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Split peas (Recipe: vegan split pea soup with challah croutons)

Updated in part from an archived post, with new photos, links, and printer-friendly recipe.

Split pea soup with challah croutons

Do your split peas measure up?

We have standards, after all. By we, I mean the US Department of Agriculture, which has twenty-five pages of standards governing the appearance (size, color, and robustness) of whole dry peas, split peas and lentils.

Gives the term "taste police" a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

Split peas are a variety of field pea grown specifically for drying; they're harvested at a later point of maturity than ordinary garden peas, stripped of their husks, and split along a natural seam. Most of what we see in the markets in the US and Europe are green splits (from varieties that have green-colored cotyledons) and yellow splits (from varieties that have, yes, yellow cotyledons).

Green split peas

Dry split peas contain more starch than fresh peas. Generally, the yellow splits are a bit milder in flavor, and they are very slightly higher in calories, protein, and carbs.

One advantage of split peas over whole is that the splits don't require a presoak before cooking. Another plus is that they can be stored for months (I've had these for more than a year) at room temperature, in an airtight container. Be sure to pick through before using, and remove any small stones.

Split peas don't have much flavor of their own, but there's plenty of flavor in yellow split-pea soup with sweet potatoes and kale, kicked up coconut split pea soup, split pea soup with chicken sausage and carrots, split pea and green banana soup, and Afghan-inspired split pea and okra stew.

Split pea soup

Vegan split pea soup with challah croutons

Make this with green or yellow splits, whichever you have in the pantry. You can add chunks of smoked turkey or cooked sausage at the end, if you're not serving this for a meatless meal. In a slow cooker, this soup couldn't be easier. You can make it on the stovetop, too. Serves 6.


1 lb (2 cups) green or yellow split peas
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp thyme leaf
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
2 Tbsp of your favorite hickory-smoked barbecue sauce
5-1/2 cups water


Place all ingredients in a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Set to HIGH and cook for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, stir the soup. The split peas should have broken down to make a chunky soup with great consistency. Taste and adjust for seasoning (more salt, more pepper, more BBQ sauce). If you want a smoother soup, transfer the contents of the slow cooker to a food processor (in batches, if necessary) and pulse to desired smoothness.

If you're adding smoked turkey chunks or cooked sausage, stir it in after the soup has reached the desired consistency.

To make the croutons: Cut 2-3 slices of challah (or brioche) into 1-inch cubes. Toss with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Toast in a frying pan over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the croutons are crisp on all sides.

Serve the soup hot, topped with croutons.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Split pea, sausage and preserved lemon soup
One of everything lentil soup
Lentil noodle soup
Sweet potato, lentil and raisin stew

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I love split pea soup! Thanks for this recipe--it makes a nice change from the ham-hock soups I grew up with.

I'm glad somebody is policing the status of split peas! I'm a fan. I made a big batch and used the leftover Christmas ham for flavoring. Delicious!

If you get the chance can you share the stovetop directions please......for those of us lacking the basics: a la slow cookers LOL

Perfect timing. Not only did I buy some some split peas at Whole Foods yesterday for a slow cooker meal during this workweek but I also bought the exact same agave nectar shown in the prior two previous posts. I was going to stick a ham hock in teh split pea soup but think I'll go the hickory smoke bbq sauce flavor instead to lighten it up a bit. And with regards to the latter product, I knew agave nectar was good for you but I wasn't sure of the details. Thanks for the info.

Interesting to learn about the humble split pea, definitely a pantry staple.
I have a cracked molar to attest to the fact that one has to sort through split peas and lentils!

This is the second split pea soup that I've seen this morning. Maybe blogger fate is trying to tell me something!

i bet my hubby would love it!

I'm nuts about split pea soup. It's something I've enjoyed from the time I was a kid; even when all the other kids in the family turned their nose up at it, I always liked it. So budget-friendly, and so many delicious ways to make it.

I latched onto this recipe when you first posted it and have made it many times. It is so easy and delicious. Very comforting in this cold weather.

This is hilarious, I posted a Split pea recipe today as well. Yours looks delish.

That's looks delicious. Never had split pea soup before. I'm going to book mark it to make it. :)

You had me at challah croutons...

I've been getting back into split peas lately, too. I love the soup, but also just as a vegetaable side dish. Never thought of adding the barbecue sauce!

The croutons look amazing. I am definetly going to make this!

The soup looks so comforting. Love the croutons too!

Kate, Katie: As a non-pork eater, I had to find a way to get the smoky flavor into those split peas. Barbecue sauce is a great substitute.

TW, this is definitely a case of government gone mad. Really, 25 pages about legumes?

Milton, it's just as easy on the stove. Just dump all of the ingredients into a pot, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, and cook, partially covered, for one hour or until the split peas fall apart and the soup reaches the thickness you like.

Rosie, sounds like you are in for some delicious cooking. Have fun!

Natashya, ouch! I fear the stones, though they are much less common than they used to be.

Pam, Noble Pig: It is, unofficially, Split Pea Soup Week!

Susan, hope so.

Kalyn, this soup is absolutely budget friendly. I love the version you posted on your blog this week, too. (See? Split Pea Soup Week!)

Janel, easy is the key word, and in the slow cooker, even easier. So glad you've been enjoying the recipe.

Cooking Ninja, I think you'll like this one. You can always puree it to make a smooth soup, too.

Sandie, Daryl, Maria: You found me out. The soup is really just a vehicle for those enormous croutons!

I made this last night. It was very tasty, but the peas were al dente LOL. I'll have to tweak the water/time part of the directions. For so few ingredients its amazing what a big taste you get. Oh, one more thing: the challah bread just made it perfectly right with its hint of sweetness

thanks again.

I just had split peas a couple of days ago. I love them and they are so light and easy to cook. I have never had them with croutons though. I am going to have to give that a try! Thanks for sharing!

Split pea soup is always a source of happy for me. My husband's grandmother always makes split pea soup immediately following Easter using the leftover ham/ham bone... and we all look forward to it every year!

I love the croutons! I always need some sort of crunch texture in split pea soup and this sounds perfect. I will definitely try next time on my recipe, thanks!

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