split pea fennel and spinach soup

This is the time of year when I love making and eating soup, and apparently so does everyone else because January is National Soup Month. This past weekend I had a big pot simmering on the stove while Etienne and I played with the girls in the living room and it made our whole apartment feel warm and cozy, despite the frigid weather.

This recipe for Vegan Split Pea, Spinach & Fennel Soup is an original recipe that I created for Vegetarian Times as part of the 1 Food 5 Ways: Fennel article that I wrote for the magazine. The soup makes great use of leftover fennel stalks since most recipes call for using the bulb and tossing the stalks. I added a bit of spinach to the soup to give it a vibrant green color and split peas make this soup filling and a good source of protein.

We have been eating vegan 2 days per week and this split pea, spinach and fennel soup is in the permanent rotation. Below are some of the reviews for this recipe from Vegetarian Times readers, with some great variations.

Vegan Split Pea, Spinach & Fennel Soup

Yield: 8 servings

This vibrant and filling soup makes good use of fennel stalks.


  • 2 cups chopped fennel (1 bulb or 
5 fennel stalks, fronds removed)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 cup dry white wine, divided
  • 15 oz. dried green split peas
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, divided
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 oz. baby spinach leaves
  • 1. Heat saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add fennel and onion, and sauté 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup wine, and simmer 2 minutes. Add split peas, 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf, and 7 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • 2. Add remaining 1/2 cup wine, and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes, or until split peas are tender. Stir in spinach, and cook 2 minutes, or until spinach is wilted.
  • 3. Remove bay leaf, and purée soup with immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Toast remaining 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds in small skillet 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Serve soup garnished with toasted fennel seeds.

How interesting … I just made this today and now the recipe pops up in my email. Since I like my soup thicker, I use less water than called for. Otherwise, I’ve made it exactly as written. I’ve also made it without the fennel if I didn’t have any on hand, substituting it with onion and a little celery, and without the white wine. It’s a pretty forgiving recipe if you need to make adjustments. And delicious!


This is a really great soup. The toasted fennel garnish is fantastic too. Followed the recipe exactly. Thanks very much.


I made this for dinner last night. My husband and I really liked it. My son wasn’t too fond even though he loves split peas. He didn’t like the fennel and spinach chunks. I didn’t puree it completely because I like a chunky/hearty soup but next time I make it I will puree it a bit more. I used all of the fennel. I don’t like to waste anything.


Do soak the split peas overnight; they do sprout even though they are split. The soaked peas still require 50 minutes of simmering too. The fennel does not require 50 minutes of simmering. Next time I will add the fennel 30 minutes into the cooking of this soup. I used all the fennel even the fronds, why waste anything. It was a delicious and very filling soup.


This kitchen-challenged girl made the Split Pea, Fennel, and Spinach Soup recipe last night and it was SOOOOOOOO delicious! And SOOOOOOOOO easy! Thanks VT!


I made this for Thanksgiving. It turned out pretty well. But it was the first time I used fennel… and when the leftovers were stuffed into every cold nook and cranny, I kind of lost track of my poor soup! Amy


I’m lactose intolerant & was excited to find a soup that was EASY without a lot of bizarre ingredients. I had never used ‘real’ fennel before, so I was nervous that it would be too ‘licorice-y’ but it was wonderful. We subbed the wine with 4 C. vegetable juice and 4 C. water; added about about 1 1/2 T. of salt & some ground pepper. Oh, baby! It was wonderful. I was thrilled at how easy it was to make. (Those who can tolerate dairy would enjoy a dollop of sour cream on top.) Thanks for a great recipe.


I made this soup with all the ingredients as listed, however I changed the instructions because I did not want a totally blended soup. I used my pressure cooker for the whole thing. First I PC’d the fennel, onions & garlic with half the wine and water to barely cover. When done I blended those cooked vegetables with the uncooked spinach and then put it all back into the PC with the split peas, the rest of the wine and water and seasonings. I PC’d it for 22 minutes and it was done perfectly with great texture. I didn’t find this soup bland at all and it just got better and better after a few days in the fridge.


I made this at the weekend and it’s delicious. Omitted the wine and added vegetable broth plus a small amount of spinach at the end. Makes a great workday lunch 🙂


This was an amazing recipe, I don’t think that I will every be able to eat regular split pea soup ever again. I was very impressed, the recipe was easy to make and very filling.

-Tosha Photo via Vegetarian Times.