Thick and Hearty Split Pea Soup

by on December 18, 2007
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Thick and Hearty Split Pea Soup

If your days are as busy and rushed as mine have been lately, perhaps you won’t mind if I give barely any introduction to this recipe. In a way, this is a soup that needs no introduction: it’s your basic, all-purpose, down-to-earth split-pea soup. This is the one I whip up when I’m serving curry-haters (yes, they do exist!) or am just in the mood for a milder soup that gets its flavor from caramelized onions and vegetables, rather than spices. It’s true comfort food–quick comfort food if you use the pressure cooker. In about half an hour, you can go from wondering what’s for dinner to sitting down to eat. And in these busy days, who can resist that?


Thick and Hearty Split Pea Soup

Course Main Course, Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 216 kcal
Author Susan Voisin


  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 3 ribs celery chopped
  • 2 cups dried split peas checked carefully for debris and rinsed
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 2 medium potatoes coarsely chopped
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1-2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke or smoked salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat a pressure cooker or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan often, until they begin to caramelize. (Add water by the tablespoon if necessary to prevent sticking.) Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for 2 more minutes.
  2. Add the peas to the pot. If you’re using a pressure cooker, add 6 cups of water; for regular cooking, add 8 cups water. Stir in the potatoes, bay leaf, celery seed, basil, and thyme.
  3. For pressure cooking: Seal the cooker and bring to high pressure. Lower heat and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes (8 minutes for electric pressure cooker). Remove from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally. If beans are not completely cooked, cover loosely and cook (without pressuruntil they reach the desired tenderness.
  4. For regular cooking: Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over very low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until peas are soft and disintegrate when stirred.
  5. For both methods: Once the peas are tender, add the liquid smoke, salt, and pepper. Check the seasoning and add more herbs if necessary. Cook several minutes uncovered to thicken (or add water to thin). Serve with warm whole-grain bread.
  6. Makes about 8 servings, and tastes even better the next day!
Nutrition Facts
Thick and Hearty Split Pea Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 216 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Sodium 565mg 24%
Total Carbohydrates 41g 14%
Dietary Fiber 15g 60%
Protein 13g 26%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


If curried split-pea soups are your thing, here are a couple of my favorites:

Or, if you prefer smoky, southwestern flavors, take a look at Southwestern Split-Pea Soup.

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 adlai November 9, 2009 at 5:09 pm

thanks , this is my secound week been a vegan and with your website i am sure not eating animals base food again . thank you so much


2 Tash March 9, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Hi Adlai, im a new vegan too, its been 1 month 1 week for me (i had to check on the calendar lol) and this was the first blog i came across in my first few days as well, its been so helpful and inspiring and all the dishes look divine, i have even shared this blog with a few new to vegan friends…. its lovely to know I’m not the only new vegan <3


3 Rhia January 17, 2010 at 11:30 am

Hi! I'm not a vegan but I just have to say that this is really good! Smells awesome and is very filling too. I'm trying to eat healthier so I will be trying a lot more recipes from your site in the future. Thanks so much for the recipe πŸ˜€


4 Moon Cat February 8, 2010 at 9:03 am

I think a chipotle pepper would work great to give a smokey flavor and a little heat. I keep a jar of them in my spice cabinet and put them regularily in dried beans.


5 Christina Garton February 11, 2010 at 9:45 am

I love this recipe so much, and my picky picky husband loves it as well. I made it without the liquid smoke as that stuff weirds me out (plus I'm not a smoky flavor kind of girl) and it tasted lovely, especially when topped with a tablespoon of sour cream. The pressure cooker aspect is also a wonderful timesaver! I almost always have all these ingredients on hand, so it's the perfect last minute meal that tastes like it took hours!


6 ~M April 15, 2010 at 9:17 am

I’ve made this twice now – in the crockpot – and it’s delicious! The only change I recommend is using less liquid; 6-7 cups should be sufficient. I used unpeeled yukon potatoes, 1.5 tsp of liquid smoke, and 2.5 tsp of coarse sea salt. The first time, I completely pureed it in my vitamix so the vegetables would be hidden from unsuspecting in-laws. And it worked; my vegetarian sister-in-law ate some protein! πŸ™‚ The second time, I only pureed half, just enough to give the soup body. I soaked the split peas overnight, and then cooked on low all day, but I would cook on high for part of the time to get the peas really tender. I’m looking forward to the leftovers for lunch (in mason jars) for the rest of the week. Thanks, Susan!


