add some water when you reheat it.
- Is this soup gluten-free? It is!
- Help! My soup has been cooking forever and the peas are still hard as rocks! Why?
- First off, keep in mind that this stuff does take a long time to cook. Have you given it a full hour and fifteen minutes? If not, be patient.
- Are your peas old? Check the date on the bag and consider how long they’ve been sitting in your pantry. Dated split peas often won’t cook fully.
- Finally, did you add any extra seasonings? Acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar can prevent split peas from cooking. This is why the red wine vinegar goes in at the end of this recipe.
- Do the peas need to be soaked before cooking? Nope! You can soak them overnight if you’d like though. It should shorten the cooking time a bit.
- Can this soup be made in a slow cooker/Instant Pot? I’m sure it can, but I haven’t tried either, so I can’t give exact instructions.
- Interested in checking out some other split pea soup variations? Try my split pea and basmati rice soup, curried split pea soup, or yellow split pea dal.
Smoky Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Healthy, hearty, and packed with smoky flavor...this vegetarian split pea soup is pure comfort in a bowl!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 medium celery stalks, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 pound dried split peas
- Hot water, as needed (I used about 1 cup)
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, or to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place it over medium heat.
Give the oil a minute to heat up, then add the onion, carrot and celery.
Sweat the vegetables for about 10 minutes, until they soften up a bit.
Add the garlic and cumin and cook them with the vegetables until the garlic becomes very fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the broth and peas. Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.
Lower the heat and allow the soup to simmer until the peas are very soft and falling apart, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Keep a bowl of hot water near the stove and add it as the broth dries up.
When the soup has finished simmering, remove it from the heat and stir in the vinegar and liquid smoke. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and serve.