Yellow Split Pea Soup


Yellow split pea soup with Indian curry spices. Bright, flavorful, and filling! Vegetarian and gluten-free.

Photography Credit: Sheryl Julian and Emma Christensen

As winter soups go, split pea is definitely in the stick-to-your-ribs category.

Recently, I discovered that green split peas also come in a yellow variety. Simmer these along with a handful of Indian spices, and you have a bright, filling vegetarian supper.

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Yellow Split Pea SoupLook for yellow split peas at any well-stocked grocery store, especially one with a good selection of Indian ingredients. Store any split peas not used for this recipe in an airtight container in a cool place and use with a year.

Develop the flavor in this simple soup by cooking some onion, celery, garlic, and fresh ginger in the pot before adding the spices (turmeric, cumin, and coriander!).

Stir the yellow peas into the mixture, then let this soup simmer for a full hour and a half.

The peas grow in the pot (and they thicken even more if you store the soup overnight), so add more water whenever you need to maintain a soupy consistency.

Soup should nourish and warm you in the chilly months. Bowls of yellow split peas, garnished with yogurt or sour cream, a sprinkle of cilantro, and pepitas for salty crunch, fill the belly in the most pleasant way.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re having trouble with split peas that don’t seem to soften despite hours of simmering. The likely cause is old or expired split peas. Even if you just bought your split peas, who knows how long they’ve been sitting on the shelf — or in a warehouse before they were on the shelf! There’s not really a good way to tell if your split peas are still good. Our best advice is to purchase split peas from a reputable grocery store where it seems like turnover on beans and legumes is high. These stores are more likely to have reliably fresh split peas.

Yellow Split Pea Soup Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 pound (2 1/4 cups) yellow split peas
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) water, or more if needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 4 tablespoons), or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream, to serve (optional; omit if making a vegan soup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, to serve
  • 3 tablespoons roasted, salted pepitas, to serve


1 Cook the root vegetables and seasonings: In a soup pot over medium heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, celery, garlic, ginger, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, until the onions are looking translucent and softened.

2 Add the hot pepper and spices: Stir in the jalapeno or other hot pepper, turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

3 Stir in the split peas. Continue stirring until they are coated all over with spices.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

4 Pour in the water and bring to a boil, stirring. Add the bay leaf.

5 Simmer the soup: Cover the pot and let the soup bubble gently for 1 1/2 hours, until most of the split peas have fallen apart and are tender.

Stir the soup occasionally. If the soup looks like it has broken down at this point, add the salt, stir and cook for another half an hour until the soup looks thick and creamy then move on to step 6.

If your split peas still feel firm cook for an additional 30-60 minutes (2 1/2 -3 hours total cooking time) before adding the salt. Add more water if the soup seems too thick.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

6 Taste the soup for seasoning: Once the split peas are tender, add the lemon juice, plus additional salt and black pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

7 Serve the soup: Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, and pepitas.

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Sheryl Julian

Sheryl Julian is an award-winning writer, editor, and food stylist. She is the former food editor of The Boston Globe, co-author of The Way We Cook, and editor of The New Boston Globe Cookbook. Her food sections won Best Newspaper Food Coverage from the Association of Food Journalists in 2015.

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28 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Tanya

    It’s a great light soup. Very easy to make.


  2. Leesara

    I’m a confident and capable cook but I cooked these peas for hours and they never cooked through enough to be edible. I’m contemplating having to put the whole batch into the compost. So disappointing.

    Show Replies (1)
  3. KP

    I’ve made this twice now and it’s delicious. But not nearly as bright yellow as your photos–quite a bit darker. I wish it looked as appetizing as yours.

    Show Replies (2)
  4. Rose

    This is an amazing recipe… family ate entire pot….


  5. Ayad Mohamed

    Calories, please!

    Show Replies (1)
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