7 Dyan June 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

BEST SOUP EVER. I don’t have a pressure cooker or a dutch oven so i make it in multiple pots (or halve the recipe) and always end up making a huge mess, but it’s SO worth it.


8 Amber July 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm

It’s a yummy soup! I used 7 cups of water on the stove and it was too much, next time I will try 6.


9 Suzi August 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Made this today during some unseasonably cool weather and it’s SO lovely! I reduced the salt and added a few squirts of Apple Cider vinegar, which complemented the liquid smoke nicely. I omitted potatoes from the pot because my mom is on an anti-inflammatory diet and can’t have any nightshades (also includes tomatoes, eggplant, etc). She also doesn’t like overly spicy food so this was perfect for us to share.


10 Suzi August 11, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Oh, also I added about a quarter cup of barley because I love it in split pea soups and because it was needing to be used. Maybe it was because of the extra grain being used, but I didn’t find there was too much water, I usually find myself adding extra water to slip pea soups anyway, especially to the thickened leftovers.


11 Rachel November 22, 2010 at 11:56 am

I made this soup with a little variation and it is so delicious!
I cooked it on my stove and added 1 handful of dried daikon, soaked for 1/2 hour and about 1/4 cup of burdock root also soaked for 1/2 hour. I used one large Yukon potatoe and no smoke but seasoned each bowl with 3 year old Barley Miso from South River. I lean towards macrobiotic and like to include healing foods to my meals. Daikon helps cut through fat, especially when it is dried, it works on the internal organs (it also gives a bit of sweetness), burdock strengthens the immune system and miso helps give you B12 and fight off any cancers growing in the body. My came out a little thinner but I loved it, I just added a bit of Millet/Corn Grits I was cooking and it was like dumplings, in the soup. Luv your site.


12 Valerie December 29, 2010 at 10:58 pm

I made the Split Pea Soup last night and we loved it so much there were no leftovers. So I made it again today!


13 Byron January 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Is there such a thing as a double “OMG”? After having searched google for something to do with these two bags of dried peas I had, I came across the the “Thick and Hearty Split Pea Soup” recipe here. I doubled the recipe, used a bit less potato and a bag of pearl onions instead of the medium regular onions.
I adopted a vegan way of eating only two months ago. I’ve been reading as much as I can get my hands on. I’ve always been adventurous in the kitchen (and good at it too). I try only to consume carbohydrate sources that are low on the glycemic index and it doesn’t look as though I will have much trouble finding inspiration here! Thanks.


14 Marian Hamilton October 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Byron, you will NOT be disappointed w/Susan’s recipes – plus, her photos really make the recipe just JUMP OUT at you & give pure inspiration! BEST TO YOU as you eat the vegan way. It has sure helped my health – cholesterol numbers couldn’t be better. πŸ™‚


15 sandrajayne January 16, 2011 at 6:27 pm

This is the first thing I made with my new pressure cooker. It turned out absolutely perfect and took less than a half an hour. I am amazed. Thank you for making it so simple and delicious. You really do have the best website for easy, really good food. Just wanted you to know I appreciate all of your efforts.


16 Kim March 18, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I love this recipe, I’m a huge pea soup fan is this is my favorite! I have been substituting cauliflower for the potato and it is delicious. (Got the cauliflower idea from your curried pea soup recipe, now I can’t believe I ever ate pea soup without it!) Can’t wait to try the curry version!


17 Jana September 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I love this pea soup, you made my rainy day much better! Although I am not a vegetarian nor vegan, I try to eat healthy and I love your recipes Susan. Thank you so much for this blog!

I made some adjustments to the soup – I don’t like dried basil and thyme, so I substituted it with marjoram. It takes great! I am happy I bought the celery seeds the other day and didn’t skip those, they add a great flavor to the soup.


