split pea soup with coriander (cilantro) & cashew nut pesto recipe

Okay, so now I feel silly. Here I was saying that it’s not very often I cook soup, then I went right ahead and made... split pea soup. Go figure. Maybe it was all that talking about it that had me two days later craving it? I went with it, knowing full well that only Ada and I would eat it. That’s okay, one pot will now last us months! We ate it for dinner, then lunch the next day (Kye even dipped his toast in mine!) and still have leftovers in the freezer that should now see us through winter.
I topped it with my favourite coriander (cilantro) and cashew nut pesto that I’ve been making since my first kitchen job. As I’ve always preferred Asian flavours over any other, the idea of coriander and cashews in place of the traditional basil and pinenuts, not only makes this a damn sight cheaper to make, but also a nice change from the usual.

The split pea soup itself, is rather straight forward. Vegetable base, stock (homemade or store-bought) and soaked split peas… leave it all to simmer away while you get on with your afternoon, and come dinner-time you will have a lovely comforting bowl of goodness to wrap your hands around. The pesto livens up the somewhat simple nature of the split pea soup, while the rustic torn croutons (gluten-free or otherwise) add a nice bit of texture. If you are into leftovers, you can freeze the soup, minus the toppings for up to 3 months. I like to do this in small 500ml containers, the perfect serving size for Ada and myself. And as I have never and will never own a microwave I simply defrost it overnight in the fridge, if I’m organised. Or in a pan over a very low heat, if I’m not.

The pesto recipe I’ve given makes more than enough for this soup and some. It keeps great in the fridge, covered with a thin film of oil to keep the air out (and prevent discolouration) for up to 10 days. I like to smear it on toast and top with slices of tomato, or stir through pasta or rice noodles as I’ve done above. I found the cutest hand-made fresh rice noodles at our local Asian supermarket, cooked them in boiling water for a few minutes until soft, drained and tossed with a little pesto. For extra heat on mine I like to add a little hot chilli sauce on top. One of my latest food crushes. For someone like myself that is addicted to chilli but my kids not so, I can add the heat I crave after serving the kids up theirs. Perfect!

split pea soup with coriander and cashew nut pesto
This soup keeps well in the fridge for a few days, or you can freeze for up to 3 months. Make sure your stock is un-salted (homemade or store bought) or the peas won't soften. If you don't eat gluten-free by all means use regular bread for the croutons.
Serves 4-6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 500ml un-salted vegetable stock (or use extra water)
  • 2 cups (250g) yellow split peas, soaked in plenty of cold water 1 hour
  • 1.5 litres (6cups) water 
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • coriander pesto (recipe follows) and gluten-free croutons to serve*

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add onion, cook for 1-2 minutes until tender. Add garlic and cook for a further 30-60 seconds. Add celery, carrot and leek and cook, stirring for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables have softened.

Add stock, drained split peas and water. Bring to the boil, skimming any foam from the surface. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours until the peas are very soft, stirring occasionally.

Season the soup well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, ladle into bowls. Drizzle with coriander pesto and serve with gluten-free croutons.

coriander (cilantro) pesto
I like to use the whole coriander plant; roots, stems and leaves. But feel free to just use the leaves if you prefer.
Makes approx 1 1/2 cups.

  • 250g (2 small bunches) coriander (cilantro)
  • 100g roasted un-salted cashews
  • 1/2-1 long green chilli, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil or ricebran oil

Place washed coriander into the bowl of a food processor along with cashews, chilli, garlic, ginger and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Pulse 4-5 times to roughly chop. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in enough oil to form a smooth paste. Adding more or less depending on how thick/thin you want it.

Transfer to a container, drizzle a little extra oil over the top to cover and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

*To make gluten-free croutons; roughly tear up a few slices of gluten-free bread and fry in a pan with a little olive oil and sea salt, stirring until evenly golden.

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  • Reply
    Lori @ Laurel of Leaves
    July 21, 2011 at 3:17 am

    I've never been a big soup-maker either, but I recently found a great Pumpkin Soup recipe and now I'm hooked. Split Pea Soup might have to be next 🙂
    Your pesto recipe looks amazing-love cilantro & cashews!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 3:21 am

    aside from the delicious soup and pesto recipes (we love soup), i have serious soup bowl envy !!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Pigs & Bishops
    July 21, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Finely diced smoked tofu makes a good ham hock substitute in pea soup if you're pining for the non-vego version. Pimenton might work too.

    I just made this soup and it was wonderful – really light for a lentil soup yet still warming, and also quite cheap to make (I'm on maternity leave, so I'm on the lookout for food that's cheap yet good).


  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 4:58 am

    Hey thanks for that, smoked tofu sub sounds good. I've actually never tasted the non-vego version with ham hock in the stock, as I've been vegetarian my whole life. Great tips for others that may be hanging out for it though, thanks heaps 🙂

    Paula~ one of my Perth op-shop finds! Cute aye?

    Lori, even if you don't make the soup, I'd so recommend trying the pesto 🙂

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Well, here in NZ is soup weather for sure, so go ahead and keep posting soups 🙂 since everybody in the Northern Hemisphere is posting salads!


  • Reply
    Couscous & Consciousness
    July 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I don't do soup much either, but when I do have it pea soup is probably my favourite. Must try with this pesto – I really like the idea of coriander and cashews. Definitely more economical than the more traditional version. I adore your soup bowls too 🙂
    Sue xo

  • Reply
    July 23, 2011 at 1:50 am

    I'm so in love with those little bowls. They're so gorgeous! Split peas always live in my pantry but hardly ever get used – I think too much split pea soup as a child. I'm quite keen to try yours, though, especially with that pesto. I'm more likely to have coriander and cashews in the kitchen than basil & pine nuts, so I'll have to try it soon 🙂

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef
    July 24, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Love the pesto recipe, and the soup sure looks good too. I make bulk lots of soup and freeze it ziplock bags, then my husband swears when they take up all the space in the freezer! Just because he doesn't like soup much!

  • Reply
    July 24, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Sounds good! I definitely like the sound of the pesto on toast with tomato on top 🙂 And I agree with Mika, the bowls are adorable! Must be a good soup if it got you to blog about it so soon after you were saying you weren't much of a soup person 🙂

  • Reply
    Rajesh Kumar
    May 14, 2015 at 11:15 am

    .You have made this perfectly..Will surely give it a try..Thanks a lot for this recipe. it tastes yummy too!
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