Split Pea Soup – This savory ham and split pea soup recipe is the perfect comfort food! Plus, it’s easy to make on the stove, in the slow cooker, or Instant Pot! (Gluten Free + Dairy Free)
Let’s be honest: split pea soup isn’t going to win any beauty contests.
This humble greenish soup looks, well, pretty humble. But don’t be fooled by its appearance! Split pea soup is a classic for a reason: it’s delicious! It’s the perfect hearty soup for making after the holidays (using up a hame bone!), or warming you up on a chilly day. (Seriously, so good on a snowy or rainy day!)
And, ironically, it doesn’t taste strongly of peas! Instead, this slow-simmered soup has a delicious, hearty flavor that will warm you up in your bones.
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO SPLIT PEA SOUP.
- HAM (OR A HAM HOCK OR A HAM BONE). If you’ve got leftovers from a bone-in ham from Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter (or any other time!), this soup recipe is the perfect way to use them. The ham leftover on the ham bone is extra flavorful, and we’ll coax every last drop of smoky, savory flavor out of it in this soup. If you don’t have bone-in ham, you can absolutely use some diced ham or a ham hock if you prefer. (More on this in the FAQ!)
- ONION + CARROTS + CELERY (MIREPOIX) + GARLIC. This classic trifecta of veggies–onion, celery, and carrots–known as mirepoix form the backbone of LOTS of classic dishes and soups, and they’re the perfect veggie base for my split pea soup recipe. You’ll get plenty of flavor, and the veggies get meltingly tender during the simmer time. Then, we develop the flavor even more with a little garlic. So good!
- (GREEN) SPLIT PEAS. It wouldn’t be split pea soup without split peas! If you’re unfamiliar with them, split peas are dried, peeled, and “split” (halved) peas that are high in fiber and protein, and get super tender when cooked. They come in yellow and green varieties. I typically use green for this soup. They’re more common and easier to find where I live. (Plus they only cost $1-3 per pound, even if you buy organic!)
- BROTH OR WATER. Lastly, we fill out the soup with plenty of broth or water. You can use chicken broth, veggie broth, or water for this recipe. If you do use broth, I HIGHLY recommend low-sodium, as the salt can add up fast in this recipe.
- A FEW SEASONINGS AT THE END. I usually add my salt and seasonings as I cook, to develop each layer of flavor, but I *don’t* recommend doing that for this split pea soup recipe. Between the ham and the broth, it’s difficult to know exactly how salty the soup could turn out until the end of the simmer time. I usually add a hefty pinch of pepper, then only add salt if needed after tasting it.
SPEED THINGS UP! HERE’S HOW TO COOK SPLIT PEA SOUP IN A SLOW COOKER OR INSTANT POT.
Sometimes, you need something quicker or more hands-off, and the Instant Pot and Slow Cooker are here to the rescue!
HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT SPLIT PEA SOUP:
- Make instant pot split pea soup by pressing SAUTÉ, then adding your olive oil, onions, celery, and carrots and cooking 5-10 minutes in the Instant Pot until tender.
- Add the garlic and cook 30-60 seconds more, just until fragrant.
- Press CANCEL, and add your ham, split peas, and broth/water.
- Set the steam vent to SEALING, then press PRESSURE COOK (manual) and cook for 15 minutes.
- Manually release the pressure about 10-15 minutes, then quick release the remaining steam.
- Stir and remove the ham bone (if using), shredding in any ham.
HOW TO MAKE SLOW COOKER SPLIT PEA SOUP:
- For slow cooker split pea soup, instead of sautéing your ingredients, you’ll just “dump and go.”
- Place everything (you can skip the olive oil) in the slow cooker and cover with the lid.
- Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW 7-8 hours, until the peas are very tender.
- Remove the ham bone (if using) and shred off any ham into the soup. Stir and serve!
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST SPLIT PEA SOUP.
WHAT KIND OF HAM DO YOU USE FOR SPLIT PEA SOUP? I prefer bone-in ham because of the flavor (+bone broth benefits). I look for nitrate-free, naturally cured smoked ham so there aren’t a lot of additives and preservatives. Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, and Thrive Market are great places to look. If you don’t have bone-in ham, look for nitrate-free, uncured ham. (Niman Ranch 8oz. ham steaks are at Sprouts for a great price.) Or, you can get super old-fashioned and use ham hocks.
A TIP FOR REHEATING SPLIT PEA SOUP. Especially if you’ve used bone-in ham, this soup thickens quite a bit when refrigerated. It’ll look kind of crazy, but will reheat very well. Just scoop it into your bowl and microwave with a splash of water or reheat on the stove with a little water to loosen it up, if needed.
CAN I MAKE SPLIT PEA SOUP IN A SLOW COOKER? You absolutely can! I’ve got full instructions in the section above or in the notes of the recipe card below.
CAN I MAKE SPLIT PEA SOUP IN AN INSTANT POT? You bet! Scroll up to the last section for full instructions or see the notes in the recipe card 🙂
CAN YOU FREEZE SPLIT PEA SOUP? Yes! Split pea soup freezes really well. I like to scoop it in 2-cup or 4-cup portions in freezer-safe bags, then lay them flat on a plate or sheet pan to freeze. When they’re frozen flat, you can store them more easily and they’ll thaw more quickly when you’re ready to use them. Just thaw in the refrigerator and warm them up on the stove when you’re ready to eat it!
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