A simple, hearty soup to warm the soul. Thick, creamy, loaded with vegetables and bursting with rich smoky bacon flavor, this soup boasts the benefit of being not just delicious but also both healthy and nutritious.
Honestly this soup is incredibly simple to make but I’m sure many of your have some questions about the soup and its ingredients so I’ll try to answer them as best as I can. Feel free to skip this part and jump right to the recipe itself (the easiest way is to use the “Jump to Recipe” button at the top of the post).
Let’s Talk about Peas!
Green Split Pea vs Green Pea?
Split peas are a type of field pea that is grown and matured specifically for the purpose of being dried which gives them a longer shelf life. The peas are shelled/removed from their pods, and then split in half before being dried. In order to enjoy split peas, you need to boil them to make them edible and once cooked they make a thick and creamy mixture or soup.
Fun Fact! Split peas and other dried beans such as chickpeas (garbanzo) and lentils are known as pulses which are dry, edible seed legumes.
Green peas on the other hand are also known as Garden Peas or Sweet Peas, and are the more commonly used version of the pea since it is soft and round and usually eaten raw or cooked. This is the pea that you’ll usually find frozen in bags or in your cans of peas (or peas and carrots). Making it into soup is also very popular but soups made from green peas usually call for some type of cream to be added to help achieve a thick and creamy texture.
Split Peas vs Lentils?
While both split peas and lentils are members of the legume family and are usually bought dried, the difference between them lies in the flavor, the cook and the plant itself. Lentils such as the green or brown variety are smaller and flatter than split peas. When cooked, they have a skin-like coating that separates from the seed.
Split peas on the other hand are semi-circular and do not contain that outer skin. Split peas are creamier and sweeter than lentils but both options are a great and healthy diet choice and lentils are honestly one of my favorite legumes and the stars of some of my dishes like this Mujadara or this Quinoa and Lentil Beef Stew or even this simple Coconut Lentil Stew.
Yellow Split Peas vs Green Split Peas?
There is little difference (nutritionally) between these two varieties and aside from the color the only notable difference is that yellow split peas tend to have a deeper and more earthy flavor to them compared to green split peas that have a milder and sweeter flavor. In recipes that call for split peas, either type can be used and the main difference in the final product will most likely be the color. You can see a bit of a contrast of the color in my Yellow Dhal recipe.
Is This Soup Healthy?
Yes! Split peas are naturally high in protein and fiber, and low in fat with a moderate carb count. Paired with the fresh herbs and veggies, and the wholesome broth, this soup is both healthy and nutritious for you!
💕 Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:
- This recipe is so very simple to make.
- It uses wholesome, fresh and simple ingredients.
- You can customize the spices, flavoring and vegetables used to suit your preference.
- This soup is gluten-free, keto-friendly and clean eating.
- You can enjoy this dish as a side, starter or as the main course.
- The texture of the soup can be adjusted to be smooth and creamy or thick and chunky depending on your preference.
- This soup is high in (plant) protein, fiber and many other minerals and nutrients such as potassium, manganese and other amino acids.
To Make This Simple Soup You’ll Need the Following:
- Split Peas: You can use yellow or green split peas. Today I’m using the green variety.
- Broth: You can use any broth or stock of your choosing. Chicken bone broth/stock or vegetable stock are great options.
- Bacon: You can use any bacon of your choosing. I’m using thick cut hickory smoked bacon.
- Vegetables, Herbs & Spices: these ingredients are customizable but here are the ones I like to use.
- Carrots: Whole raw carrots, we’ll finely dice them.
- Celery: Fresh sticks of raw celery will be finely diced. If preferred you can opt to use a tsp of celery seeds instead.
- Onion: I’m using red onion but you can also use yellow or white – whatever you have on hand.
- Garlic: Whole, fresh cloves of garlic will be finely minced. In a pinch you can opt to use dehydrated garlic.
