Recipe Flash: The Simplest Split Pea


WEEKNIGHT MENU: For a step up from regular crusty bread, bake Sausage-Tomato Focaccia for dipping. For a complete meal for others, serve alongside a large slice of Celeriac, Leek, and Sundried Tomato Frittata.

This split pea soup is based off of the version at 101 Cookbooks, but I’ve simplified it even more. There, Heidi leaves out the traditional mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery), and she opts instead to highlight only the sweetness of the onions with a bunch of fresh or frozen peas mixed in with the split peas.

I’ve omitted even the fresh peas, and in my minimalist rendition of the soup, the taste that comes through is really of the split peas’ satisfying earthiness. This pared-down flavor is given zest by the topping of tasty olive oil, smoked paprika, and thyme.

Like other legume-based soups and stews, this one gets thicker as it sits in your refrigerator. That’s why my father’s family nicknamed split pea soup “cement soup,” and probably why I refused to taste this dish until last year. So, if you’re reheating leftovers, definitely thin out the concrete with some extra water.

From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,



Simplest Split Pea Soup
Serves 2-3

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup split peas
3 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (or fresh lemon juice)
2 teaspoons very good quality olive oil
smoked paprika and thyme for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sautee for about 5 minutes, until they are just turning translucent. Add the salt, the peas, and the water, and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes, until the peas are soft but not mushy.

Let the soup cool slightly, then transfer half of it to a food processor or a blender and blend until smooth. Return to the pot, reheat to desired temperature, and stir in the vinegar or lemon juice. Taste for salt, then ladle into bowls. Garnish with the olive oil, paprika, thyme, and a grind or two of pepper.

Posted in: Recipe Flash
  • Kate

    This is my favorite type of soup! I really like adding a bit of smoked ham to make it a more substantial meal. I cannot believe it took you until last year to eat it, it was always my favorite!!

  • Samantha

    I love this recipe, Heidi has lots of great soup recipes.

    I made her Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup Monday night with the pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe's (that are in the produce section).

    I was going to make split pea soup tonight, but the carrots I just bought from the farmer's market changed dinner plans to this carrot and rice soup (

  • Joanne

    Soup sounds great and quick! But, I'm not familiar with "smoked paprika." Can you tell me a little bit about it–what brand(s) you like and what else you might use it for?

  • shayma

    just what one needs, it's so cold today. great post.

  • Phoebe and Cara, the Quarter-Life Cooks

    Joanne–Spanish smoked paprika (also known as Pimenton)is much more complex and full than the regular paprika in your spice cabinet. If you've ever had paella in Spain, pimenton is what gives this dish its authentic flavor profile. It's hard to describe, but it's great for a rich smoky taste, especially with marinated or smoked meats. I currently have a jar from Penzey's, in Grand Central Market.

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