Authentic German Split Pea Soup | Erbsensuppe

You will love this delicious split pea soup. This German comfort food is hearty, healthy, and inexpensive to make!

If you’re looking for a hearty and satisfying soup that’s both delicious and nutritious, look no further than German split pea soup!

Growing up in Germany, I remember this soup mostly from county fairs, horse shows, or anywhere where there were big crowds. There would be huge vessels of steaming hot soup.

At some point, this pea soup was so popular in Germany that they even sold it ready-made and pressed into a sausage shape (called “Erbswurst” which basically translates into ‘pea sausage’) that you would only have to rehydrate.

Regardless of whether you are making this for your family or a big event, you will love this easy traditional German recipe.

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Why you’ll love this German pea soup recipe

This classic dish is a staple in German cuisine, with a rich and savory flavor that’s perfect for warming you up on a cold winter’s day.

Made with split peas, and vegetables, this soup is packed with protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. This soup is both healthy and very inexpensive to make!

bowl of german pea soup with spoon

What are the ingredients

Here is what you need to make this recipe:

  • Split peas: split peas are the star and main ingredient in this recipe
  • Onions: they always add a depth of flavor
  • Carrots: they add a pop of color and flavor
  • Potatoes: I prefer a more waxy variety such as Golden or Yukon Potatoes
  • Celery: while root celery is more common in Germany, you can also use celery stalks
  • Bacon: this adds a nice saltiness
  • Broth or bouillon: this adds a lot of flavor to this soup
  • Bay leaf: I always like adding a spice such as bay leaf to savory recipes
  • Salt and pepper: I love using this real salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sausages: you can use Frankfurters or Wiener sausages
ingredients for split pea soup: celery, carrots, potatoes, bacon, onion, split peas, bouillon, sausages, bay leaf, vinegar, salt, pepper

Useful tools and equipment

You probably have everything you need to make this dish. However, these are my favorite items:

  • Large enamel cast iron Dutch oven: I love my 6-quart Dutch oven because of its size and its heat retention. The cream color makes it pretty enough for putting on the dinner table.
  • Vegetable peeler: I have two of these Swiss vegetable peelers because I love how they fit into my hand and make peeling the carrots and potatoes a snap
  • Ladle: a large stainless steel ladle is so helpful for serving up this pea soup
potatoes on cutting board with vegetable peeler

Substitutions and variations

As with most of my recipes, this is pretty flexible. Here are my top suggestions:

  • Peas: while I prefer using dried split peas, you can also use frozen or canned peas. Just know that the split peas give you the distinctive creaminess of this dish.
  • Celery: it is definitely worth trying to find root celery but I often use celery stalks, too
  • Potatoes: I like using a waxy potato in this recipe. Starchy potatoes such as Russets will work, too, but they won’t hold their shape much.
  • Broth: Homemade bone broth is always great but since I am often out of this staple, I like using Better Than Bouillon soup base.
  • Bacon: if you don’t have bacon, you could use finely diced ham or omit it entirely. Also, many Germans simply cook the bacon without frying it beforehand. I personally don’t like that so much.
  • Sausages: Trader Joe’s has some nice grass-fed organic sausages but any Wiener or Frankfurter sausages are great in this soup.
  • Vinegar: you can lighten up the taste of this soup by adding a good splash of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Can you make a vegetarian or vegan split pea soup?

Yes!

Simply use a vegetable broth or bouillon and omit the bacon and sausages. It will still be very tasty and hearty!

How to serve

Oftentimes, Germans will have this pea soup as a simple lunch or supper. I always like to sprinkle it with some chopped fresh parsley.

However, you could make this a complete meal with a simple green salad and some crusty bread.

Alternatively, you could serve this soup as an appetizer.

bowl with German split pea soup and spoon

Make ahead of time?

This German pea soup is delicious both right after making it but it will taste great the day after as well. Here’s how to make it last:

  • Refrigerator: this soup will easily last up to 2 days in the refrigerator
  • Freezer: for longer storage, you can divide it into either single servings or larger portions, and keep it frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months

Tips for making this soup

  • if you’re using dried split peas, you can shorten the cooking time by soaking them in plenty of water for up to 12 hours before
  • a good splash of vinegar will brighten the taste
  • you can easily make this recipe for a crowd by doubling or tripling the recipe
  • depending on your preference, you can add less water to make more of a stew or more water for more of a soup
  • feel free to take some liberties with the amounts of ratios of the ingredients

