African Spiced Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup
4.48 from 19 votes

African Spiced Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

It’s appropriate that I’m posting this recipe–a beautifully spiced yellow split pea and sweet potato soup–on the first day of classes for my new semester. It is the sort of recipe that I’ll make again and again and again throughout this upcoming school year. Creating a big pot of soup or stew on a Saturday or Sunday leaves me with leftovers for at least four days, and it also means the possibility of doubling a recipe and freezing half, so that I have additional servings to defrost at a moment’s notice.

My class days this semester are Tuesday and Wednesday, and I have a night class on Wednesday. In addition, Monday is one of my long days with nutrition clients (meaning that I see folks through the early evening), so my plan is to do as much cooking and batch prep on Saturday and Sunday as I can, so that I have lots of food at the ready for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday–both packed lunches and dinners. By Thursday, I’ll be able to refresh my fridge stock (any staples I’m out of, like cooked grains) and prepare a weeknight supper. I often see clients late on Friday, too, so if need be I can prepare something that’ll give me leftovers when I cook on Thursday.

I’m thinking about posting some variety of my weekly dinner and meal plan–not something comprehensive, because I like to leave some room for spontaneity with breakfast and lunch. But maybe a snapshot of recipes I’ve picked out for my suppers and what’s on my batch cooking list. If you think that would be useful/helpful/interesting, let me know! I know that there are many busy students reading, not to mention professionals and folks who are struggling to feed families healthily and with ease, so my hope is that this could be a fun addition to the blog.

Back to the soup. There’s not much to say about it except that it’s hearty, filling, and outright delicious. I added some North African spices to the mix, including harissa, cumin, and ginger. I’ve been enjoying it warmed up with a side of my easy, homemade gluten free flatbread, but it’s also great over cooked jasmine or brown rice. A sprinkle of chopped green onion or cilantro is a perfectly bright and flavorful garnish.

African Spiced Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

The soup will freeze well, for up to a month at least. I’ve been enjoying the leftovers too much this week to think about freezing any, but I may double the recipe next time I make it, so that it’ll keep on giving.

I love the bright color and complex aroma of this soup (which is thick enough to qualify as a stew, too), and I love the use of yellow split peas here, rather than the green ones that so often appear in split pea soup. (As a sidenote, I’m still working my way through the bag of yellow split peas that gave me these cakes and this dip–they’ve stretched a long way!)

4.48 from 19 votes

African Spiced Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive grapeseed, or safflower oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 poblano or hatch chili peppers chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated or minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Harissa powder more to taste--it's spicy, so feel free to add extra if you like heat!
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 lb sweet skinned and roughly chopped garnet yams or sweet potatoes about 3 1/2-4 cups
  • 1 1/4 cups yellow split peas picked over to remove any grit
  • 6 cups water or low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup soy almond or light coconut milk
  • Black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion tops or cilantro optional, for garnish


  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and peppers. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are clear and soft. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring constantly, for another two minutes, until the garlic is quite fragrant. Add a few tablespoons of water as needed, to prevent ingredients from sticking.
  • Add the ginger, cumin, harissa, turmeric, salt, sweet potatoes, split peas, and water or broth to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer for another ten minutes, so that the soup thickens up. Turn off the heat, stir in the non-dairy milk, and then season to taste with black pepper. Serve with a garnish of green onions or cilantro.


Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to four days, and will freeze for up to one month.

African Spiced Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

What a vibrant and beautiful bowl. Whether you’re headed back to school this autumn or not, I hope you’ll put this on your list of warming soups to savor.

With that, it’s time to shoot off some work emails, review my textbook reading, and get to class! Have a great day.


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Categories: Recipes, Soups, Stews
Method: One Pot, Stovetop
Ingredients: Sweet Potato
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    This would have to be the best soup I have ever tasted, just divine. Thank you, Gena

  2. 5 stars
    I always soak the split peas overnight, then rinse, and they still take longer to soften, sometimes more than an hour. Maybe it is a personal taste how firm or soft you like them but I like to purée my soups so this one came out just as I like it, just add a few pinches of patience I say!

  3. 3 stars
    I made this soup a few months ago. Everyone liked it. However the cooking time for the split peas is only 30 minutes and they didn’t turn soft even after reheating the next day. Is this wrong? I made green split pea the other day & the cook time was 1 hour 15minutes. I will make again and cook the split peas separately then add.

    • Hi Johngo, I know what you mean! This is an older recipe and I remember having no trouble with the split peas, but in recent split pea recipes I’ve cooked them for at least an hour. I may retest and let you know how it turns out. I’m really sorry that you didn’t have a great experience.

  4. This yellow split pea & sweet potato soup looks incredible! Cant wait for this virus thing to b over. Am praying for all Souls of th Earth. B here now. ✌

  5. 5 stars
    After a weeklong winter break trip and a long flight back my family and I came in the door tired and hungry. My wife got the kids settled in while I scrounged in the pantry. I found a bag of split yellow peas, an onion, and a sweet potato. Did a google search for those ingredients and this came up. Threw everything in the pot, started unpacking and about 10 minutes before it was done the kids came downstairs asking what smelled so good. Big hit with my 4 and 7 year olds. My wife even volunteered to help clean the pot. The oldest had two bowls and asked to have it for lunch the next day. Fantastic recipe and will definitely go in our rotation.

