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A healthy and easy dinner recipe that warms and satisfies your body! This classic Split Pea Soup with ham can be prepared in the slow cooker, in the Instant Pot, or on the stovetop. Make it with a smoked ham hock, leftover ham bone, diced ham or bacon for a simple and flavorful prep-ahead meal that reheats beautifully throughout the week. Serve each warm bowl with a loaf of crusty bread or some flaky buttermilk biscuits!

Overhead shot of hands eating a bowl of split pea soup with ham.

Split Pea and Ham Soup

We take our pork very seriously here in Virginia, so Split Pea Soup with ham is the only way to prepare this old-fashioned favorite! Don’t even bother trying to make a vegetarian version, because the smoky ham adds so much rich, salty flavor to the dish. Whether you use a Dutch oven on the stovetop, the slow cooker for an easy hands-off option, or the Instant Pot for quick last-minute meals, this simple, hearty soup comes out perfectly every time.

The other great thing about this recipe is that you can use just about any version of ham that you have available. Simmering the soup with a ham bone is a great way to use up the leftovers from a holiday meal! I typically use smoked ham hocks for that classic smoky flavor, which I can easily find in my grocery store year-round. If you prefer, diced ham or even bacon will also do the trick!

Side shot of the best split pea soup recipe served in small white bowls.

What is Split Pea Soup?

No one knows exactly where Split Pea Soup originated, since this soup made from dried peas has been enjoyed in cultures around the world since antiquity. The Greeks and Romans were cultivating peas from about 500 to 400 BC, and vendors in the streets of Athens were selling hot pea soup (source).

In the United States, Split Pea Soup with ham is typically a bit thinner than a regular pureed pea soup, and it includes visible bits and pieces of peas and ham. It has a mild, slightly-sweet, smokey taste that you will love!

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pot of split pea soup with ham. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Olive oil: to sauté the vegetables.
  • Onion, carrots, celery, and garlic: savory vegetables that create the flavorful soup base.
  • Ham: I prefer smoked ham hocks, but a leftover ham bone, diced smoked ham, or bacon will also work.
  • Split peas: use either dried green split peas or dried yellow split peas.
  • Reduced-sodium chicken broth: the liquid base of the soup. I recommend starting with a low-sodium variety because ham can be very salty on its own, and you might not want much extra salt in the dish.
  • Bay leaf, thyme, oregano, basil and black pepper: seasonings that give the soup a subtle, earthy, hearty flavor.
Cooking vegetables in a Dutch oven.

Should split peas be soaked?

No, you don’t need to soak the dried split peas before using them in this recipe. Just rinse them in a colander and drain off any excess water. So convenient!

How to Season Split Pea Soup

This dish gets a good amount of its flavor from the smoked ham. The recipe also calls for a small amount of thyme, oregano, basil, pepper, and bay leaf. These flavors are subtle, so feel free to adjust the amount of seasoning in your soup, omit some of the seasonings if you don’t care for them, or add different herbs of your choice.

How to Make Split Pea Soup

This easy split pea soup recipe comes together quickly, whether you use the stovetop, Instant Pot, or crockpot. You don’t even have to soak the dried split peas. Pick whichever method works best for your kitchen — either way, this is truly the best pea and ham soup recipe!

  1. Sauté the onion, carrots, celery and garlic in the pot (add the diced ham or bacon at this point, too — if you’re using them).
  2. Add the split peas, broth, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, basil and pepper (and ham bone or ham hock, if using).
  3. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer until the peas and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour.
  4. Remove the ham hocks or ham bone, if using, chop the meat, and return the meat to the pot. Discard the bone and fatty pieces, as well as the bay leaf.
  5. Ladle into bowls and serve!
Adding split peas to a Dutch oven.

How to Thicken Split Pea Soup with Ham

You will be surprised by how thick the soup gets as it cools! If you prefer an even thicker soup, simmer the pot with the lid off towards the end of the cooking time to allow some extra liquid to evaporate. You can also start with just 5 cups of broth, and add more if necessary. For a thinner soup, use 7 cups of broth.

How to Garnish the Soup

While this soup doesn’t need a garnish, here are a few options to jazz up your individual bowls:

  • Cooked, crumbled bacon
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Sour cream
  • Croutons
Dipping bread in a bowl of Instant Pot split pea soup.

What to Serve with Split Pea Soup with Ham

Serve the soup with a crusty loaf of French baguette or other hearty bread. Add some robust, sharp cheese, if desired! For a Southern alternative, you can never go wrong with a side of cornbread, corn muffins, or flaky buttermilk biscuits. My Great Aunt Bee’s 3-Ingredient Sour Cream Muffins or her 3-ingredient biscuits are also delicious options!

If you’re trying to pair wine with split pea soup, I recommend either a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc.

Is split pea and ham soup healthy?

Yes! This soup is full of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from the vegetables, it’s high in fiber, gluten-free (but always check your specific packaging to be sure), and full of protein. Thanks to their high carbohydrate content, split peas are not typically considered a Keto-friendly, low-carb food.

Storage

  • Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Can I freeze split pea soup with ham? Yes! This is the perfect freezer-friendly meal! Just allow the soup to cool to room temperature, package in airtight containers, and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • How to Reheat: transfer the soup to a large pot. Cover and warm over low or medium heat until the soup reaches the desired temperature. Add extra broth to thin, if necessary.
Close up overhead shot of split pea and ham soup in white bowls.

