Feast Day of Martin Luther

Luther is one of the many protestant saints we will celebrate through food. He was the most prominent figure of the Reformation. As an Augustinian monk, Luther was a great scholar of scripture and the writings of St. Augustine. He came to believe in study that the church had lost its way and needed to come back to its foundation in salvation by grace through faith. He famously nailed 95 recommendations for reform to the door of the Church in Wittenberg. This began a cascade of change in the world that could not be stopped. He translated the Bible into the vernacular (German) and used the newly invented printing press to distribute it widely. Luther’s efforts brought theology to the people and in his words made a “priesthood of all believers.” While theses actions led to great division in the church, it also led to great reform. We believe that Luther can be celebrated by all traditions, even Catholics, because his reforms eventually became a gift to all parties. The earth shattering “Joint Declaration on Justification” signed in 1997 shows that Catholics and Protestants fully agree on matters of justification, and in some real way the Reformation is over.  Luther remains a witness to the entire church that our foundation is built on grace alone.

Luther is probably best known for beer consumed during his “table talks,” where theology was shared and developed. However, we think that pea soup may be the best way for cooks to celebrate him. Once when Luther was arguing with others about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, he proclaimed that Christ had to be present in the bread and wine because Christ was everywhere. He was even present in pea soup. It is true, Luther taught, that Christ was there (der) in pea soup, but in the bread and wine, he is there for us (da der) in an accessible way.

Our pea soup is made in a hardy German style. Because his feast often falls in lent, our recipe is vegetarian with the addition of liquid smoke that makes you forget that it lacks meat. You can substitute ham, if you want.  However you prepare, let us celebrate that Christ is present, even in this green soup, and that all of life is a gift that we cannot earn. Grace is enough.  

Luther Publishes the 95 Theses (Luther schlägt die 95 Thesen an) by Julius Hübner; 1878; oil on panel; Height: 72.5 cm (28.5 in); Width: 125 cm (49.2 in); Lutherhaus collection.

Smoky Vegetarian Split Pea Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
6 cups vegetable broth or stock
1 pound dried split peas
Hot water, as needed
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
Salt and pepper


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until hot.
  2. Add the 1 onion, 2 carrots, and 2 celery stalks and sauté for approximately 10 minutes or until softened.
  3. Add the 3 garlic cloves and 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, and cook with the vegetables for an additional 1 or 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the 6 cups of vegetable broth and 1 pound of dried split peas. Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, lower the heat and allow the soup to simmer until the peas are soft and falling apart, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add water (normally around 1 cup) to the soup during the simmer time if the soup becomes dry.
  6. After 1 hr and 15 minutes of simmering, remove the soup from the heat and stir in 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke. Season with salt and pepper to taste.