Curried Split Pea Soup with Cauliflower

by on January 20, 2006
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Curried Split Pea Soup with Cauliflower

You might think that I plan all my dinners in advance, but the truth is I rarely decide what I’m going to cook until 5 minutes before I start. I like to keep my options open, so I keep a fairly well-stocked pantry and adapt recipes when I don’t have the exact ingredients.

I mention this because last night I was coming into the kitchen to prepare a couple of Ethiopian dishes when my daughter said, “Will you cook split pea soup? I want to have it in my thermos for lunch tomorrow.” Since I’m always happy when she takes something other than a sandwich for lunch, I quickly changed courses. Besides, split pea soup is so quick and easy to make in the pressure cooker. (Subject for another day: If you don’t have a PC, run out and buy one now!)

There are as many variations on split pea soup as there are cooks, and Curried Split Pea Soup is one of my three favorites. I think that steamed cauliflower goes well with split pea soup; in fact, I always wind up dipping my cauliflower into the soup. Last night I decided to streamline the cooking/dipping process and just cook the cauliflower in the soup, so this is what I did:

Curried Split Pea Soup with Cauliflower
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adapted from an adaptation of a recipe by Lorna Sass.
Serves: 8
  • 1 teaspoon each whole cumin, fennel, and black mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 3 large carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups dried green or yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 1-2 tablespoons mild curry powder (to taste)
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cauliflower, chopped
  1. Spray the bottom of the pressure cooker with a quick spray of oil, or add just a few drops, and begin heating it. (You can try toasting the spices without oil, but they burn quickly.) Add the cumin, fennel, and black mustard seeds over medium-high heat and toast them for about 10 seconds (they may or may not begin to pop). Stir in the ginger, garlic, and onions and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another minute. Add the carrots, boiling water (stand back to avoid sputtering), split peas (I like yellow in this), and curry powder. Stir well to be sure that no bits of onion or spices have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  2. Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 8 minutes. (Electric PC users, just set the high pressure setting to 8 minutes.) Remove from heat or turn PC off. Allow the pressure to come down naturally for about 10 minutes, then quick-release the pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape. Check the peas, and if they are not soft, return to high pressure for a couple of minutes or until they are uniformly tender (older peas may take longer to cook).
  3. Add the chopped cauliflower, replace the lid, and heat over low heat until the cauliflower is just cooked, about 10 minutes. This also works with frozen chopped cauliflower (no need to thaw first). Stir in salt. (If no salt is desired, try stirring in fresh lemon juice a tablespoon at a time until the flavor is to your liking.) If the soup is too thick, thin it with water or stock.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/8 of recipe Calories: 212 Fat: less than 1g Carbohydrates: 39.6g Sodium: 52.3mg Fiber: 15.5g Protein: 14g


Curried Split Pea Soup with Cauliflower

Original Photo

There you go–soup and a vegetable all in one!

Next up: the incredibly red salad I served with this….


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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pat May 20, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Dear Susan, made this last night and it was soooo wonderful; I couldn’t stop eating it! Made it with yellow split peas, yellow cauliflower, cooked on the stove like I do all my soups. This is MY new fave!


2 Kay July 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Made this on the stove top too. Simply delish. Just cooked the peas until they were soft enough for me (I know this can vary with the age of the peas, so I didn’t bother timing it), and when it was done, threw in the cauliflower.

I also gave it a bit of whiz with my immersion blender, and added a bit more liquid when it was all done.

This freezes fantastically, too!


3 Sarah September 10, 2011 at 7:40 am

Hi Susan,
I just made this recipe again for the 4th or 5th time and I wanted to tell you how much my husband and I LOVE it. I took cook the cauliflower in it and I make it stove top as I don’t have a pressure cooker. I have decided to get a pressure cooker and was wondering if you could recommend a pressure cooker size. I have seen many 6 quart and 8 quart models, but I was hoping to get some advice from someone who uses one alot.


4 SusanV October 19, 2011 at 11:48 am

Sarah, I definitely recommend getting at least a 6 quart pressure cooker, perhaps even an 8-quart. When you cook split peas and other small legumes like lentils, you have to be careful not to over-fill the pot, so having some extra room is essential. Also, make sure you get a cooker that uses the new valve technology, not the old “jiggle top”–those don’t handle beans as well.


5 doemora January 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Oh my! such memories of beans exploding all over the house in Narragansett in the late 70s/early 80’s!!! I suspect the newer ones (as you describe) will not create such long lasting memories 🙂


6 GetSkinnyGoVegan October 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm

That looks delicious!!


7 astrid morgan October 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Sounds souper good ; D But can you give me an idea on cooking time if i am without the pressure cooker ( its on the christmas list) THANKS!


8 SusanV October 19, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Cook it on low, covered, until the split peas fall apart, probably about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. You’ll also need more water. Then add the cauliflower about 10 minutes before serving.