  6. 5 stars
    Very late to comment, but I’ve just made this soup and it was delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

  7. I love green split pea soup – but I LOVE this color. And have a bag all ready to go. Perfect. It’s just what I need for this weird weather which is hinting at spring and just making it feel like winter is going on forever…

  8. Hi Gena! I made this soup today and it’s SO tasty! By only problem is that it didn’t thicken up like yours for some reason, even after simmering for 20 minutes sans lid. I’ll just have to make it again ;-).

    • Oh no! Try adding a bit less water next time (start with 4 cups and add as needed), and also, after you cook, you can use an immersion blender to blend it up partially. After that, it should thicken considerably!

      • Thanks for the suggestion to partially puree. I have a 3x batch on the stove right now – it’s my turn for Lunch Club at work, tomorrow, so I’m feeding 14 people!

  9. I would LOVE to see a layout of your meal planning :-). I’m a full time health and nutrition student who also works part time, I’ve been copy catting your meal plans for he last few weeks and it’s been so helpful and delicious! Please don’t ever stop blogging, I’d be lost! Lol

  10. This looks amazing. I’m going to make it this week. I would LOVE for you to share your menus. Sometimes I am gone at work from 8 to 8 and to be able to prepare and plan ahead would be so great. I rely on take out for myself and my family way too often!

  11. 5 stars
    Wonderful soup! I made this for a community dinner together with your pumpkin cornbread and a kale salad, and everyone loved it. Btw, I could not find harissa powder anywhere, so I got some harissa in a tube–wow! it’s really spicy! Even in that large quantity of soup I used only about a teaspoon.

  12. Wow, this soup is good, Gena! I haven’t been able to find harissa in my local grocery or bulk food stores, but even without it the dish was fabulous. I found the turmeric came through very nicely, as did the bits of ginger. I want to have a batch of this on the go all fall!

    • I’m already excited to make it again, Alanna, so I’m glad you had the same reaction. And if it tastes great without harissa, then so much the better!

    • If you have trader Joe’s near you they sell a harissa paste, which is what i used

  13. I would love to hear your menu plans and particularly those things you cook ahead on the weekends. And if you get too busy to do that — I’m a new subscriber and will look forward to searching for other recipes as wonderful as this soup on your site. Thanks.

  14. Hi Gena,

    Being a foodie, I always love experimenting with meal, which one I never heard about. And, Yellow split pea and sweet potato soup seems tempting I would definitely to try it at least one time at my home.

  15. Please post more about meal planning, batch cooking, etc.! I’m a student who is about to get a lot busier starting next semester and I’m worried about how it’s going to go once I lose my relative flexibility this semester. I would really appreciate suggestions for eating well with smaller amounts of time. Also, I’m not sure how relevant this is for you anymore, but I would also love suggestions/examples for how to best pack lunch as that is something I’m going to start doing as well. Thanks Gena and good luck with school!

  16. Gena – I’d love to know more about your meal planning and batch cooking during grad school. I’ve just gone back myself while working full time and have been resorting to salad and hot food bars a lot! This soup is definitely on my list to try!

  17. This soup looks so delicious and vibrant! And the ability to freeze just makes it that much better. I’ve never heard of harissa powder before — going to have to keep an eye out for it!

  18. I’d LOVE for you to post those meal plans and menus. My husband and I have a long commute and I often feel like I fall into the same old rut with my cooking since I have limited time and mental space. I’d love to work in some new ideas!

  19. This looks delicious, Gena–and it’s such a beautiful color! I love making yellow split pea soup with sweet potatoes when the cold weather hits. I love the addition of the green chili peppers, too. Makes me look forward to cool weather! xo

    • Yes, now that it’s back to the 90s and humid again in NYC, I’ve been eating the leftovers cold! But like you, I’m eager for soup weather, Maria 🙂

  20. Looks delicious!! Would it have the same result to use harissa paste instead of powder? I have a whole extra tube in my pantry that is begging to be used!

    • Definitely similar flavor, so feel free to use the paste! But I find that the paste has even more heat than the powder, so I’d start by adding a small dollop and then increase until you find the right level of flavor for you.

  21. I absolutely, positively would love for you to share your weekly dinner plans /menus and how you’re using batch cooking and meal prep to support your busy schedule. I personally prefer batch cooking for a variety of reasons and would love to expand upon my staples (soups! So many soups! I’m totally going to try this one, by the way).

    (Ok, I’ve gotta stop commenting via my phone so I can actually leave longer/better comments!)


  22. Making big batches of soup is so satisfying. The hard part for me is carving out enough space in the freezer to keep extra portions.
    Good luck with your classes, Gena!