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Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes

Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes in decorative bowl topped with croutons.
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Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes is a heartwarming soup made with a meaty ham bone and abundant with smoky ham, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and creamy split peas in a thick and flavorful broth. My version includes the easiest, most delicious croutons that my mom made to top off every bowl of this soup that she ever served me. Read on for more!

Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes in decorative bowl topped with croutons.

This split pea soup is the most delicious use of your leftover holiday or Sunday ham. It’s so hearty and thick that I’d consider it a chowder of sorts.

The meaty smoked ham bone or ham hock adds such rich and savory depth of flavor to the broth that one bowl will just not be enough. And, the sweet carrots are a great complement to the ham’s smokiness.

Fresh dill, while optional, adds a nice freshness to the soup’s flavor. And, the fresh lemon juice, which is a key ingredient, imparts a really nice brightness.

But, my favorite part of this recipe may actually be the quick and easy toast croutons that top off this zuppa! Creamy split pea soup and crunchy croutons go together like tomato and basil, in my humble opinion. You may find yourself piling them on once you realize how great they are. My suggestion–make a lot!

These croutons would also be a great topping for Lentil Soup with Sausage and Escarole and Cannellini Bean Soup.

Are Split Peas Beans, Legumes or Pulses? Or, all 3?

I’ve always been a bit confused by these terms, which are often used interchangeably. So, let me help clear this up, for those that are interested.

legume is an umbrella terms that refers to any plant from the Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) botanical family. This includes all dry and fresh beans, soybeans and peas, lentils, chickpeas and peanuts.

pulse is the dried edible seed from a legume plant–not all legumes are pulses. Pulses include dried beans, peas and lentils and chickpeas.

So, split peas are pulses, which is a category of legumes and are grown specifically to be dried. They can be green or yellow. When split peas are hulled (when the seed coats are removed), they are split in half along the natural seam. Hence the term “SPLIT” peas. If you’d like to read more about this, click here for a great resource.

Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes in decorative bowl styled on yellow and green towels on a cutting board with wooden spoon and dish of croutons surrounding it.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Simple to Prepare and Budget-Friendly: Split Pea and Ham with Potatoes Soup is very easy and fairly foolproof to prepare. And, even if you don’t have ham leftovers at the ready, ham hocks and ham (and split peas!) are inexpensive to buy, yielding a huge pot of soup!
  • Your kitchen will smell great with a smoky, savory aroma as this soup simmers away.
  • Comforting and Nourishing: This soup is a great comfort recipe! Rustic, hearty and packed with great flavor, texture and protein.
  • Perfect for Meal Prep as it freezes beautifully.
  • Versatile and Dairy-Free: Can be made vegan easily by eliminating the ham and ham bone and using vegetable stock and gluten-free by leaving out the croutons.

Add this recipe to your next post-holiday ham menu. The whole family will love it! Mangia bene!

Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes in red bowl topped with croutons and fresh dill garnish.

Ingredients for Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes

⁠To make this split pea soup with ham bone recipe, we’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Split Peas: Green split peas are sweeter, less starchy and preferred for this soup, but you can use yellow as well. Since the peas are split, they cook faster than regular beans, do not need to be soaked and turn very creamy when cooked through. Be sure to rinse and pick through them for stones or small pebbles.
  • Ham Bone/Hock and Diced Ham: Use either a meaty ham bone and leftover diced ham from a smoked, spiral baked ham or a smoked ham hock and ham steak. Almost any smoked or cured ham will work, such as deli tavern, black forest or Virginia ham. I don’t suggest using a honey or maple ham due to their sweetness. You can use typical deli slices, but it’s better to ask the deli to just cut you one large piece that you can cube up at home. A ham bone or smoked ham hock adds incredible flavor to this soup!
  • Onions, Carrots, Celery, Garlic: These aromatics are important components in building a strong base of flavor in this an many other soups.
  • Potatoes: I love the creaminess and heartiness that potatoes lend to this soup. All-purpose or russet potatoes are recommended.
  • Dill and Fresh Lemon Juice: Fresh dill (which is optional) and lemon juice add a final punch of freshness and brightness to this delicious soup!
  • Broth (vegetable broth or chicken broth): I always suggest a low- or no-sodium version. Regular varieties are laden with sodium and it is always better for you to control the amount of salt in the final product! If you have homemade broth, by all means–use it!
  • Bread, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Spices: Used to make the quick and easy toast croutons to top off this soup. They are addictive. Make extra. And, use the really great extra virgin olive oil here!

Ingredients for Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes.

