Split Pea Soup with Ham

Split Pea Soup with Ham is one of my ultimate comfort foods! Even my pickiest eaters have loved this recipe from the time they were small, and we still call it “Swamp Soup” around our house.

split pea soup from our best bites

Keep reading after the recipe for more information!
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Description

This split pea soup with ham is one of my family’s all-time favorite comfort foods! Throw the ingredients into the crockpot first thing in the morning and it will be ready by dinnertime or scroll to the bottom for Instant Pot instructions.


Ingredients

1 pound dried split peas, rinsed and sorted
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth or 8 cups water + 8 tsp. chicken or vegetable bouillon or soup base
1 pound bone-in ham, diced into small pieces and trimmed of excessive fat
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
45 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of thyme

1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon malt vinegar


Instructions

Place all the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. You can also cook it on high until it starts to boil and then turn the setting on low until you’re ready to serve the soup. Soup is best when it’s had about an hour to sit after removing from heat. Top with Sourdough Garlic-Herb Croutons. Makes 8 1 1/2-cup servings.

Any refrigerated leftovers will probably be very thick. It can be thinned with a little chicken broth, water, or hot ham water. (Just kidding about the hot ham water, but bonus points if you know what I’m talking about.)

instant pot instructions

Add ingredients to the Instant Pot, seal, and cook on high for 15 minutes. Quick release the pressure, then stir to combine.


Notes

Nutritional Information
Per 1 1/2 c. serving

Calories: 165
Fat: 5.2
Fiber: 5.5
Carbs: 17.6
Protein: 19

The Background

I’ve mentioned a time or two that I was a little girl when my mom died, so I really don’t have as many food-related memories of her as I would like to. I can’t pinpoint a specific memory that I have of my mom and split pea soup like I can with my dad and his doctored-up Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup and toast on Sunday nights or Chicken Cacciatore in the Dutch oven or cinnamon rolls and egg casserole on Christmas morning. But somewhere in the back of my brain, I know that Split Pea Soup with Ham is somehow linked to my mom and that those are good memories.

I usually end up making this a few times a year after some ham-related festivity because I have to start getting really creative in thinking up ways to use up all the leftover ham. However, my kids have also decided that in spite of the visual evidence to the contrary (my son says it “looks like swamp”), they all love it and are more than happy to eat it up when I make it. In fact, my son has asked for it for his birthday on more than one occasion. And since it also happens to be super healthy–full of protein, fiber, and good carbs!

How to Make Split Pea Soup

You start with a pound of dry split peas (.77 for a bag–not too shabby, right?!), herbs and spices, chicken or vegetable broth, carrots, onions, garlic. You’ll also need a tiny bit of malt vinegar which ends up being the secret ingredient; my soup kept feeling like it just needed more depth and I found the malt vinegar in the back of my cupboard and it just made the flavors pop. Finally, you’ll need ham. Ideally, you can use a ham bone leftover from some hammy large dinner, but you don’t want to use said ham bone if it the ham was seasoned with stuff like brown sugar, cloves, etc.–that’ll add a weird flavor to your soup. I like to get a bone-in ham steak from the grocery store.

ingredients for split pea soup from our best bites
You can also buy ham pieces sold at the grocery store close to the regular hams. Don’t be scared, it’s just pieces of ham that have fallen off while a ham was being spiral-cut, so you still get that spiral ham, it’s just in smaller pieces and quantities and perfect for cutting up and using in soup. Aside from the spiced, sweet hams, the ones you want to stay away from are the super-lean cubes of ham (not enough flavor) or lunch meat (it will fall apart).

Then all you need to do is place the peas, carrots, ham, onion, and garlic in a slow cooker or Instant Pot

ingredients for split pea soup from our best bites

herbs and spices…ingredients for split pea soup from our best bites

and chicken broth…

ingredients for split pea soup from our best bites

and set it to go! You can cook it on high for 4 hours, low for 6-8, or high until it boils and then turn the setting to low until you’re ready to serve it. If you’re at a high altitude, you may need to plan on more cooking time. You can also cook it for fifteen (15!) minutes in the Instant Pot. You’ll want the peas completely and (this is kind of a dirty word in the food biz) mushy. They will fall apart and thicken the soup and yes, contribute to that swamp-like appearance. It’s just the name of the game; if they’re undercooked, they’ll be crunchy or taste like raw peas.

