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Dad’s Split Pea Soup With Ham

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5 from 80 votes

This split pea soup recipe has been in my family for decades. With only a few ingredients including smoky ham, it’s easy to prepare for lunch or dinner any day of the week – and is just as delicious made ahead!

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.  

There’s a couple of reasons why this split pea soup is so delicious. It’s loaded with smoked ham which adds texture and of course, smoky flavor. The second trick is blending. There are three ways you can blend this soup based on your preference. The first is to leave the soup extra chunky. The second is to use an immersion blender for creamy split pea soup with some whole ingredients still intact for texture. This is my favorite way to serve it. The last is to pop the whole thing in a traditional blender and let it go, for creamy, smooth split pea soup. The choice is yours!

And speaking of family heirloom recipes, dad and mom really knows how to cook! Check out his Sausage Succotash and Peanut Sauce and her Strawberry Preserves. You certainly won’t regret it!

Why is this split pea soup the best recipe ever? It’s creamy, it’s smoky, it’s easy, it’s fabulous…the list goes on and on. But here are the top five reasons why you’ll love it and it will become a family heirloom in your house too.

  • Decades of testing (it’s a family heirloom!)
  • Smoky, meaty undertones from ham
  • SO easy to make
  • Make it ahead and simply reheat it
  • Freezer-friendly!

Split Pea Soup Recipe Video

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.
Split pea soup ingredients

How to Make Split Pea Soup With Ham

Make the best split pea soup! Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!

  1. Add.

    Add all ingredients to a large pot.

  2. Simmer.

    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.

  3. Blend.

    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.

  4. Serve.

    That’s it! Serve.

Ham Options for Split Pea Soup

  • Ham hock: adding a ham hock while the soup simmers can infuse the soup with rich, smoky flavor.
  • Ham bone: if you have a leftover ham bone, you can add it to the soup while it simmers to add savory, smoky flavor.
  • Bacon or pancetta: I mean, you can’t go wrong with that!
  • Vegetarian option: don’t want ham? No worries? Leave it out. You can even add in a splash of liquid smoke to mimic the smokiness of ham without the meat.

Serving Tips

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 Roasted Root Vegetables, Glazed Carrots, or Seared Scallops or baked Juicy Chicken Breast. My favorite split pea soup garnishes and toppings include:

  • Homemade Croutons
  • A dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche
  • Crispy fried onions
  • A dusting of smoked paprika
  • Finely chopped parsley or chives
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Cooked/grilled shrimp
  • Roasted almonds or pine nuts

Storage

  • 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!

Variations

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are split peas?

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!

Do split peas need to be soaked before cooking?

Absolutely not for this recipe.

Is split pea soup healthy?

This split pea soup is a healthy lunch or dinner, especially if you buy lean ham! It’s packed with protein, fiber and veggies.

Can you use leftover ham?

Yes, absolutely! If you have leftover ham, no need to buy a special cut!

What kind of ham is best for split pea soup?

I like to use a smoked ham steak which is the easiest cut of ham to dice. It will add flavor and texture to the soup. You can also use leftover ham from a roast. Another good choice would be a smoked ham hock or ham bone with some meat still attached. The ham bone will infuse the soup with a delicious depth without adding as much meat to the soup, if that’s your preference!

      More Soup Recipes You’ll Love!

      Dad’s Split Pea Soup With Ham

      This split pea soup recipe has been in my family for decades. With only a few ingredients including smoky ham, it’s easy to prepare for lunch or dinner any day of the week – and is just as delicious made ahead!
      5 from 80 votes
      Prep Time: 30 minutes
      Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
      Total Time: 2 hours
      Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Soup
      Cuisine: American, English, New England
      Keyword: winter
      Servings: 7 medium portions
      Calories: 455kcal
      Author: Tastefully Grace

      Equipment

      • Immersion blender (or blender or potato masher depending on desired consistency)

      Ingredients

      • 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

      Instructions

      • 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!).

      Video

      Notes

      • See my post above for garnishes and serving suggestions.
      • Use about 1.5 to 2 pounds of ham for this recipe.
      • You won’t taste the garlic. It only enhances the flavor of the soup!

