Split Pea Soup for a Winter's Day

By • March 16, 2011 29 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a straight up, classic, green split pea soup with a good, meaty smoked ham hock I got at the farmers market. It is one of the first things I remember learning to cook as a child. I crave it every winter. My grandfather was known for his soups, and made a great one, and so did my mom. I bet yours did too.

Photo of finished soup courtesy of 101 Cookbooks. All other photos are mine. - Burnt Offerings
Burnt Offerings

Food52 Review: WHO: Burnt Offerings is a healthcare consultant living in Baltimore.
WHAT: A rich, smoky soup to scare away the coldest of days.
HOW: Sauté your onions, carrots, and celery; add your aromatics, peas, and ham hocks; simmer it all with stock; garnish with pepper and smoked paprika.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Burnt Offerings' attention to detail is what makes this soup really shine; the onions, carrots, and celery have time to caramelize, giving it a rich depth that many soups lack. We love the addition of smoked paprika at the end, which amplifies the smoky ham hocks without overwhelming the bowl. We'll be making this for many winters to come.
The Editors

Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig each of fresh: rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 pound dried, green split peas, rinsed and picked over for stones.
  • One 2-pound smoked ham hock
  • 3 quarts homemade chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper and smoked paprika to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a deep stock pot and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté until soft, about 12 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Make a bouquet garni using the fresh herbs and peppercorns. Tie tightly and place into pot.
  4. Pour the peas into the pot, and nestle the ham hock on top.
  5. Pour in the stock, add salt, and bring it to boil.
  6. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and gently simmer for 2 1/2 hours, skimming foam from the top and stirring occasionally.
  7. After simmering, remove ham hock from soup and cool. Remove bouquet garni and discard.
  8. Chop up the ham hock and return to pot.
  9. Season soup with more salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper and some smoked paprika to taste.
  10. Serve piping hot with crusty bread or oyster crackers. Garnish with a drizzle of your best olive oil and some crumbled bacon.

More Great Recipes: Entrees|Soups|Beans & Legumes|Pork|Ribs

Topics: Soups

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Comments (29) Questions (2)


7 months ago Mrs. Toad

Loved this soup! It is so simple and even though I didn't all the proper ingredients, it turned out great. Some tips if you're like me and don't have fresh herbs or smoked ham hock on hand: Because I didn't have fresh herbs, I used about 1/2 tsp. of the dried herbs identified in this recipe and placed them in a metal tea leaf ball and threw it in the pot when the bouquet garni was called for. Worked great. Also, I used bacon. I used a pound -- too much! Use a half-pound, as suggested by Burnt Offerings and be sure to slice it into pieces no larger than 1". I cooked the bacon in the stock pot and then used the bacon grease in lieu of the olive oil when I cooked the vegetables. I threw the cooked bacon into the soup at the very end of the process, rather than just sprinkling on top. Your choice. It made the bacon sort of limp when it came to eatin it, but that's what you get in pork 'n beans so I didn't sweat it. Also, I made this the night before and ate it the next day so that the soup would thicken.

Really, really delicious. This morning I bought a ham hock at the farmers market and I'll make it the proper way. Can't wait to see how it turns out!


8 months ago Burf

This is great! 3 quarts of stock does make a thin soup, but I wouldn't change a thing.


8 months ago Burnt Offerings

I used three quarts for 2 reasons: (1) I had a large ham hock and wanted to submerge it; and (2) this thickens considerably once it's cooled, and I end up having to add more stock on the second or third day. Like most soups or stews, it's better on day 2 or 3.


8 months ago keg72

This is a terrific soup! The ham flavor really permeates every bite!


8 months ago glammie

3 quarts of stock is far too much. I'd do it again, but with only 2.


8 months ago LeeLeeBee

This recipe was fabulous. I adapted it for my slow cooker - I reduced the amount of stock to 8 cups (2 quarts) and cooked it on low for 10 hours.