Remove the bay leaf and season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired. This soup is better when it’s had about an hour to sit after cooking. It may separate–just stir it up to make sure you’re getting a little of everything.

See? Swamp.

split pea soup from our best bites

The leftovers might also be quite thick; just heat it up and then add a little water or broth (or hot ham water a la Lindsay Bluth) until the desired consistency is reached. This soup is awesome topped with Sara’s Sourdough Garlic-Herb Croutons (and I really, really encourage the whole sourdough part; it just matches the soup so well!)

split pea soup from our best bites

This soup is perfect for cold, yucky days and nights like we’re having here in Louisiana right now!
split pea soup from our best bites

 

 

68 comments

  1. amt1218–Are you at a high altitude? You probably do need to cook them longer or soak them first; I'll definitely add that to my directions because I tend to forget. 🙂 Once they're cooked, they will change the texture of your soup because they'll act like a thickening agent. Generally, they should be the star of the show rather than in the background (like in a vegetable soup) just because the texture will be a little weird. Think of them more like lentils than like actual peas, you know?

  2. UHHHHHHHHHHHHH sorry for the double post and they mispellings! I hate when that happens! I know you throw in something not through it in! LOL! My brain is not awake fully yet!
    THANKS!!

  3. I've never cooked with split peas before. But because they looked so pretty I bought some awhile back. I put them in a mason jar to look at 🙂 So yesterday I was making vegetable beef soup in my slow cooker and decided to try them out. So I through in a half a cup of them into my vege soup. I'm not sure but think they must need a lot of cooking. Should they be soaked first like most dried beans or do I need to just cook them longer? I cooked my soup for about 6 hrs on high but the peas were still "crunchy". I felt it through off my entire pot of soup with this strange texture. Any ideas? I really want to like them and want to try split peas soup with ham but am afraid after my first experience.

  4. I've never cooked with split peas before. But because they looked so pretty I bought some awhile back. I put them in a mason jar to look at 🙂 So yesterday I was making vegetable beef soup in my slow cooker and decided to try them out. So I through in a half a cup of them into my vege soup. I'm not sure but think they must need a lot of cooking. Should they be soaked first like most dried beans or do I need to just cook them longer? I cooked my soup for about 6 hrs on high but the peas were still "crunchy". I felt it through off my entire pot of soup with this strange texture. Any ideas? I really want to like them and want to try split peas soup with ham but am afraid after my first experience.

    1. Even dried items can get old if they were bought “a while back”. I recommend soaking dried beans overnight if they have been sitting on your shelf for over three months. Hope that helps!
      Cheers!
      Julie

  5. I made split pea over the weekend and it just didn't turn out the way I wanted – I did it too fast though and din't take time to spice it up. Looking forward to trying this recipe. I tried using smoked pork that I buy at Costco but its not the same as smoked ham.

  6. Thanks for this recipe. I just looked at your site yesterday to see if you had a split pea soup recipe. Excited to see it today so I can use up some leftover ham.

  7. Made this last night,thanks for the recipe. It was a hit with everyone ! Just the perfect comfort food. Delish!

    Thanks again,
    Elise

  8. In the UK you can often get ham 'bits' cheap off the deli counter at the supermarket. I always buy them to cook with (there's 2 of us so a joint's too big)- after all why pay more for dainty slices if it is to be chopped up anyway?

  9. If you run your split peas through a wheat grinder, you can make split pea soup in about 5 minutes. Actually, I'd let it cook for a bit longer so that the spices and flavors meld, but you can make it faster if you need a quick dinner.
    You can cook the veggies in the pressure cooker and add the ground peas to it. Let it simmer and remove the bay leaf! Trust me, you do NOT want to run it through a blender, nor just leave it in there. (don't ask!)lol

  10. This will be a must try for me in 2011!! My mother also makes a wonderful ham and bean soup, but your ingredients sound like yours is going to be a "party in my mouth.". ;). Thanks for sharing! Love, love, LOVE your blog!!!!!!!!!!! I just posted about your 7-layer Greek dip in my 2010 blessings. Although I didn't admit it, I literally ate over half that dip. And I'd do it again in a New York minute! 🙂

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