      Nutrition

      Serving: 1serving | Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 1429mg | Potassium: 1688mg | Fiber: 20g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 11215IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 5mg
      Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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      18 Comments

      1. David Kahn
        April 17, 2024 / 7:43 pm

        5 stars
        This recipe tasted amazing. I added 12 cups of water and minced some additional ham and I was told that this was the best tasting split pea soup I have ever made.

        • April 18, 2024 / 9:52 am

          Thanks for your review, David! I’m so glad the soup turned out well!

          Grace

      2. Tracy
        January 19, 2024 / 5:34 pm

        5 stars
        I just made this soup on a wintry January afternoon. It is fabulous. I followed the recipe. The only thing I added was a little heavy, whipping cream at the end and I puréed half the beans.. I also added some pancetta. Simply delicious. Thank you for posting.

        • January 19, 2024 / 6:04 pm

          Hi Tracy,

          Aw I’m so glad you love the soup! A touch of cream sounds fabulous. And pancetta…LOVE!

          Grace

      3. Melissa Kay Jamison
        November 13, 2023 / 6:13 pm

        5 stars
        I made this today and we love it. I didn’t user celary to bay leaf though.
        I only wish you would list what exactly a serving size is, in ounces or cups. I am a Type 1 diabetic and had to guess on a serving size.

        • November 14, 2023 / 9:22 am

          Hi Melissa,

          Thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad you loved the soup! I appreciate your feedback about serving size and will try to provide more exact servings in the future!

          Grace

      4. Deborah N.
        September 26, 2023 / 11:18 am

        May I please ask if this can be made in a slow cooker, (crockpot), please? If so directions. My stove is not working.
        Thank you..sure hope it can be done in crockpot because it sounds yummy.

        • September 26, 2023 / 11:34 am

          Hi Deborah,

          Thanks for reaching out! Although I haven’t tried making the soup in a crockpot, upon researching, it looks like it should work out well. Follow the recipe, but instead of simmering on the stovetop, cook on low in the crockpot for 6-8 hours. Please let me know how it turns out!

          Grace

          • Anonymous
            September 28, 2023 / 3:07 am

            Thank you for your reply. I am going to try this in the crockpot. It won’t be right away because our weather is still pretty warm.

            • September 28, 2023 / 8:16 am

              Awesome! Please let me know how it turns out!

              Grace

      5. Melissa
        March 30, 2023 / 5:04 pm

        5 stars
        This recipe is easy and delicious. I had never had “homemade” split pea soup before. I’m a fan and I ate mine with garlic croutons and Parmesan cheese. Will make again.

        • March 31, 2023 / 9:13 am

          Hi Melissa,

          The garlic croutons and parm sounds fantastic! So happy you liked the recipe.

          Grace

      6. January 3, 2023 / 8:23 pm

        5 stars
        All I can say is WOW & AMAZING. My family thoroughly enjoyed the Dad’s Split Pea Soup. It was
        my first cooking split pea soup but I’ve been asked to make more for an upcoming event. Thank you for sharing. Can’t wait to try more recipes. East Texas Fan

        • January 4, 2023 / 8:53 am

          This made my day! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

          Grace

      7. Phil
        January 1, 2023 / 10:46 pm

        5 stars
        Excellent, simple easy to follow recipe
        My only variation was to add 1/2 cup of precooked blackeyed peas. Did this because it was new years day & is a long standing tradition in my southern rooted family. My wife liked it so much she had seconds, she had not tried split pea soup since she was a kid & like a lot of kids hated it or thought she did. Amyhow thank you for shareing your dads recipe. And Happy New Year!

        • January 2, 2023 / 12:16 pm

          Sounds delicious with the black eyes peas! Thanks so much for your comment.

          Happy New Year!
          Grace

      8. Daniel Gallagher
        December 29, 2022 / 2:26 pm

        5 stars
        Loved Dad’s Pea soup!
        Very simple recipe and very delicious!

        • December 29, 2022 / 2:29 pm

          Yay! Thanks so much for letting me know.

          Happy New Year!
          Grace

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