Split Pea Soup

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Split Pea Soup is richly flavored, thick, and creamy– and loaded with veggies, split peas, and tender shredded ham. This humble-looking soup is anything but humble tasting!

No ham? No problem! Try this Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe instead.

Overhead image of Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

There are few better ways to use your leftover holiday ham bone than in a split pea soup!

And even without one, you can enjoy a seriously tasty split pea soup. We don’t save this recipe to enjoy only after the holidays — we eat it pretty much year-round (okay, maybe not in the peak of summer!).

This soup is economical (especially with a leftover ham bone) and loaded with good nutritious ingredients. It’s hearty and filling and loaded with protein. In fact, did you know that split peas are a fantastic source of plant-based protein? Score!

Process shots-- images of the veggies being sautéed and the split peas being added in

What Are Split Peas?

Green split peas are simply dried peas that have been cut in half (hence the “split” part of the name). This means they’ll cook a lot faster and don’t need to soak overnight.

Split peas absorb the surrounding flavors of a dish, making them a great canvas for a recipe. They do have a slightly earthy flavor with a subtle sweetness (just like sweet green peas do). 

When they are cooked for a long period of time (like in this Split Pea Soup recipe), they become very tender resulting in a creamy texture that also nicely thickens the soup.

QUICK TIP

Any split peas will work, but in our testing, we preferred Bob’s Red Mill®! (Not sponsored)

Process shots of Split Pea Soup--Adding the ham bone and bay leaves, chicken broth, and simmering it all together

Let’s Chat Ham

There are a few options for the ham in Split Pea Soup. Try to get a ham bone with as much meat as possible — not only does this deliver more flavor in the soup, but it also means you’ll have more shredded meat in the final dish.

  • Leftover ham bone: If you’ve baked a holiday ham, save the bone (and leave a good amount of meat on it) for this soup. If you don’t have a leftover ham bone, you can always ask the butcher in the grocery store for leftover ham bones.
  • Ham hocks: If you don’t have a leftover ham bone, ham hocks are the next best option. Ham hocks are the ham bone so these too are already smoked (cooked through). These are usually sold in the meat section of the store, or can be found in the deli. If you can’t find them, use a grocery locator app or ask the butcher in the store.
  • Adding extra meat: If your leftover ham bone is fairly bare or the ham hock(s) are less than 1-3/4 pounds, you’ll probably want some extra ham in the soup. You may also need to add some extra chicken bouillon powder or salt to the broth to ensure there is enough flavor. If you decide the soup will need extra ham, add some shredded or diced ham to the soup about 10 minutes before serving, since the ham won’t need actual cooking.

QUICK TIP

Ham hocks are quite a bit saltier than a ham bone, so you’ll want to reduce the salt, use low sodium chicken broth, or even replace some of the broth with water if you are very sensitive to salt.

Process shots-- removing the ham; shredding the meat; blending some of the soup; adding that blended soup back to the pot.

Split Pea Soup Serving Suggestions

There is nothing quite like some crusty warm bread for dunking in this soup! In fact, my boys won’t even use spoons when they eat it — ha! Add some softened butter on some warmed bread and go to town. Otherwise, some croutons (homemade or store-bought) topping this soup would also be nice.

As far as other sides go, this Caesar Salad, Garden Salad, or Italian Salad would all be nice complementary additions to the dinner table.

Process shots of Split Pea Soup-- adding the the shredded ham being added back into the soup

Split Pea Soup Notes

  • The cooking time can vary a lot, depending on a few factors like the pot you’re cooking the soup in, the actual temperature of the stovetop, the specific split peas you’re using, and personal preference. A few cues to look for: the ham should shred off the bone very easily and the peas should be tender.
  • How tender should the peas be? The peas only need to be cooked until they’re tender, but if you prefer a creamier/smoother texture, continue cooking until the peas soften and begin to fall apart. Err on the cautious side; if the soup seems too thick, add in some water/broth and remove from heat. (You can always put the pot back on the heat if you decide you want the peas more tender or the soup thicker.)
  • We recommend a pot with a heavy bottom: That way, you won’t need to be as concerned with the split peas scorching on the bottom (which they have a tendency to do!)

Split Pea Soup FAQs

1Do split peas need to be soaked before cooking?

No, soaking isn’t recommended for this recipe.

2Is split pea soup healthy?

This soup is hearty and filling with loads of nutritious ingredients like veggies, split peas, and chicken broth. Split peas are high in plant-based protein and fiber.

3Is split pea soup good for weight loss?

Foods high in fiber tend to help you feel full for longer. Split peas have a lot of fiber so this soup is very filling– which is helpful when trying to cut back on how often you are eating or snacking throughout the day.

4Why are my split peas not softening?

If you find after the suggested cooking time that the split peas still aren’t tender, there is something wrong with the peas. Either they are too dried out or too old which means they won’t soften. Be sure to use somewhat fresh split peas for this soup!

Split peas don’t have an indefinite shelf life. Look for vibrant colored peas. If they are pale, they are likely old.

Additionally, split peas will take longer to simmer at a high altitude (2,000 feet above sea level).

5Can you overcook split peas?

You can’t really overcook Split Pea Soup (unless it’s burned). If it gets too thick, add a splash more of chicken broth (or water) and keep on cooking.

6How can I thicken my Split Pea Soup?

If the split peas aren’t old and the soup still isn’t as thick as you’d like near the end of cooking time, you can either cook for a bit longer (slightly increase the heat — it may be too low!) or blend a bit more of the soup. Blending a portion of the soup makes the soup quite thick!