How to Make Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes

Here are the main steps for how to make this split pea soup recipe:

  • Heat oil in a 6-quart (or larger) Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add onions, half the carrots, celery and garlic and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Add broth, split peas, ham hock or bone, potatoes (drain if held in water) and black pepper and stir until all ingredients are well combined. Cover pot and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer, partially covered, until split peas are soft and broken down and soup has thickened, stirring regularly. This will take about 60 minutes or so.
    • PRO-TIP: Be sure to sort through the split peas carefully before use to pick for stones and small pebbles.
Sautéing onions, carrots, celery and garlic in Dutch oven.
Stirring broth split peas, potatoes and ham bone into pot.
  • While the soup is simmering, make the quick toast croutons. Toast slices of bread, then cut then into squares. Combine them with extra virgin olive oil and the spices to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.

Ingredients for quick toast croutons.
Drizzling extra virgin olive oil into croutons.
Toast croutons up close on spoon.

  • After about 45 minutes, slice off any meat from hock/bone and add it to the soup.
    • PRO-TIP: Add more liquid (water or broth) if the soup becomes too thick.

  • When there is about 15 minutes of cooking left, add remaining carrots and diced ham and continue cooking until carrots are tender.
    • PRO-TIP: Some carrots are added toward the end of cooking so that they will remain firm/al dente and also present beautifully.

Cutting meat off ham bone.
Adding remaining carrots to pot of simmering soup.
  • Remove ham hock/bone, stir in lemon juice, and turn off heat. Serve piping hot topped with the croutons. That’s it!
Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes in decorative bowl topped with toast croutons with wooden spoon in background.

More Hearty Soup Recipes

If you like this split pea with carrots recipe, check out:

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to soak split peas? What about rinsing them?

Dried split peas do not need to be soaked before using. As they are “split”, they cook faster than regular beans. But, do be sure to pick through them carefully before using to check for small pebbles or debris. And, for sure rinse them in cold water to remove any residual dust.

Can I make this Split Pea Soup without Ham?

You sure can and I actually grew up with the vegetarian version. If leaving out the ham, I suggest starting with 6 cups broth instead of 8 and then adding more as needed.

What kind of ham is best for split pea soup?

Leftover baked, smoked ham is my first choice for this soup. If you don’t have any leftover ham, ask your butcher for a smoked ham hock and ham steak. But, almost any smoked or cured ham will work, such as deli tavern, black forest or Virginia ham. I don’t suggest using a honey or maple ham due to their sweetness. You can use typical deli slices, but it’s better to ask the deli to just cut you one large piece that you can cube up at home.
 
You can substitute smoked bacon or smoked sausage without affecting the recipe that much.

What is the difference between a ham bone and a ham hock?

They are two different parts of the pig. Ham bones typically come from the leg, while ham hocks, which are typically smoked, come from the shank or bottom part of the leg, close to the ankle. Both are essential to creating a distinctive, rich, meaty flavor.

I don’t eat ham/pork. What else can I use?

Smoked turkey bacon or smoked turkey legs are good, pork-free options. If you prefer to not use meat, that’s fine, too. You can make the recipe as is and just eliminate the ham (and reduce the amount of broth). Or, you can add a bit of smoked paprika to add a bit of smokiness.

Can I make this Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes in a slow-cooker?

Yes. Combine all the soup ingredients, except the fresh dill and lemon juice, in the crock pot and cook on high for about 4 hours or low for about 8 hours or until the peas have cooked. Then, stir in the fresh dill and lemon juice.
 
Also, be sure to remove any meat from the ham bone towards the end of cooking and add it back to the soup.


Close up of Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes on spoon with bowl of soup in background.

If you still have ham leftovers from that holiday ham after making thins soup, check out my top tips for freezing and handling those leftovers here.

Recipe Variations and Substitutions for Split Pea Soup

This soup recipe is pretty perfect as is, but here are a few ideas for simple twists on this recipe:

  • Puree Soup: After you remove the ham hock and before you add the diced ham, you can puree this soup with an immersion blender if you’d like a really smooth soup.
  • Make it Vegetarian: The ham adds lots of flavor to this soup, as well as an element of savoriness, smokiness and saltiness. But, it can easily be left out and still result in a delicious soup. In fact, I grew up on vegetarian split pea soup! If you still desire some smokiness, consider a pinch of smoked paprika.
  • Add More Veggies: Spinach, escarole and swiss chard could be chopped and added to this soup along with the second amount of carrots for a nutritious boost.
  • Add Lentils: Substituting half the split peas with lentils will make a popular split pea and lentil soup!
  • Make it Lower Carb: Leave out the potato and the croutons for a lower carb version of this soup.
Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes in decorative bowl topped with toast croutons.