18 Marian Hamilton October 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Still don’t have a pressure cooker, so LOVE that you have the regular cooking instructions here too!! πŸ™‚

And, once again, thanks for the nutritional info! xxooxx


19 Pam October 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm

any good substitutes for liquid smoke?


20 SusanV October 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Hickory or smoked salt or smoked paprika will both lend a nice smokey taste. Actually, I don’t use liquid smoke anymore because inprefere hickory salt. It only takes a tiny bit added right at the end.


21 Dawn (Vegan Fazool) October 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Hey Susan! Great minds think alike. I also did a pressure cooker stew tonight!

Since I JUST got my cooker, I am a little confused. For my cooker it says specifically, in big capital letters, “DO NOT COOK SPLIT PEAS” as well as any other dry bean or pea not listed, including rhubarb, cranberries, cereals, pastas, soup mixes the reason being, “these foods expand so much that they should never be cooked under pressure.” The fruit and the pasta I get.

I was suspect of this warning in regards to the split peas, grains and soup mixes particularly and wondered if you have advice or experience related to this macabre warning πŸ™‚

Here is the link to my post from tonight which has a link to my specific cooker:

Thanks for any help! I sure want to make this split pea soup in my cooker!!


22 SusanV October 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Dawn, you should probably obey your pressure cooker’s warning. I just went over to your blog so that I could see what type of cooker you have, and since it’s the kind with the rocker on the top, it’s more likely to clog up the valve if you cook split peas in it. Some people might say that you could fill it less than half way and cook them, but I don’t want to give you dangerous advice!

I have two pressure cookers and fortunately neither of them have a problem with split peas or other beans. One is a Fagor electric cooker and the other is a Kuhn Rikon.


23 Dawn (Vegan Fazool) October 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm

That stinks because I didn’t realize some cookers didn’t do all beans when I bought it! None of the reviews mentioned it, etc. Maybe I’ll have to write my first Amazon product review, now πŸ™‚

Oh well. I’ll play it by ear with the split peas.

Thanks for helping out!!


24 EmilyS July 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm

How would you cook this in the electric pressure cooker? How long, and how much water?


25 Lisa August 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Dawn, I have the exact same pressure cooker and I just cooked this recipe in it. The manual for my cooker says to not fill the pot over half full when cooking split peas, as opposed to other dry legumes which can be 2/3 full. Happy cooking!


26 sue October 18, 2011 at 10:04 am

if you are doing this in the crockpot, how long do i cook this?


27 SusanV October 18, 2011 at 10:27 am

I would cook it on low 8-10 hours or high for 4-6.


28 kensington cooker November 6, 2011 at 9:09 am

This is another one of Susan’s recipes that works perfectly in the slow cooker. I put all the ingredients ( I use seven cups of liquid instead of six) except the salt, pepper, and liquid smoke in a six-quart crockpot. I increase the spices (about one and a half the amount) since they can lose some potency in the process. I have an old pot (I hear newer ones cook hotter/faster), so it takes about nine hours on low. You could give it even less time if you like your veggies more identifiable and less “mushy” in the soup. At the end I add less salt and liquid smoke than called for (just my taste) and the result is superb.


29 Barbara Hinz November 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm

This was the first time I make split pea soup and it is sooooooooooooo delicious!
I live your site and your recipes. Thank you!

I’ve been vegan for a year now and have really come to love the beauty of soups. Make once on the weekend and I have lunch all week. Yummmm


30 Susan Simon December 12, 2011 at 11:20 pm

I was craving a good split pea soup. Made this and it is delicious. Next time I would stick with one tsp of liquid smoke (I used two). One addition I made – a local restaurant makes a delicious split pea soup and in each serving they put a slice of fresh lemon. So for each bowl I eat, I put in a slice of lemon – it adds a lovely touch. This soup is delicious and I will be making it again – thanks!


31 vikess December 19, 2011 at 9:56 am

Split pea soup is my all -time favorite for a homemade soup. I add a sweet potato if have one on hand…sometimes in place of carrot or potato, sometimes I have all three in there. It’s kinda never the same soup twice……


32 pam December 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

I’m going to make some today. I’m curried out for a day or so. I don’t have liquid smoke. I guess I can just leave it out. Can you suggest a substitute? I’m getting ready to make it now.