8 months ago Vanessa Riccio

can I make this in a slow cooker


10 months ago TriBeCa

How do you think this would work with no Ham hock. I am not opposed to it just want to make with no meat?


over 1 year ago froggie

perfect perfect perfect. just made a pot today, burnt. wonderfully chasing away the last of the gray snow. love the lil hint of paprika w/ the ham. "-)


over 1 year ago Bogre

Congratulations on the win! I can't wait to make this.


almost 2 years ago thegreatpumpkin

This looks like an amazing recipe. What's your method for making chicken stock?


almost 2 years ago Burnt Offerings

There are lots of terrific chicken stock recipes here on Food52 - look around! I usually put a chicken carcasss, or so some roasted wings, backs, and necks in a large stock pot with an onion (halved), 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, a couple cloves of garlic (optional), about 8-10 peppercorns, and sprigs of thyme and parsley. Cover with 10 cups of cold water, and bring to a bare simmer (the water should barely burble), for at least 2 hours, and up to 4. Cool, remove the solids, and refrigerate. Once it's chilled, skim off the fat, reheat, strain through cheesecloth, and use it, or freeze it.


almost 2 years ago ellenl

This sounds wonderful. You may be interested in oui, chef's (Steve Dunn's) adaptation of Thomas Keller's split pea soup from Ad Hoc. I love split pea soup and he (Steve) is right, that after making this I have never looked back!


over 2 years ago ontilt

Made this last weekend and it was absolutely delicious. The herb aroma filling the kitchen as the soup stews is a nice precursor to the hearty and full flavor. Got some family raves as it was taken for lunch in the days after too. Thanks!


over 2 years ago Burnt Offerings

So happy you liked it! I sometimes have to thin it out with broth or water after a day or two - it gets thick. But so yummy! Bake, or have a loaf of fresh bread ready - so good together.


almost 3 years ago steffiweffi

My sister just made this and it was the most amazing soup ever! I would not change a thing!


almost 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

Aww - thanks! My grandfather would be so happy!


almost 3 years ago Muse

Would using a ham steak work with this recipe?


almost 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

Absolutely! Just chop it up and add it in about an hour before the soup is done.


over 3 years ago ellebarr

My husband's family is Dutch and they had Split pea soup they called Ercha soup later found out it is spelled Ertensoep (little earth soup) and made it on Christmas eve every year. This is to celebrate the winter solstice not only because it is delicious winter comfort food but because the split peas signify the earth coming back to green after the long winter. I love the pagan tradition this represents. I have been making spit pea soup in all varieties, vegetarian or with bacon, sausage, pancetta, ham etc.... for years and especially on the solstice or Christmas eve.

You can certainly enjoy Split pea soup without meat easily as it does not need a smokey flavor to be delicious. When I was learning to cook I was a vegetarian and followed recipes from the Moosewood cook book which called for a dash of vinegar at the end of the cooking time.


over 3 years ago Golab

Am dying to try this recipe, but I'm a vegetarian! :-\ Is there anything I substitute for the hamhock?


over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

It's equally delicious without the ham hock, but if you want a smoky flavor you could add some smoked tofu, or a few drops of Liquid Smoke. If you eat fish - smoked salmon is an awesome substitute. Just add it at the end when you serve it.


over 3 years ago ReinaDelAjo

This sounds delicious! But I wonder, if ham hocks are not available, could I use smoked bacon? If so how much?


over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

If smoked ham hocks are not available, I would use a package of pancetta, or a half pound of good bacon cut into lardons, and render it until crispy. Remove from the bacon / pancetta from the pot, omit the olive oil, and just saute the veggies in the bacon / pancetta fat. I would buy some good smoked ham if you can find some and dice it up and toss it in. Sprinkle the bacon crumbles on top.


over 3 years ago katylua

Made this tonight with a ham bone I had been saving in the freezer for just such an occasion. Great soup! The only change I should have made was to wait until the end to add salt. The ham on the bone I used must have been extra salty, and I used a little bacon grease from breakfast to saute the veggies. The end product was good but salty. I'll def. make this recipe again.


over 3 years ago Adelucchi

Split pea soup has always been a favorite of mine except when I made it! This time it was delicious and gave that comforting taste that I enjoy. Thanks for sharing. I made it for our band practice and the minute they all enjoyed it greatly. I believe the long cooking time made the difference.


over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

The long cooking time essentially means you don't have to puree it, and I like it a little on the thick and chunky side. So glad you all liked it!


almost 4 years ago Burnt Offerings

Yep, you did it exactly right then! So glad you enjoyed it. Super simple, super cheap, so hearty and delicious. I usually need to thin mine out with stock after the first day or so. It freezes beautifully if you start to get tired of it.