Hearty German Split Pea Soup: A Soul-Warming, Nutritious Classic for Any Season
This German Split Pea Soup is a German classic and really easy to make, especially for larger gatherings! If you’re looking for a warm and thick soup you can really sink your teeth into, try this Split Pea Soup. It’s a typical Grandmother recipe and reminds me of childhood.
A Bowl Full of History
Known as “Erbsensuppe” in German, split pea soup is believed to have originated in ancient Greece and Rome. Over time, this nutritious dish made its way across Europe, with each region putting its spin on the recipe. The German version is characterized by its smoky flavor and hearty consistency, making it a popular choice during the colder months and at traditional events like Oktoberfest.
The Secret to a Flavorful German Split Pea Soup
Made from soaked split peas and lots of freshly chopped vegetables like carrot, leek, potato, and celery, this soup – known as Erbsensuppe in German – includes Wiener Sausages for an authentic meaty taste.
The key to an unforgettable German split pea soup lies in the balance of flavors. The combination of Wiener Sausages, smoky ham, aromatic vegetables, and tender split peas creates a harmonious, delectable taste that’s both comforting and satisfying.
Should I soak the Split Peas?
Not all split peas are the same, so keep this in mind when looking at the cooking time and adjust, if needed. You can use either beef, chicken or vegetable broth for this recipe. The soup is quite thick, so if you prefer it thinner, simply add extra water or broth. If you like your vegetables more tender, add the vegetables with the potatoes after the peas have simmered for a bit. If you can find celeriac (as opposed to green celery stalks) then you can also use them – celeriac is more traditionally German anyway!
Split peas will almost always come from the store dried, so they need to be either simmered in liquid or soaked overnight before they can be enjoyed.
Soaking is not required for this recipe but if you have already soaked the peas, the cooking time will be reduced by about 40 minutes. To soak your split peas place them in a bowl of water. They take about 4 hours to be soaked through.
What Meat to Add to Your Split Pea Soup
You can make this soup without any meat to have a vegetarian or even vegan option if you don’t use butter. But I prefer the amazingly rich and savory flavor of adding meat to my soup.
Traditionally the soup is made with authentic German “Schinkenspeck”, but unfortunately it’s not easily available here in the US. I like to add Wiener sausages to my soup, but it’s not everyone’s taste.
For that reason you can make your split pea soup with some good tasting alternatives. If you can’t find Schinkenspeck, you can use thick cut pancetta bacon for example. However, if you can’t find pancetta bacon either, you can cut a couple of slices of thick-cut bacon into small pieces or you can use a ham bone or precooked diced ham like you would in a traditional American split pea soup.
Authentic German Split Pea Soup - Erbsensuppe
- 16 oz Dried Split Peas picked over and rinsed
- 1 cup Carrot ¼-inch diced
- 1 cup Celery Stalk ¼-inch diced
- 1 medium Yellow Onion finely chopped
- 1 cup Leek chopped
- 2 tbsp. Butter
- 1 Meaty Ham Bone or German Speck diced, optional
- 2 cups Yukon Gold Potatoes ½-inch diced
- 6 cups Chicken Stock use alternative vegetable broth
- 1 Bay Leave
- 1 tsp. Marjoram
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 cup Wiener Sausages or diced ham, optional
- Fresh Italian Parsley optional
- Sort through the peas to ensure there is no debris. Rinse and drain well.16 oz Dried Split Peas
- Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. If you use German Speck, pan fry the Speck first (optional). Add the onions, carrots, celery and leeks. Season with salt & pepper. Cook until vegetables are softened and just beginning to brown, 5-8 minutes.1 cup Carrot, 1 cup Celery Stalk, 1 medium Yellow Onion, 2 tbsp. Butter, 1 cup Leek
- Stir in the peas. Add the ham bone (optional).1 Meaty Ham Bone or German Speck
- Add the chicken stock or vegetable broth, bay leave and marjoram to the pot and bring to a boil then reduce to a low temperature.6 cups Chicken Stock, 1 Bay Leave, 1 tsp. Marjoram
- Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, about 60 minutes. Add the diced potatoes and cook them for another 10-20 minutes until peas and potatoes are tender. Remove the ham bone.2 cups Yukon Gold Potatoes
- Warm up the diced ham or Wiener sausages in the soup once the peas and potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup and garnish with parsley.Salt & Pepper, 1 cup Wiener Sausages, Fresh Italian Parsley