Recipe Variations

  • The peas naturally break down, creating a thick, rich soup. If you like your split pea soup even smoother, you can use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree a portion of the soup.
  • Split pea soup with potatoes: add about 1 cup of unpeeled, diced red boiling potatoes to the pot at the same time that you add the split peas.
  • Vegetarian split pea soup: omit the ham, bacon, ham hocks, or ham bone, and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. If you want that smoky flavor, try adding a good dash of liquid smoke or smoked paprika to the pot.

Tips for the Best Split Pea Soup Recipe

  • This soup thickens as it cools (which is normal), so you may need to thin the leftovers with extra broth or water.
  • The recipe calls for 1 lb. of dried split peas, which is equal to about 2 ¼ cups of dry split peas.
  • Taste and season with salt at the end. The amount of salt necessary will vary greatly depending on the saltiness of your broth, your individual taste preferences, and whether you’re using ham hocks, bacon, diced ham, or just vegetables. Ham can be very salty, so you may not need any additional salt at all. Taste the soup as you go and adjust accordingly.
Hands holding a bowl of crockpot split pea soup.

More Soup Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of a bowl of split pea soup with ham

Split Pea Soup with Ham

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 cups
Calories 144.7 kcal
Make this easy, healthy, Split Pea Soup with ham on the stovetop, in the Crock Pot, or in the Instant Pot!

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ lbs. smoked ham hocks (or use 2 cups diced, smoked ham; 8 slices bacon, chopped; or a leftover ham bone)
  • 1 (16 ounce) package dried green or yellow split peas, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (use 7 cups for a thinner soup)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Optional garnish: cooked, crumbled bacon; chopped fresh parsley; sour cream; croutons

Instructions

STOVETOP METHOD:

  • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic (and diced ham or bacon, if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, just until the onion is translucent, about 6-7 minutes.
  • Stir in ham hocks (or ham bone, if using), split peas, broth, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, basil and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for about 1 hour (or until peas and vegetables are tender).
  • Remove the bay leaf (and ham bone or ham hocks, if using). Chop up the meat from the ham hocks or bone, return the meat to the pot, and discard the bones and fatty pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • The soup will thicken as it cools, so thin with extra broth or water, if necessary.

INSTANT POT METHOD:

  • Turn on the “Sauté” function on the pressure cooker. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the pot, and when the oil shimmers add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic (as well as the diced ham or bacon, if using). Sauté just until the onion is translucent (about 6-7 minutes). Turn off the pot.
  • Add the ham hocks (or ham bone, if using), split peas, broth, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, basil and pepper.
  • Secure the lid on the pot. Close the pressure-release valve. Select “Manual” and set the pot at “High” pressure for 15 minutes. It may take the pot up to 15 minutes to come to pressure and start cooking.
  • At the end of the cooking time, allow the pot to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.
  • Stir well to combine. Remove the bay leaf (and ham bone or ham hocks, if using). Chop up the meat from the ham hocks or bone, return the meat to the pot, and discard the bones and fatty pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • The soup will thicken as it cools, so thin with extra broth or water, if necessary.

SLOW COOKER METHOD:

  • Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for about 8 hours or on HIGH for about 4 hours (or until peas reach desired tenderness).
  • Remove the bay leaf (and ham bone or ham hocks, if using). Chop up the meat from the ham hocks or bone, return the meat to the pot, and discard the bones and fatty pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • The soup will thicken as it cools, so thin with extra broth or water, if necessary.

Notes

  • This soup thickens as it cools (which is normal), so you may need to thin the leftovers with extra broth or water.
  • The recipe calls for 1 lb. of dried split peas, which is equal to about 2 ¼ cups of dry split peas.
  • Taste and season with salt at the end. The amount of salt necessary will vary greatly depending on the saltiness of your broth, your individual taste preferences, and whether you’re using ham hocks, bacon, diced ham, or just vegetables. Ham can be very salty, so you may not need any additional salt at all. Taste the soup as you go and adjust accordingly.
  • Nutrition information provided below is just an automatically-generated estimate. The amount of soup that you prepare will vary depending on whether or not you’re adding diced ham or bacon.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 144.7kcalCarbohydrates: 34.3gProtein: 13.6gFat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 395.7mgPotassium: 140.6mgFiber: 13.5gSugar: 3g
Keyword: crockpot split pea soup, instant pot split pea soup, slow cooker split pea soup, split pea and ham soup, split pea soup, split pea soup with ham
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This post was originally published in January, 2020. The photos were updated in December, 2021.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. I actually saved the ham bone this year in anticipation of finding a recipe to use it in. So this is perfect timing – thank you!!

    Happy New Year!

  2. Hi Blair!
    Thank you for your weekly email. I look forward to it every week. It does add a sense of normality at this time. And I love seeing the beautiful photographs of the countryside. Not to mention the entertaining pictures of your boys, and the great recipes.

    I decided to make your split pea soup today. It is absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing your talent with us! Have a fabulous week…

    1. Hi, Kris! Thanks so much for reading the blog each week. It’s so nice to hear from you, and I really appreciate your kind words. Glad that you enjoyed the soup — it’s one of my favorites, too! Have a good, healthy week. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Had this today for a late breakfast (we often have soup for breakfast in the cold weather!) and it was absolutely delicious! Made it exactly according to your directions in the IP using a ham bone from a ham my husband smoked a few days ago. Wonderful flavors and it smells so good cooking! Am glad you left the salt to add at the end as in our case it didn’t need any additional (enough salt in the ham and the broth even though I used low sodium broth). Very filling and satisfying! Husband said it was a “winner”! Thanks, Blair!

    1. That sounds perfect, Norma! Thank you so much for your kind note. It makes me want a warm bowl of split pea soup on this rainy day! I am due for a batch, so thanks for the reminder! 🙂