Eat Well: Meat Free (your) Split Pea

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
I love to cook soups all year round. They are easy to make, can be made in quantity for a hearty meal today and leftovers to freeze, and are a perfect way for a vegetarian to eat lots of varieties of vegetables. In winter, especially, nothing tastes better on a cold day than a hot and comforting bowl of soup. And the gold standard warm fuzzy of winter soups is split-pea.

I have to admit, though, Ihated didn’t really like split-pea soup until I came across Sheila Lukins’ End of the Line Split Pea Soup in Parade magazine years ago and turned it into a vegetarian version. The recipe was one of several in an article about crock-pot meals. My work schedule had increased and I wanted to dust off my crock-pot so that dinner would be ready when I came home. Since Rebecca didn’t eat meat and Rachel didn’t eat pork (a decision made at age 7 after watching the movie Babe), I modified the recipe and turned it into a vegetarian split pea. I couldn’t believe how delicious it turned out…not like any split pea soup I had ever had before. I think that taking out the ham improves the flavor and lets you taste the subtleties of the vegetables and flavorings. It has become one of our favorite meals (and made me a split-pea convert!)

You can make this recipe in a crock-pot or on the stove and it turns out equally as well. If you make it on the stove, you can double it, have enough for several days and also some to freeze. It is even better the next day when it sets up and thickens (you can add more broth the next day if you prefer it thinner). I often make it on the stove in the early afternoon and then let it sit for a few hours to thicken. If you make it in the crock-pot, just chop all the vegetables and put in the pot with all of the other ingredients and cook on low for 8-10 hours. (You can make it the night before and let it cook all night, then refrigerate it in the morning and reheat at night). The parsnips give the soup a yummy sweetness—and the tarragon, its complexity. Don’t substitute for either of these flavorings.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
(adapted from Sheila Lukins End of the Line Split Pea Soup)

1 pound dried green split peas
2 carrots, peeled
2 ribs celery
1 onion
1 parsnip
1 leek (3 inches of green left on, root trimmed, split lengthwise + washed well)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon dried tarragon, or 1-2 T chopped fresh
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Pick over the peas; rinse, drain and set aside:
2. Cut the carrots, celery, onion, parsnip and leek into small dice. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over low heat. Add the diced vegetables...
...cook until wilted, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the peas; cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, thyme, tarragon, broth and water.
...Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are cooked, about an hour. (If you are cooking in a crock pot, just add chopped vegetables and everything else to the pot and cook for 8-10 hours).
Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs, if used. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You can let it sit for awhile to thicken. Then when ready to serve, heat it up and stir in the parsley. (Serves 6 & can be doubled!)
(I serve this soup with an arugula salad and cornbread for a perfect meal!)


Stay tuned for more soup next week!




Connie S. | 8:46 AM

Ooh! This sounds delicious! Split pea is my favorite soup, but I've always been intimidated to try my hand on it (because I love it so much, and because bad split pea soup is so, so bad.).

Question: when using the slowcooker, do you need to soften the diced veggies in a pan, or do you toss everything into the slowcooker raw?

Thanks!! I'm crazy about your recipes.

Wendy Woolf | 9:00 AM don't have to soften...just throw them in the crock pot as is. I find when cooking in the crock-pot it is best to cook it the night before so the peas have a lot of time to thicken sitting in the refrigerator. Or cook it one day and then eat it the next.

kim {the non-mom blogger} | 9:14 AM

Thanks, Wendy!! This looks delicious. I have recently lost 10 pounds, largely due in part to the recipes and tips on this blog! I can't wait to try this one.


Kimberly - that's amazing!!!! Good for you, mama!

Paula/adhocmom | 11:37 AM

Winter to me = soup. I present my three year old with a bowl of soup and she acts like I'm giving her a bowl of toxic waste. Seriously, her scowl kills my soul just a little bit. But I don't plan to give up. . we have a lot of winter left!