- Bell Pepper: You can use any color bell pepper of your choosing. I had red on hand but you can also use green, orange, or yellow.
- Thyme: Fresh or dried, you can use fine thyme or even Spanish thyme. The flavor of this herb pairs well with all other ingredients.
- Parsley: Curly or Italian, parsley bring a bright pop of freshness to the soup.
- Salt: You may not even need any salt as both the bacon and broth contains salt but if you do you can use a Pink Himalayan or a sea salt, to taste.
- Pepper: Pre-ground or fresh ground, black pepper adds a nice earthy spice. Alternatively you can use white pepper or even ground chipotle spice.
Do I Have To Use Bacon?🥓
Only if you want to, but note that the bacon adds both taste and texture to the soup as well as flavor.
That being said, you can opt to make the more traditional version by cooking the peas and broth with a ham hock and then removing the hock, stripping the meat off and adding it back to the soup along with the veggies that have been sauteed in oil/butter. Or you can even replace the bacon with cubed ham or even pancetta cooked in oil/ butter. Or, you can serve your soup with pan fried Italian sausage if you like.
Do I Need To Soak My Peas Before Making This Recipe?
You honestly don’t need to, a thorough rinse to remove and dirt, dust or residue before boiling them will suffice.
HOWEVER! You absolutely can pre-soak your beans and doing so can serve 2 benefits:
- Reduce the cook time by softening the beans.
- It will make you less gassy (to put it delicately) – In softening the peas they will release oligosaccharides which is a type of sugar (mainly raffinose and stachyose) that our body can’t naturally digest. This sugar is what sits in our stomachs, ferments, and causes gas that makes legumes notorious for being the “magical fruit that makes you toot!”📯📯📯
How To Soak Your Peas:
According to the USDA, the most efficient way to soak your beans is in water (that starts off at 170°F) with a touch of baking soda (1 tsp to 10 cups) for 8-12 hours.
Similarly, you can wash and soak your beans and drain and change the water every 3-4 hours. Or for a quicker method, bring your beans, water and baking soda to a boil, remove from the heat and let sit for 1-2 hours. Then drain them and use as directed in the recipe below.
Speaking of which…
One Pot of Soup Coming Right Up!
We’re going to start by adding our rinsed (and/or pre-soaked) split peas into a pot with our broth/stock and water. We’ll set our pot on medium heat to boil. This can take about 45 minutes for the beans to completely soften and start breaking down. Pre-soaked beans will take even less time. I don’t recommend covering your pot as peas tend to create a frothy boil that is quick to spill over.
Can I use an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker to cook my peas?
Yes! You absolutely can. Use the directed settings on your cooker and cook on high for about 15 minutes then allow the pressure to naturally release (an additional 10-15 minutes) Don’t rush the pressure release since beans and peas tend to cook up frothy you’ll risk the danger of having the HOT steam and liquid bubble out.
While your peas are cooking, prepare all the other ingredients by dicing and chopping them up.
With your ingredients prepped, begin by adding your bacon bits to a skillet and cooking it until the pieces are crispy and the fat has rendered. Remove the bacon bits from the oil in the skillet and set it aside.
To the rendered bacon fat in your skillet, add in all your other herbs and veggies (except the parsley) and saute them until fragrant and slightly softened.
With our veggies done, check on your peas to ensure that they’re softened and cooked. They should be just about falling apart and dissolving. But now comes the question…
To Blend or Not to Blend Your Soup…
That is entirely up to you. You can leave your soup chunky, or for a smooth and silky thick soup I highly recommend using an immersion blender. Be careful of splatter as your soup is boiling hot.
If you’re opting to use a blender keep in mind that the hot soup produces steam which can cause pressure to build. DO NOT USE A personal/bullet blender, instead, opt to use a jug blender, but remember to allow the steam to vent.
Another less conventional option is to use a hand mixer or even a potato masher. I’ve used both in the past and as long as you’re careful of the splatter you can achieve a relatively smooth soup!
