This Easy Split Pea Soup with Ham is a hearty and delicious soup that has been a beloved favorite for generations. A classic comfort food that is prepared simply with split peas, a few veggies, and ham (which you can leave out for a vegetarian version), it’s a perfectly nourishing yet flavorful meal. And because it’s made with such simple ingredients, it’s budget-friendly, too! And if you love simple and delicious homemade soup, also check out my recipe for Stuffed Cabbage Soup.
I love this easy split pea soup with ham recipe. I eat it year-round, but I especially love it on a cold day when I’m craving a soup that will fill and warm my belly. And this is a thick soup, not a light and brothy soup, so it can act as a meal all on its own. I like to serve it with a crusty roll, or a slice of buttered bread.
And if you’re unsure about what split peas are, they are just regular peas that have been dried and split in half. They come in both green and yellow varieties, but I tend to use the green type because I think the green peas are a bit sweeter. But of course, you choose what you like in your soup.
A bit of the history of Split Pea Soup:
Did you know that peas are one of the oldest cultivated crops? They’ve been grown for thousands of years originating in places like Turkey and Egypt, before spreading throughout the world. At some point, people began to dry and split the peas for longer storage. Hence, the name split peas.
And split peas were a staple in Early America, even being provided as a component of soldiers’ rations in the American Revolutionary War. They found their way into various regional American cuisines, especially in the northeastern and midwestern United States where split pea soup became a popular dish. And it’s no wonder because split peas are economical, nutritious, and filling. I bet most of our grandmas made plenty of a pot of split pea soup back in the day.
To this day, split pea soup remains popular with the most common version being the familiar ham and split pea soup, like the recipe I’m giving you here. But there are many ways to make split pea soup, and many cultures and cuisines have their own versions of the soup using different vegetables, spices, and meat (or even going meatless).
Let’s talk about the ingredients for Easy Split Pea Soup:
Split Peas – You can use green or yellow split peas. The flavors are very similar, but I find the taste of the green peas to be a little sweeter. Other folks prefer the yellow. So go ahead and use whatever you like or whatever you have on hand.
Ham – You can use leftover ham, or purchase diced ham at the store. I’ve also used chopped deli ham and ham steaks with success. And if you happen to have a leftover ham bone, you can use that, too. Simmer it in the soup until the ham starts to fall off the bone, then pick off the ham and add it to the soup (discarding the bone). For a vegetarian soup, omit the ham. You can add a little bit of liquid smoke to replace the smoky ham flavor if you like.
Onion – Any type of onion will do. I typically use a yellow onion or sweet onion like Vidalia.
Garlic – A few cloves of minced garlic. If you don’t have fresh garlic, use granulated garlic to taste or omit it (but it’s better with garlic!)
Carrots – Regular carrots are all you need for this recipe.
Chicken Broth – You can use plain water to make split pea soup, but I think the chicken broth gives it so much more flavor. For a vegetarian soup, use vegetable broth.
Dried Oregano and Dried Thyme – These are the herbs I like to use in my soup, and I prefer the taste of dried herbs for this recipe. If you don’t have thyme and oregano on hand, you can substitute Italian seasoning.
Tips for Making the Easy Split Pea Soup:
And you may be wondering, do split peas need to be soaked? The answer to that is no. Unlike dried beans, split peas do not need to be soaked before using them in your soup. They are small enough that, like lentils, they cook fairly quickly and can be cooked right in the soup without soaking beforehand. You do, however, need to pick through the peas and remove any debris. And you’ll want to give them a rinse, too.
Keep in mind that split peas take up a lot of liquid and make a very thick soup. So when you are cooking your soup, it will look thin and brothy at first. But don’t let that fool you because your soup will thicken as it cools down. If you reduce the liquid too much, it will likely thicken into a mixture resembling something like concrete as it cools. If that happens, don’t fret! Just add a little water to the soup to thin it down to your liking. And if you refrigerate and want to reheat your soup, you will likely need to add some extra liquid at that point, too.
Use a flavorful chicken or vegetable broth. While you technically can use water to make your soup, I prefer to use a flavorful broth or stock, or even water and a stock cube. Split peas are very mild and can use the added flavor of broth. However, if you are using salted broth, hold off on adding extra salt until the soup is finished cooking. With the combination of ham and salty broth, I often don’t need to add extra salt at all.
Change up the seasonings to your preference. I typically like thyme, oregano, and bay leaf, or an Italian seasoning blend in my soup. But I do like to change up the seasonings on occasion. Smoked paprika makes a nice addition. Curry powder and cumin make a nice curry-inspired soup. Or try any of your favorite herbs or herb blends like marjoram, rosemary, or Herbs de Provence.
How to Store Split Pea Soup:
Store split pea soup for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Or store for 3 months in an airtight container in the freezer.
So if you’re looking for a tasty, hearty, and frugal meal, I hope you’ll try this Easy Split Soup. It’s guaranteed to please and make hungry bellies happy!
If you try this Easy Split Pea Soup with Ham Recipe, I hope you love it. And follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram so you don’t miss a post.
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