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Why won't these split peas soften?

I have made (dried) yellow split pea soup many times from a very simple recipe that doesn't require any soaking, and only about an hour's cooking. (It says.) But whatever I do, I get crunchy soup.

I even soak them overnight and have cooked the soup for as long as three hours -- and the split peas still have a slight crunch!

Any suggestions as to how I can get regular old soft, mushy, pea soup? Much obliged : )

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  1. Sounds like very old peas--could that be it?

    5 Replies
    1. re: nomadchowwoman

      Split peas should not need soaking. I bet like nomadchowwoman that they are very old. Pitch 'em.

      1. re: magiesmom

        I don't think they're very old, but I'll see what happens if I don't soak them. Do dried peas get old? I keep them in sealed Ball jars.

        1. re: efdee

          Yes, they get old. And, usually, we have no way of knowing how old they are when we buy them. Yours may have already been too old when you first got them.

          Not soaking them is not going to solve the problem. What magiesmom was saying (I'm pretty sure) is that they must be really old if soaking AND cooking for so long didn't do the job. They should get soft by cooking alone.

          1. re: nomadchowwoman



      2. When I buy the 1 lb bags of splitters at our regular store they break down quickly, an hour or so. When I get the bulk from Whole Foods it can take 3 or more hours of simmering to get soft.


        3 Replies
        1. re: JuniorBalloon

          That's interesting. I always buy split peas in bulk, and get the same slow result as Junior Balloon. I have no idea why that should be, but will certainly try the bag-packaged peas, in the interest of science : )

          1. re: efdee

            You might find Molly Wizenberg's most recent post interesting:


            1. re: efdee

              I get consistent results with bags bought from the store vs. bulk.

          2. My last batch of regular split peas did that and looking at them afterward (as I had bought 2 2lb# packages just the day before), they looked old and sort of faded. I pitched the other bag as I could never get the first bag to cook.

            1. Make sure you don't put anything acidic into the beans, as well -- acid keeps them from softening.

              (there's an old wives' tale that says not to salt peas or beans while cooking for the same reason -- this one has been debunked.)

              1. Sometimes peas won't soften because of growing conditions - an early frost for example. I am fed up with soaking and pureeing so now I just buy pea flour. It is even possible to get whole yellow pea flour that is organic - better for me and the world...

                1 Reply
                1. don't add salt before they're cooked

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: piccola

                      *acid*, however, will keep them from softening.

                  1. efdee, i've been looking for a forum to ask the same question. no one has an answer for us?
                    uh-oh, didn't see replies below. sorry. i didn't salt and they are fairly recent, within 6 months,(i buy in bulk). perhaps it is the growing conditions then. :(

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: yukonjack

                      But you have no idea how old the beans/peas are when you buy them.

                      1. re: yukonjack

                        salt won't matter.

                        Acid will keep them from ever softening correctly.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          i soaked them in water with a few Tlbs. of buttermilk overnight. will try again without the buttermilk. thank you!

                          1. re: yukonjack

                            I've changed my method slightly and haven't had any issues. Biggest thing is patience. They will be soft when they're soft. Only real change has been to turn down the heat after establishing a boil. Let them simmer rather boiling the hell out of them. It take about 4 to 5 hours for 1 1/4 pounds to completely breakdown. Worth the wait.

                            I was heating some up at work and someone asked if I'd put any cream in the soup? Nope, just time.