TOP TIPS FOR SPLIT PEA AND HAM SOUP WITH POTATOES

  • Pick through the split peas for stones or other foreign objects before using–nothing kills a great bite like a little stone!
  • The cooking time is a guideline as older beans take longer to cook, especially when stored in a dry environment. Just continue to simmer until all the peas have softened.
  • Consistency: The longer you simmer this soup, the more it thickens as the peas break down and the liquid reduces. Add additional water or broth if the soup becomes too thick.
  • Salt: There’s no added salt in this recipe because both the ham and ham bone are very salt heavy. Use your judgment and adjust seasonings at the very end, if necessary.
  • Ham: This soup is PERFECT for leftover baked, bone-in ham. However, lots of grocery stores and butchers sell ham hocks and ham steaks. I always get mine at the local Amish market if I haven’t made a baked ham recently.
  • The Quick Toast Croutons are EVERYTHING! Make them. Make extra.
  • Serving Suggestions: This is a hearty soup that could easily be a meal in and of itself in a larger portion. A light green salad and some crusty bread are classic accompaniments. Alternatively, this soup could be served as a first course in a smaller portion and be followed by chicken cutlets, a simple roast chicken, or plate of roasted vegetables.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat it slowly over medium low heat while stirring, adding additional broth or water if needed.

More Great Recipes to Try

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Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes in decorative bowl topped with croutons.

Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes

Michele
Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes is a heartwarming soup made with a meaty ham bone and abundant with smoky ham, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and creamy split peas in a thick and flavorful broth. My version includes the easiest, most delicious croutons to top off every bowl!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian, American
Servings 8 servings

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced or diced carrots, divided
  • 2 cups diced yellow onions
  • cups diced celery
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced or chopped garlic
  • 8 cups low- or no-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 pound split peas, rinsed and picked through for stones
  • 1 ham hock or meaty ham bone from leftover baked ham
  • 2 cups peeled, diced all-purpose or russet potatoes (hold in bowl of cold water until use)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup diced cooked ham, preferably smoked (6-8 ounces)
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon (2-3 Tbsp)

For the Quick Toast Croutons:

Instructions
 

  • Prep all ingredients according to specifications above. Be sure to sort through the split peas carefully before use to pick for stones and small pebbles. If using a smoked ham hock, score the skin a bit to help render out fat (and flavor).
    (Please see the section above in the blog post for Step-By-Step instructions with photos.)
  • Heat oil in a 6-quart (or larger) pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, half the carrots, celery and garlic and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 cups diced yellow onions, 1½ cups diced celery, ¼ cup thinly sliced or chopped garlic
  • Add broth, split peas, ham hock or bone, potatoes (drain if held in water) and black pepper and stir until all ingredients are well combined. Cover pot and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer, partially covered, until split peas are soft and broken down and soup has thickened, stirring regularly. This could take anywhere from 60-90 minutes or so depending on the age of the peas.
    8 cups low- or no-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, 1 pound split peas,, 1 ham hock or meaty ham bone from leftover, 2 cups peeled, diced all-purpose or russet potatoes, ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • While the soup is simmering, make the quick toast croutons. Toast slices of bread, then cut then into squares. Combine them with extra virgin olive oil and the spices to taste. Be generous with the olive oil and spices. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.
    4-6 slices bread, Extra-virgin olive oil, Pinch salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder
  • After about 45 minutes, slice off any meat from hock/bone and add it to the soup. Return the ham bone to the soup.
  • When there is about 15 minutes of cooking left, add remaining carrots and diced ham and continue cooking until carrots are tender.
    1 cup diced cooked ham,
  • Remove ham hock/bone, stir in dill (if including) and lemon juice, and turn off heat.
    2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, Juice of one lemon
  • Serve piping hot topped with the croutons. Buon Appetito!

Notes

  • This recipe makes 10 cups or so can easily be cut in half to yield a smaller amount. If you do this, you can use a smaller pot.
  • The split peas do not need to be soaked for this recipe.
  • If you’re using a frozen ham bone or ham meat from baked ham leftovers, they do not need to be defrosted before use.
  • If using a smoked ham hock, score the skin a bit to help render out fat (and flavor).
  • Nearly any type of bread can be used for the toast croutons. I do not suggest breads with any type of sweetness, such as cinnamon raisin bread.
  • With the high salt content of the ham, this soup did not need any additional salt. But, of course, you can always salt to taste.
  • Add more liquid (water or broth) if the soup becomes too thick.
  • The soup can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Consider making a large batch and portioning it into containers to enjoy down the road! Reheat it slowly over medium low heat while stirring, adding additional broth or water if needed.
 
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
If you try this recipe, please share a photo on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK and tag it @MangiaWithMichele and #MangiaWithMichele. I’d love to see it!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

5 thoughts on “Split Pea and Ham Soup with Potatoes

  1. 5 stars
    Hard to find a good Split Pea /Ham Soup & I finally found it! This is the first recipe I tried from Michele’s Collection. Making a triple batch to share with my neighbors.

    1. I’m so happy that you found and love this split pea soup recipe, Roe! Thanks for your comment.

  2. I am looking forward to making this soup with my leftover Easter ham.

    1. 5 stars
      I made this soup and it’s so delicious! I used the left over ham bone from Easter. The dill and lemon juice really add so much flavor (do not skip the dill!).

  3. 5 stars
    I made this recipe and added the dill and lemon juice and they really made a difference! The croutons are my new go to and appreciate the clear instructions. Will definitely make again.

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