Other German recipes you might like

Authentic German Rouladen

Easy German Schnitzel

German Meatballs in White Sauce

Authentic German Potato Salad

How to make this dish

  1. Dice the bacon.
  2. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add the finely chopped bacon and fry it until crisp and most of the fat is rendered.
  4. Peel the onion and cut it into small dice.
  5. Once the bacon is fried, add the onion. Sautee it until it is translucent and soft.
  6. Add a lot of broth or water (if using the bouillon), the dry or soaked peas, and the bay leaf. Bring to a soft boil and cook for 15 mins.
  7. In the meantime, peel and chop the remaining vegetables.
  8. After 15 minutes, add the chopped vegetables, bring back to a boil, and cook for another 30 minutes or until the peas are soft.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Turn off the heat and add the sausages. You don’t want to cook them but just heat them up.
  11. Serve it immediately or save it for later.

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Split peas

Vegetable peeler

Better Than Bouillon (either vegetable, beef, or chicken)

Real Salt

German split pea soup in bowl with spoon
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5 from 4 votes

Authentic German Split Pea Soup

You will love this delicious split pea soup. This German comfort food is hearty, healthy, and inexpensive to make!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Soup
Cuisine: German
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 184kcal
Cost: $14

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 whole onion
  • 2 ½ quarts broth or bouillon less if using soaked split peas
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 4 large carrots
  • 4-5 medium stalks of celery
  • 4-6 sausages (Wiener or Frankfurter)
  • salt & black pepper

Instructions

  • Dice the bacon. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add the finely chopped bacon and fry it until crisp and most of the fat is rendered.
  • Peel the onion and cut it into small dice.
  • Once the bacon is fried, add the onion. Sautee it until it is translucent and soft. Add a lot of broth or water (if using the bouillon), the dry or soaked peas, and the bay leaf. Bring to a soft boil and cook for 15 mins.
  • In the meantime, peel and chop the remaining vegetables. After 15 minutes, add the chopped vegetables, bring back to a boil, and cook for another 30 minutes or until the peas are soft.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Turn off the heat and add the sausages. You don't want to cook them but just heat them up.

Notes

  • if you’re using dried split peas, you can shorten the cooking time by soaking them in plenty of water for up to 12 hours before
  • a good splash of vinegar will brighten the taste
  • you can easily make this recipe for a crowd by doubling or tripling the recipe
  • depending on your preference, you can add less water to make more of a stew or more water for more of a soup
  • you can make this vegetarian or vegan by using vegetable stock or bouillon and omitting the bacon and sausages

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 184kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @ourgabledhome or tag #ourgabledhome!

Let me know all your comments and questions below!

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How to Make Traditional German Split Pea Soup

17 Comments

  1. This is almost the exact recipe in my jr high home ec cook book from the early 70s and it’s still my favourite. The only difference is my recipe calls for a ham bone and grating the vegetables.

    When we were in Malta in 1992 we just loved a little item called “pea cakes” sold hot in little storefronts all over the island. When we returned to Canada I realized that this pea soup recipe, cooked down until it was thick enough to hold together in a “turnover” made of puff pastry, almost duplicated our favourite Maltese cuisine! It is still one of my family’s favourite Christmas staples! I’m getting ready to make them again for our belated gathering next weekend. My husband’s family is German, so it’s rather cool to know we have a family fave that has family history attached to it in more than one way!!
    Thanks again for another great recipe, Anja, and Happy New Year!!
    Laurel 🙂

  2. Soaking my dried peas as I watch your video 😋 and I ALWAYS keep dried green peas on hand for pea soup! Thanks for sharing your delish and wholesome recipes 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Anya!!
    I watched this youtube video last night and just had to make the soup tonight. Oh my, it is perfect and so so delicious! Thank you so much for this recipe, as it’s mid winter now in Australia it will definitely be a winter staple for me. My father was Croation and this soup reminds me so much of meals that my Bubba used to make.
    I came across your youtube channel whilst looking for sourdough bread tips and I watched about 10 of your videos all in a row. I absolutely love your channel and there are so many recipes and tips that I will use.
    Eddie
    (I’m a female Eddie : )

    1. I am so glad to hear you like the pea soup – and that you’re enjoying my videos! Happy cooking ~ Anja

  4. This looks wonderful! I grew up on homemade split pea soup and seeing your beautiful pictures make my mouth water for it’s comfort.

  5. Wow, this looks so hearty, delicious, and healthy! Love how you share your story about growing up in Germany and memories of this soup! 🥰

  6. Yum!! I lived in Germany for some time, and I always appreciate finding authentic German recipes that remind me of those special times. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing

    1. Yay! Hope you get to make it soon to have your taste buds transported back to your time in Germany ~ Anja

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