Growing up, soup came from a can with a red and white label. I would refuse to eat it if was anything but chicken noodle or tomato. The idea of a soup made with peas was too disgusting to handle. Peas were one of my least favorite foods, and there was NO WAY I was going to eat a soup made out of them. That was fine though, because my parents didn’t seem to like the idea either, and my mom never bought it.
In my teens, my mom and I stayed with family friends briefly, after moving back to New Jersey from the Midwest. Sometimes we ate with them, sometimes my mom cooked out own meals. I remember one day sitting down to dinner and they were eating pea soup. With slices of hot dogs floating in it. I was offered a bowl and couldn’t turn it down fast enough. Just watching them eating it turned my stomach.
I guess those hot dog slices were a replacement for the ham hocks that are traditionally used in making split pea soup, although I didn’t know it at the time.
Somehow, over the years split pea soup has become one of my favorites. Vegan-style, without the ham or hotdogs, of course. I’m not really sure how it happened, but I think it was because Dennis has always enjoyed it.
I was recently buying containers of vegan split pea soup at Trader Joe’s. The casher looked at them and said, “this just isn’t the same without the ham hocks.” I told her that I’m vegan, so I wouldn’t eat it with ham, and her response was, “Oh, so you’re missing out!” No. No, I’m not. There’s just no need for that.
While it is a favorite, I don’t usually make my own split pea soup. I’ve been buying the containers of fresh (well, freshish) soup at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s weekly throughout the winter. A container of soup at Whole Foods is $8.99, and it contains two servings. Recently I noticed that a pound bag of split peas is about 3 bucks, and it has about 9 or 10 servings. Clearly, something needs to be done about my soup habit.
Vegan split pea soup is actually ridiculously easily to make, and it only needs a few ingredients. It’s also extremely cost effective.
Unlike most other beans, split peas don’t need to be soaked. When working with them, you should sort through them first, to make sure there are no small stones or other non-pea items in the mix. It’s a good idea to give them a rinse, too.
Most split pea soup recipes call for celery. While I do like adding celery to salads for a little crunch, I’m not fond of eating it cooked, so I’ve left it out. I’ve added a diced potato for heartiness. And I’ve replaced that nasty ham hock with a little bit of tempeh bacon.
Some split pea soup recipes call for a chopped onion, but I’ve used a leek here. Leeks are in the same family as the onion, and they have a milder flavor. They’re a good option when you want a little bit of onion, but don’t want it to overpower your dish. Leeks can be really dirty, so make sure you wash them well. I clean them by slicing them and placing the slices in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. The slices are then scooped up, placed in a colander and rinsed.
(Sorry about the cheesy pun.)
- First, sauté the leek, garlic, and carrots in a large pot.
- Then, add the potatoes, split peas, vegetable stock, and spices.
- Next, bring the soup to a boil. Once it’s boiled, you reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.
- After 60 minutes or so, your soup is done! You can serve it with chopped cooked tempeh, if you like.
I prefer my soup with peas that are super mushy to the point where they’re no longer really peas. The amount of time your soup will need to cook will depend on the consistency you like. If you want your split peas to still resemble split peas, your soup will probably be done in about 60 minutes. It will take a little longer if, like me, you prefer a creamier soup.
Vegan Split Pea Soup
- 1 teaspoon neutral-flavored oil
- 1 leek, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 ½ cups dried split peas
- 1 medium-sized potato, diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
- ½ cup chopped tempeh bacon, cooked, optional
Add the oil to a large stock pot over medium-high heat, and then add the leek, garlic, and carrots to the pot. Cook until the vegetables are soft and have browned slightly, about 10 minutes.
Add the stock, split peas, potato, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cover the pot and allow the soup to simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the peas have softened, the potatoes are tender, and the soup has reached the desired consistency.
Serve hot topped with chopped tempeh bacon.