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French-Canadian Yellow Split-Pea Soup: Vegetarian Redux

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Delicious homestyle yellow split-pea soup

Delicious homestyle yellow split-pea soup

The History of This Soup

My father was of French-Canadian descent. This yellow split-pea soup was one of his favorite recipes from his mother. In the original version, ham hocks are used for extra flavor and some tiny tidbits of meat.

As I've been a vegetarian since the mid-1980s, I've reinvented many of my family's recipes to be veg-friendly. This one is a favorite for chilly evenings.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

1 hour 30 min

1 hour 45 min

8 to 12 servings


  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds dried yellow split peas
  • 1 cup sliced carrots, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 to 5 quarts water


  1. Using a 6-quart pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until almost translucent.
  2. Rinse the split peas in a large strainer or colander, drain well, and add to the pot.
  3. Stir the sauteed garlic and onion through the peas. Then add the carrots, stirring them in.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, and curry powder. Mix well.
  5. Add the water, stir, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  6. Cover, and reduce to simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Keep an eye on it; stir every now and then. If it is getting too thick, add more water. The longer the ingredients cook together, the better the flavors blend.
  7. In the last 30 minutes, add in the liquid smoke, and continue to simmer for the remaining time.
  8. Test to be sure the peas are fully cooked and soft. If not, simmer a while longer.
  9. When the peas are fully tender, turn off the heat, and stir well.
  10. Using a food mill placed across a large bowl, empty the soup by 2 cupfuls at a time into the food mill, and press through into the bowl.
Run through a food mill to finish. (Yes, it can get messy, especially if you're a klutz like me.)

Run through a food mill to finish. (Yes, it can get messy, especially if you're a klutz like me.)

Serving Suggestions

Serve with a nice red wine and a hearty roll, as pictured at the top of the article, and you have a full meal.

Of course, I believe "wine rules" are made to be broken, so if you prefer a white, go for it. Or, if you don't care for wine, serve with some other beverage of your choice.

Slow Cooker Method

If desired, you can also cook this together in a slow-cooker for about 4 hours on low heat. Bring the ingredients to a boil first, on the stove, then transfer to slow cooker, for an even quicker finish.

No Food Mill? No Problem

If you don't have a food mill, you can always run the finished soup through a food processor, and then through a strainer, depending on how smooth you want it.

The food mill allows some texture to remain, but there will be no chunks; it's a soup that has no bits needing to be chewed. For this reason, it doesn't matter if your onions and garlic aren't chopped super fine, or if the carrots are in slices or chunks.

It's also a perfect soup for the elderly or anyone with chewing difficulties.

Extra Tips

What if you are short an ingredient?

Not to worry; this is a very forgiving dish. As it happened, I was short on onion, so I simply added some onion powder into the pot, and no one is the wiser. (Well, I guess they are now; I've told on myself!)

Ditto for other flavors. Carrots can be more, fewer, or omitted; it's all up to you. They don't add their own flavor, but just kick up the nutrition another notch.

The liquid smoke is very pungent smelling in the bottle; don't let that throw you off. It's far more subtle in the soup, and you may find you want to add a bit more.

This is a large-batch recipe. It can easily be cut in half to serve fewer people, or you can just freeze the extra; it freezes very well.

© 2018 Liz Elias