Cumin & Split Pea Soup

This cumin and split pea soup is dal-adjacent and heavy on the cumin. If cumin isn’t your thing, you may want to pass this one by. I was trying to replicate the dal soup at my local Indian restaurant. I didn’t quite get there, but this soup is still pretty damn good.

Cumin & Split Pea Soup

In researching dal soups online, I found many that used red lentils, which I don’t love. I wanted the heft of split peas, so I used those instead. Essentially, I combined some elements of this dahl soup with elements of a dal recipe I clipped from May All Be Fed by John Robbins. The beauty of this soup, like most, is you can adjust it at the end by adding a little more cumin, salt, or powdered ginger. 
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Cumin, Soup, Split Peas
Servings: 4 cups


  • 4 cups vegetable stock  See Notes, below.
  • 1/2 pound split peas, green or yellow
  • 1/3 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3/4 tsp curry powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp minced ginger See Notes, below.
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or 1/4 tsp table salt See Notes, below.
  • pinch cayenne pepper, or more, to taste
  • 2 small cocktail tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, or more, to taste


  • Wash the split peas and check for stones. Drain. 
  • Put split peas and stock into a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the peas are very tender or even falling apart. The water will NOT be absorbed. Do not drain. You’ll need this liquid to keep the soup from getting too thick. 
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add mustard and cumin seeds and cook until mustard seeds are just starting to pop. 
  • Add onion. Saute for a few minutes until it is soft. You may need to lower the heat to prevent browning.
  • Add curry, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and salt. Cook for about 30 seconds. 
  • Add tomatoes and their juice. Cook for a few minutes until tomatoes soften and break down. Remove spice mixture from heat.
  • Check split peas to ensure they are cooked. If not, cook them a little longer with the lid on. 
  • Add spice mixture and coconut milk to split peas. Heat through. 
  • Remove pea mixture to a blender to puree, or blend with an immersion blender. Stir in lemon juice just before serving. Alternately (or additionally), serve with lemon wedges so people can adjust their own serving to taste. Just be sure to add the lemon at some point because the soup will taste bland without it. 
  • Taste and adjust salt, cumin, or ginger, as needed. Thin with a little more stock, if desired. (See Notes, below.)
  • Serve alongside a salad of bitter greens, crusty bread, or naan.


  • This soup can be a little thick, so you may want to add another ½ cup (120 mL) of stock at the beginning. Just be sure to add a pinch more of each spice to ensure you don’t water down the flavour. You can also thin the soup with a bit of vegetable stock after pureeing. Start with ¼ cup (60 mL) and see how that tastes before adding more. 
  • I love ginger and this soup really needs a good dose of it to balance the flavours. If you find the ginger has gotten lost in here, you can always sprinkle in a little powdered ginger, to taste, at the end. 
  • I used Diamond Crystal kosher salt in this recipe. I’ve been gradually switching to kosher salt for cooking since reading in Fat, Salt, Acid, Heat that kosher salt dissolves more quickly and tastes more “pure” because it has no additives. The brand is also important–Diamond Crystal is less salty than other brands. If you don’t have kosher salt, you can use table salt here, but start with ¼ tsp (1.25 mL) so you don’t oversalt the soup. You can adjust it at the end with a little more salt, if needed. 
  • I’m in the habit of using fresh lemons as opposed to bottled juice. I cut off about the top 3-4 cm of the lemon and squeeze that into the soup. If you are using bottled, start with ½ tsp (2.5 mL) to see how it tastes. Bottled lemon juice always seems stronger to me so I proceed with caution.

Image of soup bowl by Santy Salvianti –

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