33 Susan Voisin December 19, 2011 at 10:35 am

You can just leave it out. I don’t use it very much anymore. When I want a smoky flavor, I use smoked paprika or smoked salt (which would be the better option for this soup).


34 Thich nu Tinh Quang December 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

This sounds like a cozy, warm meal on a cold winter day. I’m going to try cooking this in the slow cooker. Thanks for sharing.


35 Charissa January 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I just made this for dinner tonight in my slow cooker and just wow…. thank you Susan for another amazing recipe. This has been declared a new household favorite!


36 Todd January 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm

This looks and sounds fantastic. I have a question. Do you think this recipe could be done in a slow cooker?




37 Vikki January 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I’ve just made this in my slow cooker (that’s what we call a crock pot here in the UK) by following the suggestions made by ‘kensington cooker’ above and it’s delicious and will do for a couple of nights’ worth of meals. YUM, YUM!


38 Sarah January 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm

This was dinner tonight, and I LOVED it! So did a vegetarian friend, and two meat eaters. The only one who didn’t like it was my 13 year old son, he declared it “too mushy” lol. I made it exactly as written for stovetop, only I cut back the liquid smoke to 1/2 a tsp. I will DEFINITELY make this again! thank you!


39 Joan February 26, 2012 at 9:02 am

Just had to comment on the pottery you have the Thick and Hearty Pea Soup pictured in. I have that same pottery set and love it so was surprised and happy to see it being used by someone else. By the way, I’m planning to make this soup today. I share it with the retired priest from my church and also the secretary there. Thanks for all the great recipes!


40 Elle March 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I tried this recipe and it was very satisfying. My meat-loving brother loved it, and my mom wanted me to start making it weekly!


41 Tash March 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I am a huge lover of soups, i love making them and designing new ones and i love eating them, the moment anyone is sick i get the biggest smile on my face because its just another reason to make a super nutrient packed veggie soup, soup is just versatile, easy and goes a long way, not to mention if you are starting to run out of your fav soup just add more water, instant extra soup πŸ˜€ I’m saying this while currently eating corn soup lol.
This soup recipe is a great simple quick recipe, i just adore how you put simple quick and sometimes plain old run of the mill recipes on your blog, it helps those who do not have the time or ingredients on hand to make elaborate dishes.
so thank you for being real <3


42 Lfred March 24, 2012 at 10:32 pm

We have been plant based for about 3 months now, and I have made over a dozen of Susan’s recipes. Every single recipe has been wonderful-even my 9 and 5 year old daughters love the recipes! This website has definitely been a huge part of a smooth transition for us. I’m impatiently waiting for the cookbook : ) This split pea recipe is excellent!


43 Elle March 25, 2012 at 9:55 am

What size pressure cooker do you use for this recipe?


44 Susan Voisin March 25, 2012 at 10:00 am

My pressure cookers are 6 and 7 quarts, and this soup works in both of them. If you have a smaller one, you should probably halve the recipe.


45 Linda March 25, 2012 at 11:21 pm

I made this soup tonight in my pressure cooker ( the one I got as a wedding present 26 years ago and still going strong). I added a grated apple and a grated gold beet that were wilting in my veggie drawer in the fridge. I also added two cubes of veggie stock. When it was done I couldn’t wait for the pressure to abate and helped it along by tilting the weight on top of the cooker. When the pressure went down I opened her up and tasted. So delicious! I missed the part about adding the liquid smoke, salt and pepper at the end. Just finished parsing it off between the freezer and the fridge in pint containers with one big bowl held aside for a late night dinner tonight. Thanks!!! Super yummy.


46 Beverly Crossland August 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm

We have this soup often..We are a family of 10 so I like to serve over brown rice to make it go a little farther..I really like how you put the instructions to use pressure cooker and regular..It is very helpful I wish more people did so..I am new to using the pressure cooker and it helped a lot..Keep up the good work!! Cant wait to try a lot of your great recipes.. Especially the sorbet and the cashew tofu mayo..


