This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.
Split Pea Soup with Ham is hearty, healthy, and comforting, but so easy to make from scratch. Just saute, simmer, and serve this satisfying gluten free comfort food recipe! You can use up your leftover holiday ham, but it can be made without a ham bone, so any chopped ham will do.
Split Pea Soup with Ham (but no ham bone needed)
Ham and split pea soup may be a classic, but it doesn’t seem to get much love. Maybe it’s that weirdly greenish color, which we all know gets the kids questioning what’s in their bowl. Or perhaps it’s because we only think about it when we have leftover Christmas ham we are trying to use up.
I think it’s time to bring this dish into the spotlight. From the aromatic vegetables, a few seasonings, and that ham, it has so much flavor. It’s rich and satisfying enough to be a meal on its own, but you can also enjoy it with a salad, sandwich, or scooped up with a hunk of bread.
But it’s also healthy! One bowl contains 24 grams of protein and 21 grams of fiber to keep you full and satisfied. Split peas are also high in fiber, iron, and folate. These are all components of heart-healthy recipes!
And let’s not forget that this split pea soup recipe is also naturally gluten free, grain free, and can even be made dairy free. It thickens naturally on its own, so there is no need to add flour, cornstarch, or any other thickeners.
- Unsalted butter – if you want to make this dairy free, you can use olive oil. Butter just adds a bit of richness to the flavor and texture.
- Onion – you’ll need about a cup, which is roughly one medium onion or half of a large one, diced small.
- Celery – depending on the size, about two or three stalks will give you about a cup of diced celery.
- Carrot – again you’ll need about two or three for a cup of diced carrot.
- Thyme – dried thyme works perfectly in this recipe since it simmers for awhile. No need to run out and buy fresh thyme.
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic – you can definitely use a little less if you prefer.
- Split peas – a one pound bag of dried split peas that you’ve rinsed and sorted to remove any small stones that may have gotten mixed in. You DO NOT need to soak the split peas.
- Ham – you can use leftovers from a baked ham that you’ve made for the holidays, or chop up a ham steak or boneless ham you’ve picked up at the grocery store. You DO NOT need a ham bone for this recipe, but if you have one, feel free to toss it in for extra flavor.
- Bay leaf
- Cayenne – just a pinch gives it a little warmth in the flavor versus a huge punch of heat, but you can omit this if you prefer.
- Chicken stock – homemade or from a box, which I prefer to canned broth.
- Fresh parsley – an optional garnish. It isn’t necessary, but it adds a nice bit of fresh flavor with the rich flavors of the soup.
How to make split pea soup from scratch
Besides being delicious and nutritious, it’s also super simple to make. You only need a few minutes of hands-on prep time to chop the veggies and ham and saute the aromatics. Then you can go about your day while it simmers on the stove and the smell of comfort food drifts through your home enticing you to come and enjoy a bowl. There really are only three main steps – saute, simmer, and serve.
Saute. Melt the butter in the stockpot, and saute the onion, carrot, and celery until softened. Add the thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic, and cook till fragrant.
Simmer. Add the split peas, ham, bay leaf, cayenne, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for up to an hour and a half until thickened, stirring frequently.
Serve. Ladle into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of parsley, if desired.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
You can keep the leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. And split pea soup freezes well. Place it in an airtight container or plastic freezer storage bags and freeze for up to two months for the best-tasting soup.
You can reheat it in the microwave or by gently warming it in a pot on the stove. If it is frozen, just be sure to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
This dish is satisfying enough to be a meal on its own. But you might want to serve it with some bread for dipping, alongside a salad, or to pair with a sandwich. All of these things go well with Ham and Split Pea Soup.
Bread for dipping
- Romaine Wedge Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
- Mixed Greens Salad with Poached Pears
- Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranates and Goat Cheese
Sandwiches and other mains
- Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese
- Turkey, Ham and Cheddar Apple Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to soak split peas before cooking?
No, unlike other legumes, split peas do not have to be soaked first. They will become soft and tender in just over an hour of simmering. Sure, if you plan in advance, you can soak them overnight and you will shorten your cooking time a bit, but it’s not necessary.
You will, however, want to sort through your bag of split peas to make sure there are no tiny rocks or other extraneous material.
Can you make split pea soup without a ham bone?
Absolutely, as you’ve seen, this split pea soup recipe does not even call for one. However, if you have made a ham for the holidays, don’t throw away that bone. Toss it in for even more flavor!
Can you make Split Pea Soup in a Slow Cooker?
Yes, while I haven’t tested this recipe, almost and basic split pea soup recipe you can find is adaptable to cooking in a crockpot. You can still saute the vegetables first in a skillet, or just toss everything in the slow cooker. But do try reducing the liquid by about 2 cups, adding more if needed to adjust to your desired consistency after it cooks. Then cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for about 4 hours.
Can you make Split Pea Soup in an Instant Pot?
Again, there shouldn’t be any reason you can’t make this in an electric pressure cooker. Do reduce the liquid by about 2 cups since none will evaporate. You can always add more to thin it out later on or use the Saute setting to boil off any excess liquid.
Use the Saute setting for the first step, then cook on Manual for 15 minutes, allowing the pressure to then release naturally for about 10 minutes before doing a quick release.
Shop the Recipe
For making this soup, I recommend a good heavy-bottomed pot. Because it simmers for a while, this ensures even heat distribution to prevent scorching. I believe it is worth investing in a good enameled cast iron Dutch oven for making soups and stews. I do love my Le Creuset Dutch Oven because I know it will last forever and is so easy to clean. But I have heard many good reviews of Lodge Enameled Cast Iron for a more budget-friendly option.
Ham and Split Pea Soup
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 pound split peas , rinsed and sorted
- 1 cups diced ham
- 1 bay leaf
- Pinch of cayenne
- 10 cups chicken stock
- Fresh parsley , chopped fine, garnish, optional
- In a large stockpot or dutch oven melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, stirring occasionally cook until softened, 5-8 minutes.
- Add the thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic cook until the garlic is fragrant, stirring constantly, 30 seconds.
- Add the split peas, ham, bay leaf, cayenne, and chicken stock, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered 1 hour 15 to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until thickened. Stir every few minutes. You can add more broth or water if too much evaporates before the peas are soft.
- Serve with an optional garnish of fresh parsley.