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Shared by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

Split Pea Soup With Root Vegetables

Split Pea Soup With Root Vegetables

This recipe was shared by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. Read more about her family in "A Soup From Poland Travels Thousands of Miles — Only to Return Home." 


  • 3 large leeks with green tops, plus more green tops if you have them
  • 1 pound (or 2 1/2 cups) green split peas
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 knob of celery root (the size of your fist) and/or 6 stalks of celery with leaves, diced
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1 parsley root (optional)
  • 2/3 cup barley (preferably hulled)
  • 1/2 cup large white lima beans
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, with stems
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • kosher or sea salt to taste
Soups & StewsVegetarianVeganPareveEastern Europe


  • Step 1

    Bring 8 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, carefully wash 3 large leeks, preferably organic. Place the dark green tops (plus the dark green tops of other bunches, if you have them or can salvage them from a farmers' market--some people throw them away!) into the water and simmer until they are very soft, about 30 minutes.

  • Step 2

    At the same time, in a small pot, simmer 1 pound (or 2 1/2 cups) of washed green split peas (organic if possible) in 4 cups of water. The fresher the split peas the quicker and softer they will cook; soak overnight for even faster results. Cook till soft, about 40 minutes.

  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, cut the white part of the leeks in half, wash free of sand, and slice thinly. Scrub two large sweet carrots, a knob of celery root the size of your fist (with the dark green stalks) and/or six stalks of celery. The dark green variety from Chinatown is flavorful, especially if your celery root did not come with its top. Add a large parsnip, a parsley root (if you can find it). Dice the celery stalks and leaves. Leave everything else whole. Organic vegetables preferred.

  • Step 4

    By this time, the leek tops should be soft and grey green. Lift them out with tongs and drain in a colander, saving all the liquid. As they are cooling, put all the vegetables into the leek stock and simmer. Wash and add 2/3 cup washed and soaked barley (preferably large, darkish, and unpearled, from health food store) and 1/2 cup soaked large white limas.

  • Step 5

    Soon as the leek tops have cooled enough to handle, squeeze all the goodness out of them, put all the drained liquid into the pot, discard what remains of the leek tops.

  • Step 6

    Now, look in on the peas. If they have softened nicely, you can mash them with a spoon, whisk them, puree them in the pot using a hand blender, or give them a turn in the food processor: they should be smooth. Add them to the soup pot. Cover and simmer gently.

  • Step 7

    As the whole apartment fills with the aroma of roots releasing their concentrated goodness and the pulses swelling as they rehydrate, go off and do something else--or sit at the table and look off into space, daydreaming, reading, the radio humming. Check the pot in about 40 minutes. Add more water if necessary.

  • Step 8

    Soon as the vegetables are cooked through, remove them. Mash them coarsely with a fork or dice them. Return them to the pot. Add kosher or sea salt to taste.

  • Step 9

    Soon as the limas and barley are soft, the soup is ready to serve. Wash the fresh dark dill (a good handful) and chop coarsely, stems and all (as well as finely chopped dark green tops of the parsley root or flat-leaf parsley) and add at the last minute or, even better, serve the soup with finely chopped fresh herbs added to each bowl or served in a bowl so each person can help themselves.

  • Step 10

    Serve it forth. With coarse bread--either Essene sprouted grain loaf (from health food store or sprout the wheat and make your own) or Lithuanian sour rye cut from a crusty round loaf the size of a millstone (or make your own from whole rye). Sweet tub butter for those who still eat butter. Half-sour dill pickles--the butcher has them. Cold buttermilk.

  • Step 11

    When the soup has cooled, put some in the fridge and pack the rest into containers and freeze so you don't get bored eating 4 gallons of the same thing every day in a row. When reheating, thin out with water (or leek stock or vegetable water) as needed and refresh with fresh chopped dill. Dill freezes well in little packets and can be chopped into the soup that you defrost. Or, add fresh chopped dill to the top of the container of soup just before freezing.