47 Radhika Sarohia August 28, 2012 at 2:45 am

This was good, I didn’t have celery seed or liquid smoke so instead I put in mustard, parsley, turmeric and a tiny bit of Old Bay seasoning
I’m also trying to keep things semi low-carb, so I replaced the potato with spinach (next I’ll go for cauliflower as suggested above in the comments somewhere)
I didn’t let it cook long enough and I also burnt it because I didn’t add enough water
Even with all that it was very tasty so I’ll be making it again, thanks for the recipe


48 Barbara September 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I made this soup last night using the pressure cooker and brought it to work for lunch today — wow, this is super hearty and has just the flavor and texture I was looking for..chunky with very subtle with hints of the herbs. I used some baby yukon golds potatoes which rounded out the flavorfullness. The pressure cooker instructions are spot on — eight minutes under pressure and another 20 to cool down naturally and I had a great soup. Thanks!


49 Colleen September 12, 2012 at 1:24 am

Just made this and it was incredible! I found myself adding more seasonings than suggested because I prefer my soups and stews to taste very herbal. Certainly the best split pea soup I’ve ever had!


50 Beth December 29, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Awesome recipe. This was so good. I followed it to the letter except I didn’t have the basil so I subbed dried parsley. And I added Vegeta because I am Hungarian. Thanks!


51 Karl December 31, 2012 at 2:55 am

I have a Presto pressure cooker and ALWAYS make split pea soup n it! Just make sure it keeps steaming…


52 Leslie Paquette February 16, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Hi Susan, thanks for this delicious recipe!! I made it in my pressure cooker (only my second time using it) and it came out great. I didn’t have the vent/valve set right the first time so it never actually got up to pressure. Of course when I opened the lid it looked very similar to the way it did when I closed the lid! So, I tried again and definitely achieved pressure because it was cooked perfectly. I only used half the salt and liquid spice and added a parsnip. My husband is trying to eat more vegan meals and he thought this was delicious. Thank you, Leslie


53 Susan Simon June 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Had a craving for this – just made it in the pressure cooker – so unbelievably delicious. I serve it with a slice of fresh lemon in the bottom of the bowl that I mash up a bit in the bowl. It is one of my very favorite recipes. I skip all the oil and the salt – don’t think it needs it. This is such delicious soup. Make it now!!!


54 Peggy Baillio October 15, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Would love to print the recipe but don’t see where it is printable. I’m to old for all this computer stuff, lol.


55 Susan Voisin October 16, 2013 at 7:36 am

Peggy, right under the title of the recipe, just before the ingredients, there’s a link for a printer-friendly page. If you click that, you’ll get the recipe by itself, and you can use your browser’s print command (which might only be accessible by right-clicking on the page) to print it.


56 Perele von Shifer October 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm

please check cooking time listed. thanks.


57 Sara November 26, 2013 at 9:11 pm

This is a good recipe, however I personally did not enjoy the liquid smoke part. Will make again, but will be omitting the liquid smoke. It’s too aromatic for me. Thanks for the recipe.


58 Nikki February 7, 2014 at 8:22 pm

I doubled the recipe for a party and used yellow and green split peas and Oh my goodness. It’s so good I want to use teeny tiny bowls at our party and save it for myself



59 Valerie February 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

This soup is really good. I tweeked it a little, as I had some vegetarian ham (sometimes called Buddhist ham) on hand and added it when the soup was almost done.


60 Mary P November 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm

I am eating this right now and it is absolutely delicious! Thanks for another great recipe!


61 Marian November 15, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Made this again tonight. It’s one of my favorites. Rave reviews as usual.


62 Robin February 18, 2017 at 7:11 am

Hello, first to say I love your recipes – thank you for sharing them. I am new to the IP and my first was your veggie soup.
Last night I made this Thick and Hearty Split Pea Soup which is just awesome! But I have a questions about the recipe. Under the pressure pot instructions. “Seal the cooker and bring to high pressure. lower heat and cook at high pressure for 6-8 minute.” ??? I simply sealed the cooker – unplugged the unit. Set it at 8 minutes and let it do it’s thing. How should I have done this? Thank you for your advice. Robin


63 Elizabeth February 19, 2017 at 8:54 am

I come back to this recipe time and time again.
My family LOVES it.
…I’ve made it for work events, pot-lucks and girls weekends.
It never fails.

Thank you!!!


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