This easy to make split pea soup will become a quick household favorite. Made with a ham bone, peas and mirepoix this is the perfect hearty and comforting soup for the winter or whenever you have a leftover ham bone!
My father was the one that turned me on to split pea soup. Naturally I was a kid and thought it sounded really gross but he made me eat it anyway. Lo and behold it was really really tasty and I couple get enough. This is the perfect soup to make once the weather turns cold or even when it is warm out because it still tastes great chilled. However my favorite is that you can use that leftover ham bone from any holiday meal or whenever you and your family might have ham.
In this recipe
One of the reasons that I like this soup is that it uses very simple ingredients.
Ham bone: this can be a bone from a leftover spiral cut ham or another bone-in ham. You can also use ham shanks as well. Just make sure there is some meat left on the bone.
Chicken/Vegetable broth: the recipe uses a combination of both however you can use all chicken broth, all vegetable broth, or a broth and water combination. I have found the soup more flavorful that way compared to just using water. However plain water works as well.
Fresh/dried herbs: when using fresh herbs you want to use twice as much as you would the dried version so for this recipe that would be 4 fresh bay leaves and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.
What kind of ham should I use?
If you are using your leftover ham bones from a previous meal you will want to make sure that the ham to does not have an intensely sweet or smokey flavor. Both of these will transfer into the soup. I say that with a caveat however since I happen to like a really smokey flavored ham so I am not opposed to those flavors merging with the rest. The same goes with the sweet glazed hams. If there is a lot of sugar, orange, honey or strong flavors like those they will impact the flavor of the soup as well.
Cooking split pea soup
One of the things you will want to do is make sure that the vegetables have softened before adding the broth. I like to take it a step further especially when using only water. I will cook the mirepoix until the vegetables start caramelizing and the bottom of the pot brown. This will add additional depth of flavor. Then once all of the rest of the ingredients have been added bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and then cover. This is where the magic happens. If your bone looks like mine you might want to rotate it halfway through cooking.
Versatility is key
One of the reasons that I like this soup is that when I am making it for my vegetarian friends it is really easy. I will take out the ham bone and only use vegetable stock. Since there isn’t any ham I will toast some bread into large croutons to then add to the soup to make it more hearty. Regardless of the ingredients I will puree the soup to make it smooth. If you want additional texture then do not puree before adding the remaining the carrots and if you want a smooth soup add all of the carrots before pureeing.
Looking for other soup recipes?
Split Pea Soup
- Dutch oven or large soup pot
- Immersion blender optional
- 4 cups chicken broth unsalted
- 4 cups vegetable broth unsalted, or water
- 1½ pound ham bone or ham shanks with plenty of meat left of on the bone
- 1 pound dried split peas rinsed
- 1½ cups sweet onion chopped, about 1 medium onion
- 1¼ cup carrots chopped
- 1¼ cups celery chopped, about 3 ribs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced, about 3 cloves
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 bay leaves
- In a Dutch oven or large soup pot heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onions, celery and 3/4 cup of carrots. Cook until the onions start to turn translucent and soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute longer.
- Add the chicken and vegetable broth, the ham bone, peas, thyme, pepper, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Cover and cook for 75 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Remove the ham bone and bay leaves and allow the ham bone to cool enough to handle.
- While the ham bone is cooling use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Add the remaining carrots and return to the heat to cook for another 30 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking cut the ham off of the bone and shred or slice it into smaller pieces. Add it back to the soup just before serving.
- This recipe calls for salt however you will want to taste the soup before adding additional salt as the ham will add a considerable amount. I normally do not need to add any. Add salt to taste.
- As the soup cools it will thicken, you can thin it by adding additional water before serving or reheating.