9 Sue November 24, 2011 at 11:57 am

My family loved this the first time they ate it (last year? maybe earlier), and again when we ate it this past week. Because I had a small-medium sized leftover baked sweet potato in the refrigerator, I used it and 1 large carrot instead of 3 large carrots. Wow! That worked really well. Then I noticed that you had posted a more recent recipe,, that uses sweet potato and cauliflower, with chick peas instead of split peas. Also, our family has tried and liked your recipe that uses cauliflower and butternut squash. What I’m starting to get, is that if I make a soup using cauliflower, I can probably add an orange squash/root-veg/pumpkin(?) of my choice, along with curry-ish spices and citrus and a protein-starch grain/bean/pea/lentil(?) – and wind up in a good to great place. Thanks for your fabulous recipes and for the inspiration!


10 Bex September 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Another wonderful recipe. When I talk about your site I mention that I have never cooked a recipe from here that hasn’t been wonderful. Thank you so very much for that.


11 Susan Voisin September 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I’m so glad to hear that! Thank you!


12 Mel October 5, 2012 at 12:45 pm

My pressure cooker’s (Instant Pot LUX60) instructions say that I should not use split peas in it because they froth too much. I was surprised to see this. Why would it say that? Have you had any issues? Thanks!


13 Susan Voisin October 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Instructions do often say that, but as long as you don’t overfill the cooker, you shouldn’t have any problem. Just to be safe, try filling it only halfway.


14 Barb December 14, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I made this tonight, but had to use regular mustard seed as I didn’t have any black mustard seed (had never heard of black mustard seed before, will be looking for it in stores now). It was still delicious! I used green split peas and cooked the soup on top of the stove, as I have a 4-qt pressure cooker (too small) and a 22 qt. aluminum pressure cooker for canning and don’t want to cook food in aluminum. I will keep the recipe to use often. Thanks!


15 Katie December 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm

You can find black mustard seed in Indian grocery stores. 🙂


16 stephanie November 13, 2013 at 5:41 pm

This sound delicious I have an electric pressure much time would you recommend I use.


17 Susan Voisin November 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I usually add 2-3 minutes when using the electric pressure cooker, just to be on the safe side.


18 Jody November 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I don’t have a pressure cooker. I would like to make this in my slow cooker. Any suggestions.


19 Susan Voisin November 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm

You could put everything except the salt and cauliflower into the slow cooker and cook on slow for 6 hours. Then add the cauliflower and cook until it and the split peas are tender, another 1-3 hours. Add salt to taste. (I base those times on this recipe by slow cooker wizard Kathy Hester.)


20 Jennifer November 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm

What brand and model pressure cooker would you or others recommend on Amazon?


21 Susan Voisin November 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm
22 Kirsten November 23, 2013 at 11:22 am

Hi Susan,

I love your website and your recipes! I frequently use them as is, or as the inspiration for variations of my own! The trouble is that I don’t have enough time in my lifetime to cook everything that I want to.

My question about this recipe is this: can you give me some advice on adapting it to non-pressure cooker pots, and also using lentils? i.e. timing of ingredients, and liquid amounts?

Much appreciated!

Thank you in advance

Kirsten Ness


23 Kirsten November 23, 2013 at 11:23 am

Never mind Susan! I should have read through the comments before posting my question! Thanks muchly for all your delicious work!


24 Susan Voisin November 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I’m so glad you found the answers to your questions, Kirsten. My blog commenters are the best! They often make adaptations I would never think of.


25 Brenda January 7, 2014 at 7:29 pm

This freezing weather is making me crave split pea soup, so I decided to try this tonight. I had some panch phoron I’d picked up at the Indian market, so I used that. It took no time in the pressure cooker and smells and tastes amazing! Thanks so much for this one!


26 Mike Milton April 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Oh! Perfect, this is exactly what we were looking for as a diner tonight.


27 Marla January 16, 2016 at 4:14 pm

I made this soup for lunch last week and it was fantastic! It was flavorful, hearty, and satisfying. I used a spicy curry blend rather than the recommended mild curry and loved the depth of flavor. Great recipe!


28 SuzanneH February 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm

This soup is delicious. Unfortunately I did not have black mustard seeds or curry powder so I used fennel, cumin, and garam masala spice. All praise the pressure cooker! This one was done and ready to eat within 30 minutes. Love it


29 Beth September 11, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Made this today and it is so so good! Amazingly it loks to be only 3-4 points per cup!


30 Tince September 13, 2016 at 7:46 am

Susan, I really would love to make this today but I don’t have the cumin/black mustards seeds and ginger. I do have ground cumin/ginger and fennel seeds. Do you think these would change the flavor by much? Thank you!


31 Susan Voisin September 13, 2016 at 7:55 am

I think the ground cumin and ginger will probably be good, but I would just leave out the mustard seed and not replace it with fennel. Fennel will overpower and change the flavor.


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