This Easy Split Pea Soup with Ham is like your favorite cozy blanket, in soup form! Smoky, hearty, and full of protein, this is a meal worth savoring.
Homemade Split Pea Soup with Ham
I love classic recipes! The tried-and-true favorites are often fun and easy to master, and they’re so rewarding to serve up to a hungry tribe. This split-pea soup is definitely one of those, thanks to its delicate but smoky flavor, and light but hearty texture.
The magic is in the split peas, a truly humble ingredient! Split peas are cheap and easy to find, and they have a wholesome, natural flavor that’s something between sweet English peas and dried beans: flavorful, but light and just a touch sweet.
I love the floury texture of well-cooked split peas, and how some of them fall apart while others keep their form. It gives the soup a lovely warming thickness, without having to add a slurry or roux to get there.
What Are Split Peas?
You might be more familiar with split peas as “dal” (or daal, depending on who you ask). Indian recipes call for dal all the time, and it is really tasty and fun to make the amazing variety of spicy, mouthwatering dal dishes out there. They often have a very similar texture to the soup we’re making: floury, like the texture of mashed potatoes, with the split peas all throughout.
Essentially, split peas or dal are a common legume, often prepared in saucy or soupy dishes. The flavor is mild and slightly sweet, perfect for a whole variety of spices! For this split pea soup, we’ll be skipping the heavy seasonings and going with simple flavors: carrots, onions, some ham and earthy herbs. Mmmm.
The ingredients for this recipe are simple. That’s part of what gives it its homespun flavor! Perfect for an easy weekend meal.
- Butter & Olive Oil: I use a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing.
- Celery: You’ll need three celery stalks, diced.
- Carrots: Along with the celery, dice up two small carrots.
- Onion: For the onion, you can go with any type, but I usually use yellow onion.
- Garlic: Mince or press three cloves of fresh garlic.
- Broth: Have ready 6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth. If you’d like to substitute, this recipe also works well with vegetable broth or homemade bone broth.
- Water: You’ll need two cups of water in addition to the broth.
- Split Peas: You can use green or yellow dried split peas; green is most common. Either way, 16 ounces are needed for this recipe.
- Bay Leaves: Two medium bay leaves give a classic homemade flavor.
- Dried Thyme & Oregano: Use one teaspoon of each.
- Salt & Pepper: To taste.
- Ham: I recommend ham hocks or a meaty ham bone.
- Chopped Fresh Parsley: For garnish.
Do split peas need to be soaked before cooking?
Split peas, like lentils, cook fairly quickly and don’t have to be soaked first like many large beans do. However, a lot of cooks swear that a good overnight soak helps to remove some of the chemicals that make legumes hard to digest.
So, if you have a sensitive stomach when it comes to beans and peas, feel free to give them a soak first! Rinse them well after soaking and proceed with the recipe.
How to Make Split Pea Soup with Ham From Scratch
Making soup is so satisfying! I find this one especially soothing because there’s very little prep. Plus, I love ham. I mean, just to be honest, any recipe involving ham or bacon is a plus!
- Cook Veggies: Heat your olive oil and butter together in a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the chopped celery, carrots and onions; cook for 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add Remaining Ingredients: Pour in the chicken broth together with the water. Stir in the split peas, thyme and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Drop in two bay leaves, and place the ham hocks or ham bone into the mixture. Pro tip: don’t use too much salt, because the ham is already salty!
- Cook: Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about one hour and 20 minutes. Stir the soup occasionally. Check on the soup for doneness around the one-hour mark and see if it needs more cooking, or if it’s done.
- Chop Ham: Once the peas are soft, use tongs or a slotted spoon to carefully transfer the ham hocks or ham bone from the soup to a platter. (Be super careful not to drop them back into the hot soup! Splatters from boiling soup can leave serious burns.) Let the meat rest until it’s cool enough to handle. Shred or chop the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding any bones or skin.
- Finish Soup: Add the ham back to the soup and cook for one minute more. Remove from the heat, taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly. (If your soup is too salty, try adding a little bit of water to dilute it.)
- Enjoy! Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with parsley.
Tips for Success
What can help you make sure this recipe turns out perfect? These handy tips and tricks, of course! Here’s to a delightful dinner!
- Change It Up: Did you know that you can make lots of variations of this dish? It can work with almost any add-ins, from curry sauce to potatoes, to fresh crab meat (that one should go in at the last minute to avoid overcooking!). Some people love adding fresh English peas to their split pea soup, too!
- Ham Options: If you’d rather not use ham hocks or a ham bone, you can still get the flavor by simply stirring cubed ham into the simmering soup. Plus, there’s no need to remove and chop. Not a fan? No problem! Split pea soup is also great with leftover corned beef, sliced sausage, bacon crumbles, or no meat at all.
- Rinse & Sort: Don’t forget that raw split peas, like other legumes, are natural ingredients that should always be rinsed and sorted before eating. “Sorting” means that you look through the peas to remove any damaged ones (or the occasional small pebble!). Pro tip: it’s easiest to rinse split peas in a large sieve. They are so small that many times they run right out of the holes in a colander!
I think a good bowl of soup is a meal in and of itself, but my kids say it isn’t complete without something on the side! What do you guys think? If you’re on the fence, maybe one of these tasty side ideas will tip you over!
- A Good Sandwich: A simple grilled cheese is perfect with split pea soup, but you could also go with a Reuben Sandwich with Homemade Russian Dressing!
- Cornbread: There’s nothing quite like homemade cornbread for a cozy and simple side that makes everyone happy! My recipe for Light Skillet Cornbread is sure to please.
- Pretzel Bites: Soft, fresh-baked Pretzel Bites make this meal a super-special treat!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store leftovers, place the soup in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 4 days.
- To reheat it, place the desired amount into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until piping hot, stirring frequently.
Can I Freeze It?
- Yes! Cool your soup in the fridge and transfer it to the freezer in airtight containers. Leave a little room for the liquid to expand as it freezes.
- Split pea soup will keep for up to 4 months.
- Thaw overnight before reheating.
Easy Split Pea Soup with Ham
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 bag (16 ounces) dried split peas
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1¼ pound ham hocks or a meaty ham bone
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Heat olive oil and melt butter in a large pot or dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
- Add chopped celery, carrots, and onions; cook for 4 minutes.
- Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add chicken broth and water.
- Stir in split peas, bay leaves, thyme, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Don’t use too much salt because the ham hocks are already salty.
- Add ham hocks to the pot and bring mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and let simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. The soup is ready when the peas are soft. Start checking it for doneness around the 55-minute mark.
- Remove ham from soup and let rest for several minutes, or until cooled enough to handle. Then, shred or chop up the meat into smaller pieces. Discard bones and skin.
- Add chopped ham back into the soup. Cook for a minute.
- Remove from heat.
- Taste soup for salt and pepper; adjust accordingly.
- Ladle soup into bowls.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.
More Soup Recipes to Try
Craving more comforting soups to cozy up with? These recipes will warm your tummy and treat your tastebuds!