Barb | 11:47 AM

I'm loving all these recipes!!!

Question: I could use a tutorial on how to freeze food for later. I know, elementary stuff, but I always end up with freezer burn.

Maggie | 12:45 PM

This has totally motivated me to give split pea soup another try. I have never enjoyed the 'hammy-ness' of it, and I LOVE parsnips.

Thanks so much Wendy. I've loved all of your posts. It seems that every week I forget, open up GGC from my favorites toolbar and think to myself: "Oooooo it's WEDNESDAY!!"

Most importantly though, you have really made me think about meals differently. I am a meat lover, but I try to eat only "happy" meat now that I'm in a position to afford it. You have really made me think about how I can create a delicious, nourishing, and truly satisfying meal without meat. Thanks!


This looks delicious! And split pea soup is surprisingly good for breakfast.

Wendy Woolf | 2:30 PM

Thank you, guys, you made my day!

Barb..the best way to freeze soups and other foods is to use freezer ziplock bags and fill about 3/4 full, close the zip lock bag around a straw, and suck out all of the air. (I put the straw in the corner). You keep sucking as you close it the rest of the way. This takes some getting used to, but it is cheaper than buying a vacuum freezer thingy. You need to have the air out of the bag and then no freezer burn. Also, I put the ziplock bags in a tall tupperware container, folding the edge over the rim, when I pour in the soup.

Tara | 3:28 PM

I've never given split pea soup much of a shot (mostly because of the ham), but with all these lovely root veggies involved it sounds absolutely delicious! As a vegetarian household, soups are also one of our staple foods, especially during hibernation months. I can't wait to try this recipe!

lynn | 3:41 PM

green peas are so PRETTY! much nicer than ugly brown lentils.

Anonymous | 4:07 PM

I love you bowls! They are so cute. I want cute bowls. Ebay here I come.

Barb | 8:30 AM

Thanks, Wendy! I'm going to try it!

Connie S. | 6:19 AM

I made the soup! I went the slow-cooker route and it worked so well. I was super surprised at how much the soup thickened when it sat in the fridge all day. It was so comforting and was perfect with some slices of fresh bread to dip into it.

I've tried a few of your other recipes, and so when my husband asks, "Where did we find this one?" I will say simply, "Oh-it's a Wendy recipe." And he goes, "Ooh. Those are always good." :)

Each of your recipes has ended up in "The Book" (Which is a giant blank book where we transcribe any recipes we find that are our very favorites-it saves on having folders of clippings and print-outs.).

Thanks Again!

Wendy Woolf | 6:33 PM

Dear Connie,

THANK YOU for your sweet comment. What a good idea to make a notebook. I made a cookbook for my son David when he went off to grad school but haven't made one for myself. Think I'll try it!

Stephanie | 2:25 PM

I've had this bookmarked for forever, and I am finally making it today! I may add a little curry powder, but I am going to make it exactly as instructed and then see how if curry would be a nice flavor addition. I'll certainly report back if it works well.
And I have to echo everyone when they say how inspiring this Eat Well series is. Everything on the GGC site is amazing (the music, the writing, the pictures, and so forth), and this cooking series really brings it to an amazing level!
Keep being awesome, ladies!

Anonymous | 11:16 PM

Dear Wendy,
I LOVE WWW Wednesdays! Seriously, I look forward to them! I make all your recipes, but I have to tell you---my husband is OBSESSED with this soup. Like, I'll come home and he will have made a triple batch of this. It might be his favorite dinner in the entire world! Neither of us had pea soup as kids, but we're vegetarians so this is perfect. His birthday is tomorrow and guess what he wants for his birthday dinner? This soup. :)

Wendy Woolf | 7:22 PM

Dear Anonymous,

Yay!! I'm so happy that your husband loves the soup!! It's my all time favorite, too. I never get tired of it. Have a happy holiday and birthday celebration!