Light and Lovely Spring Split Pea Soup

peasoupWho doesn’t love Spring? With days growing longer, buds turning into blooms and winter produce giving way to spring’s greens, it’s the season of re-birth and renewal.

But in Southern California–with daily highs hitting 80 and nights dipping to 40–spring is also a season of contradictions. (How else could we explain short-shorts worn with Uggs?)  And for those chilly evenings, here’s a soup that’s hot and hearty but still seasonal and skinny: Light and Lovely Spring and Split Pea Soup.

Dried green split peas–high in fiber, protein, B vitamins and complex carbohydrates–are one of the world’s healthiest foods.  But like all dried legumes, once cooked, they have about 300 calories per cup.

And though turning dried peas into soup made with low fat broth can reduce calories, most recipes for split pea soup also tend to have an obnoxious amount of pork and fat. (Paula Deen’s recipe, for example, calls for bacon and sausage and butter and adds up to 1020 calories and 30 grams of fat per 2 cup serving.…almost two-thirds of the calories an average 5’5 woman should have in a day.)

But by simply dumping the pork, bumping up the other fresh veg–like onions, celery and carrots–and switching out some of the dried legumes for fresh or frozen peas (only 110 calories a cup), you not only drastically cut the calories and heart stopping fats of your standard split pea soup,  it turns out much prettier as well.

All in, this soup had barely more than 100 calories a cup and sacrifices nothing in taste or texture.

So next time you’re feeling a little torn between seasons, try this warm but seasonal spring soup.

It’s not only delicious…it’s also much easier to pull off than short-shorts and Uggs~!


(yields about 14 cups)

driedpeas1 1/2 cups dried green split peas (make sure they’re still green, if they’re brown they’re old.)

1 1/2 cups onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups celery, diced

1 1/2 cups carrots, diced or shredded (Tip: Because I always have a bag of shredded carrots in the fridge to quickly add to salads, I use them in this recipe to save a few minutes of peeling and chopping.)

2 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or black pepper (or a combination of both)

1/2 teasponn curry powder

6 cups chicken broth

2 cups water  (plus up to 2 more to compensate for evaporation during cooking.)

2 1/2 cups  fresh or frozen peas (one 12 ounce bag)

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Rinse dried split peas well in a sieve and sit it over a small bowl filled with water to continue to soften while you start the rest.

Spray the bottom of a non-stick soup pot well with olive oil spray and/or drizzle 1 t of olive oil and swirl to coat.

Add onions, celery, carrot and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes until garlic begins to give off aroma but does not brown.

Sprinkle in salt, pepper, curry powder and the rinsed split peas and stir to coat for a minute.  Pour in the broth and 2 c of water and bring to a full boil.

Reduce heat to medium and maintain a strong simmer until the split peas are tender, about 40 minutes, adding in another cup or two of water as it reduces so that you end up with the same amount of liquid you began with.

Add fresh or frozen peas and cook 2-3 minutes longer.

Remove the pot from the heat, toss in the fresh dill and, using your immersion blender, puree until it’s the texture you prefer. (If serving soup as an appetizer, I make it a little thinner and puree it until very smooth. If using it for a family meal, I leave it a bit thicker and more chunky.)


For a 250 calorie snack or mini-meal, measure 2 cups of soup into a bowl and top with 2 teaspoons of pumpkin seeds and a few small croutons.  If throwing a party, you can serve as a passable  appetizer in shot glasses or tiny martini glasses…no spoons necessary!


After 25 years as a local and network anchor, Lisa McRee was just another American mother struggling, and failing, to lose weight. Finally, she cracked the code, and lost 30 pounds, quickly and for good, by doing what she loves: reporting, cooking and eating! Visit The Skinny to see how she did it.