It’s fall in Ontario, which means brightly colored leaves (most of which are on the ground now), shorter days, and blustery, chilly days (and nights!)
In other words, it’s soup season.
There’s a famous kosher-style dairy restaurant here in Toronto that’s been owned and operated by the same family for over 100 years, and they make the best split pea soup ever.
It tastes just like something my bubbie would make.
I’ve been craving warm, comforting bowls of goodness since the weather changed, and while that restaurant (which I grew up eating at), isn’t that far away from my home, I’m not 100% sure their soup is actually vegan (legend has it that either butter, cream – or both are routinely used in the soup).
So I set about making my own version.
I’ve chatted with others who have created copycat versions of it, and looked at an old family recipe that’s been passed down to me, and melded the two to create what I think is the ultimate Bubbie’s Split Pea Soup.
Most split pea soup recipes call for a smoked ham hock – which is simmered in the soup and then discarded, to add saltiness and smokey flavor, but this version yields a truly delicious tasting vegetarian (vegan, actually) split pea soup with the help of a few fresh, earthy herbs, like thyme, dill and bay leaf.
One of the most unique factors about this soup, aside from the copious amounts of dill, is the addition of parsnips. Parsnips are a root vegetable closely related to carrots and parsley that add earthy and sweet flavors to this dish.
Best of all, other than a few minutes of dicing and prepping upfront, this soup basically cooks itself, leaving you to go about your day, while making your kitchen smell delicious.
There’s one minor detail that I left out of this recipe, which is unique to the restaurant version I’m trying to emulate: noodles. Their version includes cooked, broken spaghetti or egg noodles in the soup, which works surprisingly well and adds lovely texture to the soup.
I’m always #teamcarbs and love adding noodles anywhere I can, but in the interest of keeping this recipe gluten-free, I omitted them. But if you’re so inclined (and I really, really think you should try it), boil up a cup of broken dry spaghetti noodles and add them to the soup after it’s cooked.
Bubbie’s Split Pea Soup
- 2 tbsp neutral oil (I prefer grapeseed)
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 leek, washed and chopped, root and tops discarded
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced*
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup dried green split peas, rinsed
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped and divided
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
- In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the oil on medium-high heat until shimmering. Once hot, add the onion, leeks and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes or until onions are just slightly translucent. Add the potatoes, garlic, and split peas, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the broth, water, bay leaves, thyme, ¼ cup of fresh dill, onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt (if using – see note below) and 1 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 60 minutes or until peas are mashed and tender. Stir occasionally to keep anything from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Remove the cooked soup from the heat and remove the bay leaves and thyme bundle, then use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup for 3-4 seconds, ensuring that some chunky pieces of potato and carrot are left behind. Taste and add the remaining dill and salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to a week, reheating by gently warming on the stove and adding a bit of water or broth to loosen if necessary.
- Potatoes help thicken this soup and add heartiness to it, but as an alternative, try swapping them for diced parsnips to boost the earthy flavor of pea soup.
- I cook with no (or low) sodium vegetable stock so that I can adjust the level of salt to my liking. If your broth has sodium added, then reduce or eliminate the kosher salt.