With our soup blended, add in the sauteed veggies and the bacon fat they were cooked in. This seasons our soup and adds amazing flavor.
Since the veggies are only slightly softened/cooked, they hold their shape and color beautifully, and add a great texture to our smooth and creamy soup. All that’s left is to season your soup to taste with salt and pepper and plate and serve.
What Can I Top My Soup With?
- Crispy bacon bits.
- Our fresh parsley that we minced.
- Other fresh or dried herbs such as oregano, dill, thyme, tarragon, etc.
- A swirl of sour cream or plain Greek Yogurt.
- Spices such as smoked paprika, chipotle pepper, black pepper etc.
- A sprinkle of Crispy Fried Onions.
- Croutons. I love cubing my Cornbread Muffins and baking them low and slow to make some crunchy cornbread croutons.
What Can I Serve My Soup With?
- You can enjoy a warm bowl of soup by itself or pair it with…
- A slice of (buttered) toast which is always a classic!
- A simple flatbread like my No-Rise Garlic Naan.
- Some savory crackers of your choosing like these Cheesy Chickpea Crackers (they’re gluten free!)
- Some of these Sour Cream and Chive Cheddar Biscuits (they’re also gluten free!).
And there you have it, a simple and deliciously nutritious soup that is bursting with flavor. Hearty and comforting, it’s a great meal for a chilly day 🍲
Simple and Wholesome Green Split Pea Soup (with Bacon)
- 4 cups chicken bone broth or broth or stock
- 4 cups water
- 1 lb split peas green or yellow
- 1/2 lb thick cut bacon cut into bits and small strips
- 2 stalks celery small diced
- 1 large carrot small diced
- 1/2 medium onion finely diced (red, yellow, or white)
- 4-5 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 large bell pepper small diced
- 1 tbsp fine thyme leaves only, sticks discarded
- 2-3 tbsp fresh parsley minced
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt to taste
- 2 tsp ground black pepper to taste
- Thoroughly pick through and remove any sticks or other debris from your dried peas and then rinse your split peas multiple times and drain the water off.*See notes for soaking options.
- In a large pot add the peas, broth and water and set it on medium heat to boil and cook until the peas are softened and begin to break down. This may take about 45 minutes. Do not cover your pot as it may bubble up and overflow.
- While the peas are boiling, prep your other ingredients by finely mincing and dicing the bacon, carrots, celery, pepper, onion, garlic, parsley and picking the leaves off your fine thyme and discarding the sticks.
- In a large skillet, add the cut bacon and cook on med-high heat until the fat has rendered and the bacon bits are cooked and crispy.
- Remove the bacon bits from the pan and set it aside.
- To the skillet with the bacon fat, add in the diced celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bell pepper and thyme, and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly softened and sautéed.
- While the vegetables are cooking, check your peas. If they are cooked and softened/beginning to melt, use an immersion blender to break down the cooked and softened split peas into a smooth and creamy soup. If you like some chunks only blend it half way.
- With your soup blended, add all the contents of the skillet including the bacon fat to the soup and stir to incorporate it. Add the pepper and test taste your soup adding salt as needed.
- If your soup is too thick (note that it will thicken up more as it cools) adjust the thickness by adding more liquid (water, broth or even milk) until you get your desired consistency.
- Serve your soup topped with bits of crispy bacon and fresh parsley and pepper.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Soaking your peas:
- Overnight: rinse, drain and soak your peas in 10-12 cups of water with 1 tsp of baking soda overnight. Drain, rinse and use as needed.
- Quick method: rinse, drain and add your peas to a pot with 10-12 cups of water and 1 tsp of baking soda. Bring to a rolling boil, remove from the heat and let sit for 1-4 hours. Drain, rinse and and use as needed.
- If your soup is too salty from the broth and bacon, you can add in a tsp or two of sugar to balance the flavors out.