What is Split Pea Soup?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Split pea soup is made using dried split peas. It is a popular soup made in many countries around the world. Depending on the color of the peas used, it mainly has a greenish-gray or yellow color. Split pea soup is an ancient recipe which forms part of the cuisine of many cultures.

In the United States, pea soup is usually prepared from canned or powdered concentrates. Pea soup is usually a smooth puree, while split pea soup is thinner with visible peas, vegetables and pieces of ham. Unlike in many other countries, split pea soup has no cultural resonance in America. Bean soup is more popular and has been a featured food on the restaurant menu of the House of Representatives and the State for over a hundred years.

In the United Kingdom in the 19th century, eating split pea soup was a sign of poverty. Ingredients were inexpensive and a pot of split pea soup could contain the leftovers from other meals. The soup could be made to last for over a week by adding more split peas.

Soupe aux pois is a main dish in French Canadian cuisine. The ingredients include salted pork, whole yellow peas and herbs for flavoring. After the pork has been cooked, it is chopped and placed back in the soup, or sometimes removed, thinly sliced and served on its own.


Spilt pea soup is a very common dish in Germany, where it contains bacon, pickles and smoked pork or sausage. One of the very first instant products made in Germany was Erbswurst, a pea soup product consisting mainly of pea meal and beef fat. Johann Heinrich Gruneberg, who went on to sell the recipe to the Prussian state, invented it in 1867. The war ministry built a large manufacturing plant and fed its army on four to five thousand tons of Erbswurst during the war.

The Netherlands have their own version of split pea soup. Erwtensoep is traditionally eaten in winter. It has a very thick consistency and includes sausage and pork. Resembling a stew rather than a soup, a good Erwtensoep should have the ability to keep a spoon standing up straight in it. It is traditionally served with roggebrood, or rye bread. The meat from the soup is placed on the rye bread and eaten with mustard.

Split pea soup has been eaten through the ages. There are records of its use dating as far back as 400 to 500 BCE. Greek vendors sold hot split pea soup on the streets of Athens.

Today, it split pea soup an inexpensive, easy to make food source. It is loved by students and busy parents due to the cost, the time saving aspect and the variety of ingredients that can be used. You can find recipes for variations on split pea soup in most good cook books.


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Post 2

Just the sight of split pea soup kind of grosses me out! It looks like bad baby poo or something. Really icky. I like bean soup, but a bowl of green stuff just makes me kind of ill.

Post 1

Split pea soup can be really bland unless you use a lot of ham for seasoning. A vegetarian version would have to have a lot of garlic or something in it to taste like anything. Unless it's really highly seasoned, I'm not fond of split pea soup.

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