Yellow Split Pea Soup

Soup and Stew1-PotGluten-FreeVegan

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.

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: A number of you have mentioned 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: 2 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
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 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
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, 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, salt, 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 and lemon juice.

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, and add more water if the soup seems too thick.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

6 Taste the soup for seasoning: Add more salt, black pepper, or lemon juice, if you like.

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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18 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Angelacowardin

    Anyone tried doing this in a crockpot?

  • Lisa

    I just cooked this soup, minus the olive oil, ginger, lemon juice … it came out good. No trouble had with hard peas.

  • Keith Dorwick

    Hiya. A trick I picked up somewhere: add a level teaspoon of baking soda to the pot before adding the beans. Your beans will get nice and tender within forty minutes to an hour. The baking soda changes the pH and makes the beans soften without presoaking.

  • Chris

    Haven’t tried this yet, but legumes (peas, lentils and beans) don’t soften in acidic water, so the lemon juice should only be added after the 1 1/2 hours of cooking, after the peas are softened. In fact, a little baking soda can be used to remove the natural acidity of the veggies used. If cooking fluid is neutral to slightly basic, the legumes will soften easily and nicely. Acidity is introduced to legumes after cooking to remove the sliminess that can be off-putting. Some people prefer vinegar (or hot sauce) to lemon juice. Personally I use both. Again, only add it after the soup is done, then cook another 10 minutes. That’s also a good time to add the cilantro (or spinach) to give just a wilt before serving.

    Hope that helps!

  • Maria Lockhart

    I cooked this soup for the almost 2 hours and my lentils also turned out hard and the soup came out pretty bland. Is it possible that using the 8 cups of water thats written above is wrong? Please review the recipe as it seems im the 3rd person this has happened to.

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