Yellow Split Pea Soup for the Soul

Split Pea Soup with Braised Spinach and Sourdough Bread

I haven’t had a flu in a long time. It’s the strangest sensation. I have no symptoms of a cold, such as runny nose or cough, and I don’t have a fever. But my entire body feels like it’s been pummeled. My back aches and I’m so lethargic I can barely move. I’ve never slept so much in my life. I equate this to the way I felt after I had my wisdom teeth removed, passed out and exhausted in the bed. Only this time I’m not bleeding all over my pillow, or pumped full of codeine.

Now that I have sufficiently ruined your appetites, perhaps I could bring it back with a comforting bowl of yellow split pea soup? This really cheered me up this afternoon, right before I collapsed back into bed for another two hours of sleep. This is another hit from Mark Bittman, who makes a very valid point about vegetarian split pea soup in his book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian:

Meat-eaters automatically associate split peas with ham bones, so many vegetarian versions of split pea soup add a smoky taste through smoked chiles like dried chipotle or ancho. Tossing a piece of toasted seaweed into the pot is another way to add a “meaty” dimension. The truth is you don’t need either. Why muddle that distinctive pea flavor?

I couldn’t agree more. Once again, vegetarian food doesn’t have to mimic meat to be delicious. The proof: Bittman’s Yellow Split Pea Soup with Pantry Vegetables. The surprise is in the pumpkin, which dissolves beautifully into the soup, adding an extra dimension of creaminess and subtle sweetness. Apparently, this is the way they do it in the Caribbean.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

This soup is high in flavor, fiber and protein!

2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
salt and pepper
2 cups yellow split peas
6 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potato, yam, plantains, pumpkin, taro root or any combination of the above
cayenne pepper (optional)
lime (optional)
  1. Heat up the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the split peas and stock to the pot. Cook for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the potato, pumpkin, or whichever root vegetable you are using. Continue cooking until all the vegetables and peas are soft, about 25-40 minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can leave the soup chunk or blend some if it if you like.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and a squeeze of lime.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving (using sweet potato): 336 Calories; 18g Protein; 5.4g Total Fat; 56g Total Carbohydrates; 0mg Cholesterol; 51mg Sodium; 19.6g Fiber.

One thought on “Yellow Split Pea Soup for the Soul

  1. Erik

    I must publicly confess my bacony tendencies, but I agree that split pea soup does not actually require bacon or ham. I found this out accidentally after promising to make split pea soup only to find out at the latest possible minute that I was lacking any pork product at all. I made sure to use lots of rosemary, as that matches the peas really well.
    I have not thought to add any potato or squash to my soup, but perhaps I will next time. I would have expected the texture to mot change much, and the flavors (at least squash) might overpower the peas. Which of those additions works best, in your opinion? Or is it simply a case of “toss in whichever one you have on hand”, knowing it will be good either way? (That’s how I like to make soup :))


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