Overhead image of Split Pea Soup in a bowl

STORAGE

Split Pea Soup Storage

  • How to reheat: This soup stores nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. To reheat, add the soup to a small pot and heat over low heat until warmed to desired preference. Or reheat in the microwave. (Make sure to cover it so it doesn’t splatter!) It does thicken as it stores, so you’ll need to add in some additional chicken broth to thin.
  • Freezing: Split Pea Soup will freeze well for up to 2 to 3 monthsHere are some best methods for thawing frozen soup.

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Split Pea Soup

5 from 1 vote
Split Pea Soup is richly flavored, thick, creamy, and loaded with veggies, split peas, and tender shredded ham. This humble-looking soup is anything but humble tasting!
Print Recipe

Split Pea Soup

5 from 1 vote
Split Pea Soup is richly flavored, thick, creamy, and loaded with veggies, split peas, and tender shredded ham. This humble-looking soup is anything but humble tasting!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, Healthy
Keyword split pea soup
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Calories 218kcal
Cost $6.23

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups (250g) finely diced onion (~2 medium onions)
  • 1 cup (130g) finely diced carrot (~2-3 large carrots)
  • 1 cup (130g) finely diced celery (~3-4 stalks)
  • Fine sea salt & pepper Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (~4 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups (335g) dried split peas, rinsed Note 2
  • 2 small bay leaves (or 1 large)
  • 1 meaty ham bone or ham hocks Note 3
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Optional: fresh thyme leaves, crusty buttered bread for serving, additional diced ham

Instructions

  • VEGGIES AND SPLIT PEAS: In a large (5.5 quart or larger) heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and salt/pepper to taste (I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Cook until vegetables are softened and onion is beginning to turn golden, 5-8 minutes. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, cumin, thyme, red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add in rinsed split peas and mix through.
  • COOK: Add ham bone, bay leaf, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, for 60-90 minutes (Note 4), stirring occasionally so the peas don't catch on the bottom of the pot. Cook until split peas are cooked down and soup is thickened to desired consistency. You'll want to stir a bit more frequently as the soup begins to thicken. Add a splash more broth if it gets too thick for your preference. If adding additional ham, add it during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  • SHRED HAM: When ready to serve, remove ham bone and shred off as much meat as you can. Discard the bone(s) and fat. Return ham to soup. (We like to get about 2 cups, so if your ham comes up short, you may want to add additional chopped ham pieces.) Remove and discard bay leaves. Remove 2 cups of the soup and blend (Note 5) until completely smooth. Return blended puree to the soup pot and mix through. Taste and season, adding additional salt/pepper as needed.
  • SERVE: Ladle soup into bowls and serve with buttered crusty bread, a sprinkle of cracked pepper, and fresh thyme, if using. Enjoy!
  • STORAGE: This soup stores nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. To reheat, add the soup to a small pot and heat over low heat until warmed to desired preference. Or reheat in the microwave. (Make sure to cover it so it doesn’t splatter!) It does thicken as it stores, so you'll need to add in some additional chicken broth to thin. Freezing: Soup will freeze well for up to 2-3 months. Here are some best methods for thawing frozen soup.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Salt: Add salt very slowly and to taste. Ham hocks are very salty (saltier than a ham bone), so you may not even need any salt in this soup. If you are sensitive to salt and using ham hocks, replace 2 cups of the chicken broth with water.
Note 2: Split peas: Be sure to use somewhat fresh split peas for this soup! Old split peas can be dried out and may not soften in the soup.
Note 3: Ham: There are a few options for the ham. Whatever method you use, try to get a ham bone with as much meat as possible -- not only does this deliver more flavor in the soup, but it also means you'll have more shredded ham in the final dish.
  • Leftover ham bone: If you've baked a holiday ham, save the bone (and leave a good amount of meat on it) for this soup. If you don't have a leftover ham bone, you can always ask the butcher at the grocery store for leftover ham bones.
  • Ham hocks: Ham hocks are a ham bone, so these too are already smoked (cooked through). These are usually sold in the meat section of the store, or can be found in the deli. If you can't find them, use a grocery locator app or ask the butcher in the store.
  • Adding extra ham: If your leftover ham bone is fairly bare or the ham hock(s) are less than 1-3/4 pounds, you'll probably want some extra ham -- we like to have about 2 up to 2-1/2 cups of ham in this soup. If you decide the soup will need extra ham, add some shredded or diced ham to the soup about 10 minutes before it will be done cooking.
  • More flavorful broth: With a bare ham bone or small ham hocks, you may need to add some extra chicken bouillon powder or salt to the broth to ensure there is enough flavor. 
Note 4: Cooking time: The cooking time can vary quite a bit, depending on a few factors, including the pot you're cooking the soup in, the actual temperature of the stovetop, the specific split peas you're using, and personal preference. A few cues to look for: The ham should shred off the bone very easily and the split peas should be tender. How tender should the peas be? The peas only need to be cooked until they're tender, but if you prefer a creamier/smoother texture, continue cooking until the peas soften and begin to fall apart. Err on the cautious side; if the soup seems too thick, add in some water/broth and remove from the heat. (You can always add the pot back onto the stove if you decide you want the peas more tender or the soup thicker).
Note 5: Blending: Be sure to remove the center knob from the blender lid and replace that with a clean kitchen towel to avoid splatters. The blender needs to be able to release the steam!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 218kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 161mg | Potassium: 829mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 6833IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 3mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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