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Mama's Split Pea Soup Recipe

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.


The weather is definitely feeling more and more autumnal. It's time to prepare a batch of soup. For this article, I dug back into my roots to prepare a wonderful, comforting soup that my mom used to make for us.

My mom was German-Russian, brought up in very frugal conditions. Soup wasn't just a first course or an appetizer of thin broth with a few vegetables floating around the rim. Soup was a stick-to-the-ribs hearty meal, and this one is no exception. In fact, I submitted the recipe to a Progresso Soup contest and received honorable mention. (I'm sure Mama would have been proud.)

Don't be frightened by the prospect of cooking dry beans. The process is really quite simple, economical, and healthy (have you seen the sodium levels in canned beans?). One can of beans costs at least $1.00 on sale. However, a pound of dried beans costs about the same and yields 4 to 5 cups of cooked beans.

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Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour 15 min

1 hour 20 min

2 hours 35 min

6 servings


  • 2/3 cup dry navy or white beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dry split peas
  • 2/3 cup dry lentils
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 1 small stalk celery, no tops
  • 3 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 1 medium potato, diced, about 1 cup
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. First, wash and sort* your beans.
  2. Next, place your washed beans in an 8-quart stockpot. Add enough water to have about 2 inches of water above the beans (about 6 cups of water). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 2 minutes and then remove from the heat.
  3. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. This soaking time will reduce the actual time the beans need to simmer and will help retain nutrients.
  4. Drain the beans after soaking and cover with 5 cups of fresh water.
  5. Return the stockpot to your stovetop; bring the beans to a simmer over low heat and cook for 90 minutes or until the beans are tender but still hold their shape.
  6. Now it's time to add the star of the show, the split peas, along with the next 5 ingredients.
  7. Stir gently, and allow to simmer for one hour. Stir in diced potato, tomatoes, and sage; cover and simmer 10 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

* What Do You Mean By "Sorting?"

Spread the beans out on a cookie sheet and pick through them looking for rocks, small clumps of dirt, or shriveled beans. Trust me, you don't want to have those things in your soup. Beans are not washed when they are harvested. Any moisture would cause them to mold, so please wash your beans to remove field dust.

© 2013 Linda Lum

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