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This Instant Pot split pea soup is the ultimate meal: it’s filling, plant based, and easy to make in a pressure cooker. It’s a tasty, healthy vegan dinner recipe!

Instant pot split pea soup
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Split pea soup might sound humble, but it’s pretty much the perfect meal. Really, split pea soup? Yes, this tasty soup has lots of virtues. First of all, it’s delicious: full of cozy, lightly smoky flavor. It’s a whole food plant based recipe (WFPB) and because split peas have lots of plant-based protein, it’s very filling. Best of all, it’s very easy to make! If you use your pressure cooker to make split pea soup, all you’ll need is about 15 minutes of active time: then it’s totally hands off!

Want to make it on the stovetop? Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Tips for making Instant Pot split pea soup

This vegan Instant Pot split pea soup has a cozy, nostalgic feel for me. I think it’s because Alex’s mom often makes this tasty soup for soup nights, so it gives me a familial feel. This soup is often made with ham or bacon, but we’ve swapped that out for a little liquid smoke. The great thing about split peas is that they’re packed with plant based protein, so this vegan soup stays filling without the meat! Here are a few tips for making it:

  • Feel free to grab extra bags of split peas. Because we know that you’ll love it, we suggest grabbing a few pounds of split peas so you can make this soup often. Did you know split peas are shelf stable for 2 to 3 years? Yep, it’s perfect for stocking your pantry for nutritious meals in a hurry.
  • Use the Saute function for the aromatics. First, you’ll dice onion, carrot, and celery: traditionally called aromatics because they add a fantastic underlying aroma to soups.
  • Dump, set it and forget it. Then, you’ll add the remaining ingredients and pressure cook on High for 15 minutes. That’s it! Remember that the pot will take about 10 to 15 minutes to come up to pressure before it starts cooking.
Instant Pot split pea soup

What to serve with this split pea soup?

There are lots of things to serve with this Instant Pot split pea soup! Here are some of our favorite ideas:

split peas

What are split peas?

So, you might be wondering: what are split peas? Are they the same as lentils, or different? Well, split peas and lentils are both legumes. But split peas are a different type of legume from lentils. They’re a field pea, a pea grown for drying, It’s a special type of dried pea that is split in half, making it break down easily into a thick, soup like consistency when cooked.

Split peas are available at most grocery stores. You can also often find them in the bulk bins, or buy split peas online. As we mentioned above, the shelf life of split peas is 2 to 3 years! So it’s a great healthy ingredient to stock up on.

Instant pot split pea soup

Instead of ham, liquid smoke.

Traditional split pea soup often has ham or bacon. For our version of Instant Pot split pea soup, we wanted to make it a vegan, whole food plant based recipe. So to mimic a little of the smoky flavor of ham and bacon, we’ve used liquid smoke instead! It’s a small jar and you can usually find it near the condiments in the grocery store.

Is liquid smoke synthetic? No, it’s actually a natural product made from condensing the smoke from burning wood. How cool is that? You’ll find that it’s fairly strong, so use it sparingly. The amount we’ve used here adds a little undertone to our Instant Pot split pea soup, but not so much that it’s overwhelmingly smoky.

Other recipes using liquid smoke? Easy Tempeh Bacon, How to Make Coconut Bacon

Split peas

What kind of Instant Pot to use?

All pressure cooker brands vary! The brand we use is an Instant Pot 6 Qt Programmable Pressure Cooker. This recipe is customized for a 6 quart pressure cooker. We also can’t speak to other brands and types of pressure cookers. For example, Instant Pot Mini works differently, so use it at your own risk!

More Instant Pot whole food plant based (WFPB) recipes?

Whole food plant based recipes can be some of the tastiest dinners around: and they’re easy to make in the Instant Pot! Head to our Whole Food Plant Based Diet Guide for more recipes, or check out a few of these favorite Instant Pot soups:

  • Instant Pot Vegan Chili: This chili is so tasty, featuring two types of beans and lentils for added texture. Top with cashew cream for fully plant-based toppings.
  • Instant Pot Lentil Soup: This ultra cozy soup stars fennel, fire roasted tomatoes, and lentils: it’s an easy vegetarian meal that everyone will love!
  • Instant Pot Wild Rice Soup Recipe: This soup is impossibly creamy, packed with flavor and full of tender veggies and hearty rice. Everyone asks for the recipe—it’s that good.

This Instant Pot split pea soup recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, and vegan.

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Instant pot split pea soup

Easy Instant Pot Split Pea Soup

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.8 from 12 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
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This Instant Pot split pea soup is the ultimate meal: filling, plant based, and easy to make in a pressure cooker. It’s a tasty healthy vegan dinner recipe!


  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound split peas
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Fresh ground pepper


  1. Finely chop the onion. Finely chop the carrots and celery.
  2. Turn on Saute mode and add the olive oil to the Instant Pot. When it is heated, add the onion, celery and carrots and saute for 7 minutes until the onions are softened. Add the broth, kosher salt and split peas to the Instant Pot. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
  3. Cook on High Pressure for 15 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes 10 to 15 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. (During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  4. Quick release: Vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Open the pressure cooker lid.
  5. Add the final flavorings: Stir in the grated garlic (you can grate right into the pot) and liquid smoke, some fresh ground pepper. Add a little more kosher salt if you’d like. Allow to cool and thicken for about 10 minutes before serving (it thickens as it cools). Garnish with hot sauce. Serve with crushed crackers or biscuits
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Plant Based

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Brent says:

    Made this today, with ham. So good!

  2. Tabitha Russell says:

    The flavor is good but the peas aren’t cooked all the way. I cooked it for the time stated in the recipe but it wasn’t long enough.

  3. Jen H says:

    Thanks for this great recipe! If I double the recipe, do I need to change the cooking time(s) for sauté or pressure cooking? Thanks!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      You’d only be able to double if you have a large instant pot! The saute should be about the same, but reduce the pressure time by 2 or 3 minutes because it will take longer to come to pressure with more ingredients.

  4. MitsyBaby says:

    Really liked this recipe as am a vegetarian. The only thing I found, which initially thought when perusing the recipe, is there is a lot more liquid than am used to for a split pea soup. Generally the ones I have had are on the thicker side. Next time will reduce the vegetable stock to 1.5 quarts to compensate for a thicker base. But otherwise a very nice recipe so easy to make in the Instant Pot. Thx.

  5. Hu Ami says:

    Does this soup freeze well? We’re trying to find our favorite recipes for freezer meals.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:


  6. Jam says:

    I added about double celery, 6 cloves garlic to sautée with veggies until soft and a little burned. Also added 1tsp smoked paprika. Deglazed pot with water, got all the stuck bits off. IP high pressure 17m, 15m natural release, then quick release, added liquid smoke and used stick blender to purée. Yum! Also used water with veg stock concentrate from penzys.

  7. Joe Phaneuf says:

    Awesome pea soup. I’ll make this again. Spouse says 👍🏼👍🏼

  8. Kathy McAlpin says:

    When should you add jam hi ks, if you prefer them?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Are you referring to ham hocks? This is a vegetarian recipe so we don’t have experience with using ham hocks here!

  9. Amy says:

    We LOVE this recipe in our house!! The liquid smoke is the key.

  10. Jen says:

    So easy, delicious and love the protein content. The liquid smoke takes it to the next level!

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