This split pea soup recipe with ham has been in my family for decades. With only a few ingredients, it’s easy to prepare for lunch or dinner any day of the week – and is just as delicious made ahead or reheated from frozen!
It’s hard to believe how delicious this soup is. The first time I learned what was in my dad’s split pea soup, I was floored. It. Is. So. Easy. And BEYOND flavorful. Sick of thin, watery pea soup? This soup is creamy, hearty and heartwarming.
Looking for another hearty soup recipe too? Try my New England Corn Chowder recipe.
Split Pea Soup Recipe
Why is this split pea soup the best recipe ever? Here are the top five reasons why you’ll love it:
- Decades of testing (it’s a family heirloom!)
- Smoky, meaty undertones from ham
- So easy to make
- Make it ahead and simply reheat it
Ingredients for Split Pea Soup
- Chicken broth – chicken broth is the base for our soup. I prefer low-sodium chicken broth!
- Smoked ham – a smoked ham steak is the easiest cut of ham to cube up. You can also use a quarter or half ham from the grocery store. Really any cut works as long as it’s smoky and meaty and delicious!
- Green split peas – split peas are usually sold near the dried beans in the grocery store. I like green peas better than yellow for this soup.
- Carrots – carrots add sweetness and a pop of color to our split pea soup.
- Celery hearts – celery adds mild earthiness to our soup.
- Sweet onions – sweet onions add a tangy, sweet undertone.
- Head of garlic – you might think it’s crazy, but trust me! The whole head of smashed garlic cloves add subtle but powerful depth of flavor. It’s the secret ingredient.
- Bay leaf – a bay leaf adds warmth and complexity.
Variations and Substitutions
If you’re looking to change things up, try one (or two) or these variations and substitutions for split pea soup bliss!
- Use bacon, pancetta or prosciutto: not a ham fan? Try smoked bacon, crispy pancetta, or diced prosciutto instead! Make the soup in the same way…just swap out ham for your new addition.
- Add potatoes: add in diced potatoes with about 30 minutes left of simmering. I recommend not blending all potatoes and leaving some pieces intact so the soup doesn’t get too thick.
- Make it vegetarian: remove the ham and use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. Even add a dash or two of liquid smoke to mimic the smokiness of the ham.
- Add shrimp: stir in mini cooked (or grilled) shrimp without the tails a few minutes before serving.
How to Make Split Pea Soup (With Ham)
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
Add all ingredients to a large pot.
Cover, and bring soup to a boil. Once boiling, turn to a gentle simmer over low heat. Let simmer, covered, for 90 minutes. Stir occasionally.
After 90 minutes, peas will have disintegrated. Remove bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use either a potato masher (for chunky soup), an immersion blender (for semi-chunky soup), or a blender (smooth soup) to blend to desired texture. I use an immersion blender and blend directly in the pot (see video below for technique), so I can leave about 1/3 of the diced ham and carrots intact, blending the rest into a creamy, uniform soup.
That’s it! Serve.
- Use between 1.5 and 2 pounds of smoked ham for this recipe.
- Look for the words “smoked ham” on the packaging.
- Use an immersion blender for a semi-chunky split pea soup. Or use a blender for a smooth soup, or even a potato masher for an extra chunky one!
- Believe it or not, you won’t taste the garlic; it adds incredibly flavor without being garlicky!
Storage and Make Ahead
- Make ahead: You can absolutely make split pea soup ahead. I actually think it tastes better the next day when the flavors have melded together even more.
- Storage: Split pea soup with ham lasts 4-5 days in the refrigerator, once it has cooled completely.
- Freezing: Split pea soup freezes very well for about 4 months!
- Reheating: Reheat split pea soup on medium-low heat in a covered pot, or in the microwave. It’s best to thaw frozen soup in the refrigerator before reheating, if time permits!
What to Serve With Split Pea Soup
Well if you’re asking me, the absolute best way to serve split pea soup is with warm rolls. Shall I suggest my Parker House Rolls, Yeast Rolls or easy Drop Biscuits? If you aren’t on the bread train, then serve alone (yes, you really don’t need anything on the side!), with Herb Roasted Root Vegetables, Maple Glazed Carrots, or Pan Seared Scallops or baked Juicy Chicken Breast.
Split Pea Soup Garnishes
- Homemade Garlic Croutons
- A dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche
- Crispy Fried Onion Strings
- A dusting of smoked paprika
- Finely chopped parsley or chives
- Cracked black pepper
- Cooked/grilled shrimp
- Roasted almonds or pine nuts
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Green peas are dried, the outer skin is peeled, and then the pea itself is split to create a split pea! Cooked split peas are much creamier than regular peas!
Absolutely not for this recipe.
This split pea soup is a healthy lunch or dinner, especially if you buy lean ham! It’s packed with protein, fiber and veggies.
More Soup Recipes You’ll Love!
- Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup With Sausage and Kale
- Best Easy French Onion Soup
- Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup
- Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
- Best New England Corn Chowder
- Immersion blender (or blender or potato masher depending on desired consistency)
- 8 cups (low-sodium) chicken broth 2 quarts
- 1 ½ pounds smoked ham steak or other boneless cut diced into roughly ½” cubes
- 1 pound green split peas
- 1 pound carrots peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 pound celery hearts roughly chopped
- 2 medium sweet onions roughly chopped
- 1 medium head garlic all cloves peeled and smashed with the side of your knife
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add all ingredients (split peas, chopped carrots, celery and onion, smashed garlic, diced ham, bay leaf, and chicken broth) to a large pot.
- Cover, and bring soup to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn to a gentle simmer over low heat. Let simmer, covered, for 90 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- After 90 minutes, peas will have disintegrated. Remove bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use either a potato masher (for chunky soup), an immersion blender (for semi-chunky soup), or a blender (smooth soup) to blend to desired texture. I use an immersion blender and blend directly in the pot (see video below for technique), so I can leave about 1/3 of the diced ham and carrot intact, blending the rest into a creamy, uniform soup. If you’re using a potato masher, mash directly in the pot to desired consistency. For smooth soup, place all soup in a blender and blend on medium until uniform and creamy.
- Serve with more black pepper (and warm rolls if you’re feeling it!).