Friday, January 21, 2011

Vegetarian Split Pea soup

Sometime back I posted my go-to recipe for split pea soup and lamented the fact that it wasn't vegetarian because I start with a chicken broth base and add ham. Now, we love this soup, but our youngest is vegetarian and she misses it.

Several Mystery Lovers' Kitchen readers contacted me and pointed to a recipe online for a vegan split pea soup at The Perfect Pantry. You can find that recipe here.

Game for finding a vegetarian option, I tried it. Verdict: not bad, but not great. There was a flavor in there I didn't like. Same for our daughter. We think the thyme was misplaced, so in my version, I skip that entirely and make up for it with bay leaves and garlic powder. My husband loved it, but I thought it needed a tweak. Here's my version:

Vegetarian Split Pea soup

1 lb green split peas
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 - 3 Tbsp Hickory flavored barbecue sauce
Handful of baby carrots, added about 1-1/2 hour before serving
6 cups water

The Perfect Pantry recipe tells you to put all this in a large slow cooker set on high, then after 4 hours, transfer to a food processor to smooth it out.

Here's a photo of my attempt to do this.

It took forever for the peas to break down, and then the soup got way too thick.

Not cool.

Me, I much prefer to simmer this on my stove. This way the peas break down completely, and there's no messy transfer-to-a-food-processor-and-back to deal with. You'll need to keep an eye on this so that it doesn't get too thick too quickly. I found myself adding a bit more water, until the peas broke down completely.

What I found odd about the Perfect Pantry site, was their note "if you're adding smoked turkey or cooked sausage..." Umm... isn't their version supposed to be vegan? Made me a bit suspicious and so I double-checked my barbecue sauce to make sure it didn't include any meat by-products. Safe.

If you love pea soup, and you're not vegetarian, I suggest you check out either Krista's wonderful split pea soup for a rainy day Krista's split pea soup, or my favorite recipe Split pea soup.

This picture is actually of my original soup. For some reason, I can't find the photos we took of the vegetarian version. And now the entire pot is gone and I can't take a new one.

In any case, soup seems like the best answer to the cold, the snow, and the general yickiness outside these days.



  1. My goal this winter was to make a different crockpot soup each week. But the split pea soup turned out so good, I sorta stuck there! I use the method from EHow but my mother's ingredients. Put the pound of split peas and six cups water in the slow cooker for several hours. Saute some onion and about four sliced carrots in olive oil, add one teaspoon salt and a bay leaf, add to soup and simmer for another hour. If you like it smooth just smoosh the peas with a potato masher before adding the other ingredients. If too thick, add more water. I add crisp turkey bacon if I don't have ham.
    Now looking for a chicken tortilla soup without jalapenos and chili peppers!

  2. I've been looking for a new soup recipe and I'd like to give this a go! I like all the ingredients in your version so it sounds perfect! We've got more cold weather coming in this weekend (well...cold for *us*, which is in the 30s. I hesitate to call that cold in front of you, Julie! I'd be such a bad sport if I had to deal with some of the cold that you do!)

  3. Off topic but I just finished Buffalo West Wing and loved it - I'm about half in love with Gav myself and I'm a 61 year old grandma! My husband is on the third one and is enjoying them too. Glad they're all on Nook. When is the next White House Chef book coming out? Split pea sou -mmmmmm- I may have to make your version with ham this upcoming week end. It's very cold here in Nebraska!

  4. TNelson - Agree - Julie's latest White House Chef mystery is a wonderful read!

    TGIF, Julie - Wish I had a bowl of your soup right now. (More snow in NYC this AM. Brrrr! Split pea soup is perfect for this weather.) Love the idea of using bay leaves and garlic powder instead of the thyme, and the BBQ sauce is a very clever idea for the veggie version. Thanks for the links to the alternative soup recipes, too.

    Have a great weekend,
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Julie, LOL. Weren't we talking about this just last week? Not being able to take a picture because we ate it? We sound like kids with missing homework. Love the idea of adding the BBQ flavoring to enhance and add that smoky flavor so essential to split pea soup.

    PS - I love Buffalo West Wing, as well. It's such a fun read!


  6. CindyD - I am going to try your version. I hadn't thought of using a potato masher. The crock pot is handy, but I didn't like the consistency. Mashing could work! Thanks! I'll keep my eyes open for a good chicken tortilla soup. I haven't been able to recreate that one to my satisfaction, yet.

    Elizabeth - oh, it's cold here, all right. It doesn't really bother me all that much. Maybe it was standing out waiting for a city bus to take me to high school all those years ago (wearing a skirt, no less) that's toughened me. Maybe it's just that we all run from house to car to destination and back so fast we don't notice. Just keep the snow away and I'll be happy!

    TNelson - thank you!! I think I fell for Gav, too. He showed up in book 2 (without me planning for him) and took up a permanent spot. I'm very happy he did that! Oh - Nebraska? Yep, you know cold, for sure!

  7. Cleo - yikes, snow again? You have really been hit this year. We've had some but nowhere as much as you have. BTW, you can keep it out there! LOL Thanks for your kind words about BWW.

    Avery - you nailed it. The dog didn't eat our homework, the family did. LOL Thanks so much for reading BWW. I'm so happy to know you're enjoying it!

  8. All these recipes and versions sound great. We're going into the deep freeze yet again this weekend with yes, snow again -- can't think of a better way to winter through it than hot soup and a hot cozy. Am looking forward to reading your latest!

  9. Erika - love that! Hot soup and hot cozy! Hot off the presses, hot selling, hot story, hot love interests! You'll find all that here in our happy group! Pull up a hot toddy, everyone! It'll be a great weekend.

  10. Julie, Avery is right, the missing picture tells us how good it was!

    I'm trying a new idea with chicken thighs and pasta tonight, but now you've made me wish I had planned on split pea soup!

    ~ Krista

  11. Ooh, can't wait to see this one. I'm getting hungry right now. Chicken and pasta sounds perfect. What time are you serving?

  12. Hi Julie and congrats again on BWW!!! I got a Kindle for Christmas and as I promised your book was the first one I bought for it!! Mr. Nanc and I are heading up North is a few weekends for a project os I'm trying really hard to save it until then...with this "dangerously cold" weather we have I hope I can hold out because soup and a cozy sound downright...cozy!!! On another thing mentioned...I have a fabulous recipe for chicken tortilla soup...I'll send it via email!!

  13. Hi Nanc - can't wait to see your recipe! Hope you enjoy BWW on your trip. I'll be eager to hear what you think. Thanks!

  14. Yum!! When I make split pea soup, I use the fake ham flavoring (usually in the kosher section of the grocery) ... Or add a little fake sausage (the Field Roast Apple Sage would be *killer* in vegie split pea soup. :)