Split Pea Soup
Updated Dec 05, 2023
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This split pea soup is what comfort food is all about. It’s the classic recipe you know and love with meaty chunks of ham – and it’s super easy to make at home!
Split pea soup is a must-make recipe after you’ve cooked a ham for Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. Green split peas are simmered with veggies and a meaty ham bone until they’re softened, for a perfectly chunky, veggie-heavy soup with deep pork flavoring. This has always been one of my mom’s favorite soups, and honestly, who can resist it? I guarantee you’ll definitely be going back for seconds!
Just remember to save (and freeze if you’d like) your meaty ham bone to flavor this soup. But if you don’t have a leftover ham bone, I’ve got several tips and alternatives so you can still enjoy this split pea soup recipe today!
Split Pea Soup Ingredients
First, let’s clarify the difference between split peas and green peas. Green peas are fresh and harvested when young and tender, then typically eaten as a vegetable. Split peas on the other hand are dried and mechanically split in half, and are commonly used in soups, stews, and curries (similar to lentils). So make sure to grab a bag of dried split peas rather than fresh peas.
- Split Peas: You can use dried green split peas or yellow split peas in this recipe. Just not that green ones tend to be a bit sweeter and yellow ones tend to be a bit more earthy.
- Fresh Vegetables: A simple mirepoix blend of onions, carrots, and celery are all you need. Just make sure to dice the all veggies about the same size.
- Ham: I’m using a leftover meaty ham bone to create deep flavor in this soup. But if you don’t have a ham bone, see my notes in the next section below.
- Herbs and Aromatics: A little dried thyme, a bay leaf, and salt and pepper are all you need!
- Soup Base: The liquid base consists of half chicken broth and half water.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
Ham Options for Split Pea Soup
Split pea soup is typically made with a ham bone (which is how I’m cooking it today). But here are a few other options:
- Ham Bone: If you don’t have a leftover bone from a holiday ham, you can purchase one directly from your butcher (or even Honey Baked Ham stores). Just don’t forget to tell them to leave enough meat around the bone for the soup.
- Ham Hock: Also known as a pork knuckle, a ham hock is an easy way to impart that pork flavor into the soup while it’s simmering. You just won’t have the chunks of ham to chop and add back in. But you can always combine the ham hock with diced ham steaks, if you’d like chunky pieces in the soup.
- Ham Steak: If you’re not using a ham bone, you can simply purchase packaged ham steaks to dice up, then add to the soup at the end. While this version isn’t quite as flavorful, it’s super easy.
- Bacon or Pancetta: Instead of ham steaks, you can also cook bacon bits (about 4 strips) or pancetta with the veggies in the first step. Then save a small portion of either to garnish on top before serving. This will help to give that pork flavoring!
- Vegetarian option: You can still make a delicious split pea soup by omitting the meat and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
How To Make Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone
Cook the vegetables. Sauté the onion, carrots, and celery over medium-high heat. Then add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
Add the split peas, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir everything together!
Add the bay leaf, ham bone, chicken broth, and water. Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 50 to 60 minutes. Don’t forget to stir occasionally, until the soup is slightly thickened.
Add the diced ham. Remove the ham bone to a cutting board and dice the remaining meat, then add it back to the soup. Stir and simmer uncovered for an additional 5 to 15 minutes, or until it’s thickened to your liking. Use tongs to remove the bay leaf, then serve it up!
Helpful tip: Note that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits. You can always add an extra cup of water or broth to thin it back down.
- To store for the week: Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Just don’t be alarmed by the texture since it will thicken up quite a bit! If you want to thin it down, add more water when reheating.
- Freeze for later: I love finding containers of this soup in my freezer —especially on a chilly day! It will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer in a freezer-safe container (like these Weck jars).
More Soup Recipes
I’ve got quite the list of soup recipes. But here are a few of my favorites I think you’ll instantly love.
- Greek Avgolemono Soup
- Vegetable Soup
- Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Black Bean Soup
- Best Lentil Soup (with Mediterranean flavor!)
Whenever you need a soup to cozy up with, this split pea soup will hit the spot. If you make it, let me know how it turned out in the comment box below!
Classic Split Pea Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 3 ribs of celery, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound dried split peas, rinsed
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 meaty ham bone (see tips and alternatives above)
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 to 4 cups water
- 1 cup diced ham (from ham bone or added separately)
- finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Then add the garlic and saute for another minute.
- Add the split peas, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir together.
- Add the bay leaf, ham bone, chicken broth, and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 50 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the soup has thickened and the peas have broken down.
- Using tongs, remove the ham bone to a cutting board and dice the remaining meat (about 1 cup of diced ham), then add it back to the soup. Stir and simmer uncovered for an additional 5 to 15 minutes, or until it's thickened to your liking. If it's too thick, you can add another cup of water. Note that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits, so it's best if it's not overly thick at this stage.
- Discard the bay leaf, ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with finely chopped fresh parsley and black pepper.
- You do not need to pre-soak the split peas for this recipe.
- If you use regular rather than low-sodium chicken broth, you might need to reduce the added salt, so that the soup isn’t overly salty.
- The serving size is based on using 4 cups of water.
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