Indian Inspired Split Pea Soup with Spiced Yogurt

I taught a class on February 4th and asked the students at the end, “About which recipe would you like me to blog?”

They overwhelmingly replied, “The Soup!”

This delicious soup lasts five days in the refrigerator, and is packed with healing spices that can have a salutatory effect on the body when used regularly.

  • Cayenne pepper has been given credit for lowering cholesterol, fighting infection and acting as a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Turmeric has been given credit for preventing cancer, acid reflux, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s.
  • Cumin has also been given credit for preventing Alzheimer’s.
  • Ginger has been given credit for aiding digestion and circulation, lowering cholesterol, and acting as an anti-inflammatory. It also speeds the recovery of a cold and sore throat and settles an upset stomach.
  • Beans are a great source of iron, fiber, and protein and also help lower cholesterol.

Karen Lee Secret: Roasting cumin enhances the flavor. I like to roast ¼ cup cumin seeds in a small iron skillet over low heat for a few minutes or until the seeds are a little darker and smell good. Let cool then pulverize in a Krups electric coffee mill or use a mortar and pestle. Store in refrigerator in a covered brown glass jar. Roasted cumin will keep its aroma for three months.

Split Pea Soup with Spiced Yogurt © Karen Lee 2014

Split Pea Soup with Spiced Yogurt © Karen Lee 2014


  • 1 2/3 cups organic yellow split peas
  • 6-7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (green stem removed if any), sliced
  • 2 cups diced sweet white onion (such as Vidalia) or half onion and half leek
  • ½ cup carrot, scrubbed but not peeled
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/3 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes
  • Garnish
  • Spiced yogurt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Chopped cilantro


  1. Wash split peas, drain and simmer in 5 cups of the stock for 1 hour, cover askew, or until almost soft. Stir every fifteen minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
  2. Pour the olive oil in a heated skillet over low heat. Sauté garlic and onions for 4 to 5 minutes until they just begin to color. Add carrots and celery, ginger, and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, salt, and cayenne; sauté over low heat for another 3-4 minutes until spices get a little darker and their aroma is released. Take care not to burn the spices. Add the tomatoes and simmer a few minutes. Then add the cooked peas and the remaining stock. With cover askew, simmer until the split peas are soft, approximately 20 minutes.
  3. To serve the soup, place one cup of pea soup in a bowl. Add 1½ teaspoons of lemon juice. Sprinkle with cilantro and a dollop of spiced yogurt.

The Spiced Yogurt recipe is adapted from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison and can be made two days in advance and stored in refrigerator. Yields four to six portions.

Spiced Yogurt

Spiced Yogurt


  • 1 cup plain whole yogurt, hung, or use Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. If using plain yogurt, cut a piece of cheesecloth about an 8-inch square. Rinse in cold-water; squeeze dry. Line strainer with cheesecloth and drain yogurt in strainer for a few hours.
  2. Place the yogurt in a bowl. Using five chopsticks (Chinese wooden whisk), stir in the spices.

5 comments… add one
  • Lauren Lee February 20, 2014, 3:10 am

    this sounds great, similar to my red lentil soup.

    • karen lee February 20, 2014, 3:14 am

      Hi Lauren, Let me know how the soup turns out if you make it. Karen Lee

  • Sigun Coyle February 21, 2014, 7:55 am

    The soup sounds delicious — will make it next week. Putting the spices in the yogurt is a great idea — I never thought of that.

    Ever since you told me about the health benefits of turmeric and cumin, I add those spices whenever I can: I put them in my wheat berries last week after sauteing the onions and the white of leeks. I put them in my rice, my quinoa and my lentils. All this thanks to you! Amities from Paris, Sigun.

    • karen lee February 22, 2014, 11:55 am

      Hi Sigun,

      Me too. I use turmeric anytime there is an opportunity to seek it in a dish. I love the Indian rice dish you showed me with spinach when you returned from India. Karen

  • Madeline Schuster February 22, 2014, 6:12 pm

    I now because of your shared knowledge
    make and use tumeric oil on lunches I
    make at home for myself which most often
    are leftovers of chicken or even sometimes
    some hard boiled eggs. I have been in class
    when we have made this soup and it is delicious!


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