Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

This vegetarian split pea soup is made with a touch of liquid smoke and smoked paprika in place of the traditional ham. Perfect for a plant-based meal!

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

There’s nothing quite like a comforting bowl of soup. And how about split pea soup? It’s the cozy equivalent of blueberry pancakes and pumpkin spiced coffee, right? This vegetarian split pea soup is one of our favorite healthy dinner recipes since it’s not only hearty and delicious, but it’s also incredibly easy to make. While the pea green color makes it not the prettiest of meals, it can be very tasty when made correctly! Here we’ve used a few tricks to substitute for the traditional ham hock. Here are our secrets to the perfect vegetarian split pea soup…which it turns out is also a vegan split pea soup, too. (Score.)

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. The smoked paprika will also add a subtle smokiness to this dish, so you could mix a little bit of that into the soup as well.

Want to use up that liquid smoke? Here are a few other recipes where we use liquid smoke:

How to serve vegetarian split pea soup

Serve this vegan and vegetarian split pea soup with some crusty bread 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.


Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 1x


This vegetarian split pea soup is made smoky with a touch of liquid smoke and smoked paprika. Perfect for a winter lunch or dinner!



  • 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
  • Smoked paprika to garnish (optional)


  1. Chop 1 onion and 4 carrots. Mince 4 garlic cloves.
  2. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and carrots and saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic and 1 pound split peas and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add 8 cups vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 to 55 minutes, until the split peas fall apart and the soup becomes thickened. With a hand-held immersion blender, pulse a few times to yield a smoother yet still chunky texture.
  4. Taste, then season with 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (to taste), kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Garnish with smoked paprika if desired.

  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: vegan split pea soup

Looking for more vegan and vegetarian soup recipes?

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

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Split pea soup is one of my families favorites too! I add barley and lean pastrami to mine…

  • Reply
    January 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Yumm….I would never have thought to add liquid smoke, thanks for the tip!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Love split pea soup and love how easy it is to make!

  • Reply
    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen
    January 8, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I felt like a total dumb right now as I didn’t even know what liquid smoke was!

  • Reply
    Medifast Coupon
    January 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    This is hearty, warm and full of flavour! Great vegetarian recipe, looks delicious!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I’ve never cooked with split peas before, but I love them! I think soup is always a good place to start when using something for the first time.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Great Recipe! I saved it immediately to my online cookbook. Smoked Paprika is one of my all-time favorite spices. I esp love the addition of liquid smoke here.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Pretty spoon! I bet it makes the soup taste better…

  • Reply
    March 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I love split pea soup. I think it’s just what I need to combat this dumb cold I got from my sweetly sharing husband.

    you may want to append your directions to include when to add the carrots though :)

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