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This vegetarian split pea soup is made with a touch of liquid smoke in place of the traditional ham. It’s a filling, easy plant based meal!

Vegetarian split pea soup
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There’s nothing quite like a comforting bowl of soup. And how about split pea soup? It’s the cozy equivalent of blueberry pancakes or mac and cheese, right? This soup is one of our favorite healthy dinner recipes! It’s not only hearty and delicious, but it’s also incredibly easy to make. Here we’ve used a trick to substitute for the traditional ham hock, leaving a smoky nuance to this vegetarian split pea soup. Alex’s mom often makes this meal for family, so it gives us all the cozy familial vibes. It’s a filling, easy whole food plant based (WFPB) meal that everyone will love!

Got a pressure cooker? Go to Instant Pot Split Pea Soup.

Vegetarian split pea soup

How to make vegetarian split pea soup

Of course, the easiest way to make vegetarian split pea soup is to buy a bag of split peas with a flavoring packet and just add water. But when experimenting with our own recipe, we found that simply adding some sautéed onions and garlic to a vegetable broth base gives great flavor. We also added some liquid smoke to mimic the ham that normally gives the soup flavor.

Cooking down the split peas in this soup causes them to disintegrate into a thick, stew-like texture. We used an immersion blender to blend our vegetarian split pea soup a bit after cooking, but not too much – we like to keep it fairly chunky.

If you don’t have any liquid smoke, feel free to omit it or try adding a pinch of chipotle powder instead. Chipotle powder is spicy yet smoky; you won’t need much of it, but if you’re craving that ham-like, smoky flavor it’ll do the trick. If you’d like, you can garnish with smoked paprika, which also adds a subtle smokiness to this dish.

Split peas

What are split peas?

So, what are split peas? Split peas are a type of legume (like 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, or you can buy split peas online. With a shelf life of 2 to 3 years, they’re a fantastic healthy ingredient to stock up on!

Want to eat more peas? Go to our Best Peas Recipes.

Want to use up that liquid smoke?

If you’ve just bought liquid smoke for this recipe, we have a few others that use it! Here are a few ways to use it up:

Vegetarian split pea soup

How to serve vegetarian split pea soup

Serve this vegan and vegetarian split pea soup with some crusty bread, biscuits (or vegan biscuits), or a simple side salad for a full meal. It keeps well in the fridge for up to five days, and it actually tastes better the longer it sits! If you don’t want to fuss with making sides, enjoy this soup by itself and crush up some crackers to stir in. This recipe makes enough for four good-sized servings, so you should have plenty to eat.

Saving leftovers

To freeze this soup for later, let it cool completely to room temperature before pouring it into a freezer-safe container. Glass jars and freezer bags would both work well, but really anything will work. We like to freeze soups in individual portions so we can thaw out exactly the amount we need for a single serving. This vegetarian split pea soup will last for a few months in the freezer, and it reheats beautifully.

This vegetarian split pea soup recipe is…

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

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Instant pot split pea soup

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


This vegetarian split pea soup is made with a touch of liquid smoke in place of the traditional ham. It’s a filling, easy plant based meal!


  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound split peas
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper


  1. Chop the onion and carrots. Mince the garlic. (If you’ve got a pressure cooker, head to Instant Pot Split Pea Soup for the next step.)
  2. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and carrots and saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic and split peas and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 to 55 minutes, until the split peas fall apart and the soup becomes thickened. If you’d like, with a hand-held immersion blender, pulse a few times to yield a smoother yet still chunky texture. 
  4. Stir in the liquid smoke, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Garnish with smoked paprika if desired.
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Looking for more vegan and vegetarian soup recipes?

Still craving cozy? Here are some of our coziest vegan soup and vegetarian soup recipes:

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 for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Paul in Sacramento says:

    Yum! Don’t hesitate, make this. I make all winter long. It even tastes good when I don’t have liquid smoke on hand. Somehow it has a ham flavor taste even without the ham! Such a warm feel good recipe with such few ingredients. If you don’t have a blender, just simmer it for a bit longer. It will break down and be creamy.
    I wish this site had more reviews. I depend on this feedback to choose recipes.
    Is the lack of reviews because the recipe authors don’t respond much compared to other sites? Just curious.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I’m not sure why there are not tons of reviews! Sorry :)

  2. Neena Petersen says:

    A quick and excellent soup. I’m making it a permanent addition to my soup list—thank you!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve made split pea soup many times but this recipe was awesome. I had ham left over from Easter dinner so threw some in as well as a pork hock I found in the freezer. With the liquid smoke, it is a winner.

  4. zendegy says:

    Great recipe. I disike liquid smoke, but black cardamom has a favor that does a surprisingly good imitation of ham.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Excellent recipe! I’ve made vegetarian split pea soup many times but this is by far the most simple and tasty of them all!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thank you!

  6. Leah Morrigan says:

    Thanks for this recipe – it is easy and delicious! This vegan supports the liquid smoke alternative to pork. :)

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