Make Ahead

Split Pea Soup for a Winter's Day

March 16, 2011
18 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6 to 8
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jaxmccaff
  • Tante
  • Sarah Wells
    Sarah Wells
  • Annie Jones
    Annie Jones
  • Remy the Rat
    Remy the Rat

49 Reviews

Jaxmccaff April 5, 2023
Delicious!! Made this last night and reheated for dinner tonight. Great depth of flavor. I decided to blend mine in my Vitamix at the end and it made a beautiful velvety soup.
Tante December 24, 2021
Dear Burnt,

Your soup sounds like a very upgraded and luxurious version of the good old(fashioned) split pea soup from Holland.
We don’t fry the veg - that would be too French, I guess - and use a whole head of celeriac and a couple of leeks. Next time I think I’ll try yours.
Tara M. May 28, 2021
I have a fresh ham hock rather than a smoked one - how would that change the recipe?
glammie May 28, 2021
Tara M. May 28, 2021
Thanks so much! Looks like I'm making a stock.
glammie May 28, 2021
Or, maybe trying braising the ham hock. Setting the meat aside and cooking the soup with any bone ...? Is there bone in a ham hock? I dunno! *lol*
Tara M. May 29, 2021
Yes there were bones! I ended up making a fairly quick stock first (2hrs), using that as the base for the soup, and then followed this recipe more or less exactly. It worked out really well. 😋
SDL April 17, 2020
Spring 2020 It was lovely and very savory. Made this using remains of an easter ham and mostly dried herbs because of availability. Substituting oregano for marjoram and didn't add paprika. I removed the ham bone and blended the soup base because I have only every had blended pea soup not sure if original intended it be blended? I returned ham cut off the bone and some additional (@4 cups) to sup when finished. Made A LOT of soup, packaged up to share and freeze. Thank you!
Sarah W. December 11, 2019
I made a very similar pea soup recipe. (Same ingredients) I am so disappointed in this recipe. There is so much other stuff I can't even taste the peas. I'll stick with recipe on the bag of split peas.
Annie J. November 22, 2019
I make this soup once a week in the fall/winter. It is an absolute hit with the kids. We like to increase the split peas by half for a thicker soup. It’s a winner!
M. L. January 17, 2019
I really love the flavor of ham hocks or using smoked shanks. It takes quite awhile for them to soften enough so you can discard the skin and bones. I take a crockpot full of them and cook them overnight. Then I remove the ham from the pot , remove the skin/rind and the bones. I shred the meat and return it to the pot. I then divide the ham and broth into freezer containers and use those in the recipes that would work best. You can sauté the vegetables, add the meaty ham broth, spices and peas, then have a great pea soup ready in a fraction of the time.
Remy T. December 17, 2018
Made this yesterday and it is amazing! I used Smoked Ham about 1lb of it and its perfect. I just cubed it and threw it in at the same point in the recipe that the Hock would have gone in. Only addition was mushrooms because...well I love mushrooms!
One note that is a great note this recipe makes a lot of soup!
Rick October 9, 2018
First time I made this it was wonderful. This time I could only find 1.25 lb. of ham shanks ( not hocks) so threw in about 1/2 lb of artisanal tasso that I´ve had waiting for the next pot of gumbo. YUM!!!
But having said that it is awful hard to go wrong on a pot of split pea soup.
Thank you for a wonderful recipe
saramarsh January 7, 2018
This is perfection. I made it to get us through the post shoveling fun after the blizzard and OH.MY.GOD.
It was a little thin to start, but with a touch of cornstarch, and an overnight rest, it was marvelous, even with the sub-in of leftover ham.
I actually made the bouquet garni; my store sells a fresh herb "poultry mix" so I bought that and used dried marjoram in with the fresh herbs. I can't get over the difference in flavor, as I usually just use dried...
I'm gonna make it again today :)
saramarsh January 7, 2018
Additionally, I sauteed the veggies in bacon fat and olive oil, that made a fantastic addition :)
Cathy W. December 30, 2017
I've made this recipe several times now, usually after Easter and Christmas when I serve ham and have leftovers, instead of the ham hock. Like others, I use dried herbs in lieu of fresh, although I did have fresh thyme today. It does seem thin using the three quarts of stock, but it does thicken up. My family loves this soup and whenever I serve ham, they ask if I'm going to make that split pea soup. It definitely is a community pick !
Jasmin R. May 19, 2017
Just made this. Came out perfect with the flavors, but I want to get it smoother next time like in the picture. What I did differently was that I couldn't find ham hock, so I used some diced pork belly and finely chopped high-quality sandwich ham. I cooked both at the beginning with some smoked paprika. Everything else was the same. Wonderful, delicious recipe! Thanks for sharing.
LeeLeeBee January 18, 2016
I love this recipe. When I don't have fresh herbs on hand, I substitute 1 tsp dried for each (usually doubling the rosemary, since that's my favorite).
Mrs. T. January 17, 2015
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!
Burf January 14, 2015
This is great! 3 quarts of stock does make a thin soup, but I wouldn't change a thing.
Burnt O. January 15, 2015
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.
keg72 January 13, 2015
This is a terrific soup! The ham flavor really permeates every bite!
glammie January 11, 2015
3 quarts of stock is far too much. I'd do it again, but with only 2.
LeeLeeBee January 7, 2015
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.
Vanessa R. January 4, 2015
can I make this in a slow cooker
TriBeCa November 6, 2014
How do you think this would work with no Ham hock. I am not opposed to it just want to make with no meat?
Petals December 7, 2018
I made a vegetarian version using veggie stock and spiced it up with sliced tofu hot dogs. Delicious. This recipe is very adaptable.