Split pea soup with ham is thick and creamy with incredible flavor from a smoked ham bone ~ this easy soup is comforting and delish! Just add biscuits or crusty bread to make a compete meal.
easy split pea soup with ham can be made in a soup pot, the slow cooker, or the Instant Pot
When five minutes into it the kitchen already smells amazing, you know it’s going to be good. Split pea soup is an old idea. How old? Split pea soup was sold on the streets of Athens in 500 BC (so basically ancient Greek street food!) Wow. It’s been a nutritious and cheap form of protein and comfort ever since. It came to us here in the States via Britain where it was known as pease porridge. It’s a wonderful meal that deserves to be rediscovered.
split pea soup ingredients
- split peas ~ find these in bags in the bean section along with other dried beans and peas. Note: Legumes last a long time, but not forever, so don’t be tempted to use a bag of peas that’s been sitting in your pantry for years. Very old split peas may not soften up no matter how long you cook them.
- smoked ham shank or hock ~ no need for a leftover holiday ham for this soup (save that for making Mom’s Ham Salad,) you can find smoked ham bones at your grocery store. They are really the key to the whole soup, the flavor is incredible.
- chicken stock or broth
- yellow onion
- bay leaves
- salt and black pepper
- optional: extra diced ham ~ if you don’t have leftover ham ask the supermarket deli counter for a 2 inch thick slice of ham. I add more ham because most ham shanks don’t yield enough meat, and this makes the soup into a satisfying meal. If you’re using a hambone that has plenty of meat attached, you won’t need any extra.
split pea soup FAQs
Split peas are simply green peas that have been dried and peeled. The pea naturally splits into two halves. They’re legumes, like lentils and other beans.
Yes, leave out the smoked ham hock and the ham. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. You may want to add more veggies such as potatoes or celery and more seasonings. Much of the flavor in traditional split pea soup comes from the pork, so you have to make up for that or you’ll get a very bland soup. I’d add a good amount of aged Parmesan cheese if I were you. You might also try some smoked paprika or a touch of liquid smoke to replace that wonderful flavor of the smoked meat.
Yes, split pea soup is deliciously healthy! Split peas, like all legumes are protein rich and high in soluble fiber which can help lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. It can even help you maintain your healthy weight!
No, no soaking necessary, split peas are ready to cook. It’s a good idea to give them a quick rinse and sort through to pick out any debris.
Normally you do not need to add anything to thicken split pea soup, the peas are naturally starchy and when they cook they partially dissolve into the broth. I use an immersion blender to briefly blend the soup, which thickens it further. Pea soup is thick and creamy while also gluten and dairy free. If by chance you’ve added too much liquid and you actually do need to thicken your pea soup, try stirring in some instant potato flakes, or a knob of butter blended together with flour (1:1 ratio.) You can also use a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with water.
Yes, split peas are relatively high in carbs compared to other veggies, that’s what makes them so satisfying!
A ham bone is another word for a ham shank. A ham shank comes from just under the shoulder of the pig, and the hock is near the ankle. Both shanks and hocks have lots of collagen, but the shank will have more meat than the hock. Either one will work for this soup. You can also use the bone leftover from a whole ham, if you’ve got one.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say yes, I think you do need some sort of ham bone or hock for this soup, preferably smoked. The flavor can’t be beat. If you absolutely can’t find one, consider using bacon or sausage instead.
That’s a natural characteristic of pea soup, caused by the starch in the peas. If you want to thin it down for leftovers, just stir in more water or broth.
Yes, bean soups freeze particularly well. I like to freeze it in individual portions so I can grab one when I’m hungry!
how to make this split pea soup in a crock pot
- Add all the ingredients except the extra ham and carrots to the crock pot.
- Stir to combine well, then cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours or until the peas are completely tender. Add the carrots to the pot about 1 hour before it’s done.
- Remove the ham hock or bone and bay leaves, and shred any meat from the bone.
- If desired, briefly blend the soup with an immersion blender to thicken slightly, still leaving plenty of texture. You may not need to blend the soup at all, depending on its texture.
- Add any ham to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.
how to make this split pea soup in the Instant Pot
The intense heat of the Instant Pot breaks down the peas completely, so there is no need for an immersion blender.
- In 6-quart Instant Pot add the oil, butter, onions, ham bone, broth, peas, garlic, and carrots and stir well. Close and lock the lid and set the pressure release valve to SEALING. Note: pay attention to your machine’s max fill line and don’t exceed.
- Press PRESSURE COOK and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Press CANCEL. Wait 10 minutes to allow the pressure to come down naturally, then set the pressure release valve to VENT to release any remaining pressure.
- When the pressure is fully released, open the top and stir thoroughly.
- Discard the bay leaves, and remove the hambone to a plate, shred any meat, and discard the bone. Return the meat to the soup.
- Add the extra ham, if using, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
what we love to serve with pea soup
- Boston Market Style Cornbread Recipe
- Perfect Cornbread Recipe
- Masa Harina Biscuits
- Apple, Cheddar and Sage Biscuits
- Beer Bread Recipe (easy, no yeast!)
- Buckwheat Honey and Caraway Rolls
Split Pea Soup with Ham
- stock pot or Dutch oven
- immersion blender (optional)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 smoked ham shank
- 48 ounces chicken broth or stock Note: I have also made this soup successfully with 32 ounces of broth + 2 cups water
- 3 cups split peas (one pound)
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 carrots, diced
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1-2 cups diced ham. This makes a meatier, heartier soup for dinner.
- Heat the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven and saute the onions for a few minutes to soften them.
- Add the ham shank, broth, peas, bay leaves, and garlic to the pot and stir to combine. Bring the pot to the boil.
- Cover and turn down the heat to low. Let the soup cook at a simmer until the peas are soft and starting to fall apart, this will take about an hour, give or take. Add the carrots to the pot during the last 30 minutes of simmering. Note: I like to add the carrots at the end of cooking so they don't get too soft.
- Remove the ham shank to a plate and shred any meat from the bone.
- Remove the bay leaves and then take an immersion blender and blend very briefly just to puree some of the soup, leaving plenty of texture. Note: you could blend the soup super smooth, if you like, but I think it's best with texture. Add the extra ham after blending, if using.
- Season with black pepper and, only if needed, salt.
- When you use a smoked ham shank or hock the flavor is outstanding, and you don’t really need any other seasoning.
- Leftover soup will thicken in the refrigerator. You can thin it with a little water or broth if you like, when reheating.