I’ve made a lot of soup over the years, but I think my last batch of split pea soup was the best ever! This is a super-simple soup with only a few basic ingredients, but they combine for a hearty meal that can stand alone or pair with a grilled cheese sandwich.
Because this soup uses inexpensive ingredients you probably have on hand, it’s easy on the budget. We like to buy a ham every once in awhile, slice it up for dinner, make deviled ham sandwiches, and then use the bone in soups and beans. This way, you can spend $9 on a ham and have several meals out of it. Plus, you can reuse the hambone for another batch of soup or beans the next day and then freeze the leftovers (which is exactly what I did). If you don’t have a hambone, though, you can use ham hocks or bacon.
Usually, split pea soup is made with green peas, but I found a bag of yellow peas and just had to try them. I think the flavor was a bit milder than green peas—it was certainly delicious! Feel free to use whatever split pea you would like with this recipe.
The directions on the bag of peas will have you soak the peas overnight in cold water and then cook the peas for about an hour. I’ve tried this a couple times and found that the peas were still crunchy after an hour, even after soaking them. It took nearly three hours to cook the peas to the consistency I wanted. I don’t know if I had an old batch of peas or if some folks like theirs on the crunchy side, but I suggest you set aside plenty of time to make sure you get the soup to the consistency you want.
Speaking of consistency, I was prepared to use an immersion blender to blend some of the peas and thicken the soup, but after three hours of cooking, the soup was the perfect consistency. So wait to use your immersion blender until the end because you may not need it.
As for the pot, I recommend either a bare cast-iron Dutch oven or an enameled Dutch oven, about 6-7 quarts. I used bare cast iron because it can add an earthy (iron-y) taste to food that complements beans and peas. Although peas are not acidic, they will be cooking for awhile, so if you use bare cast iron, plan on doing a deep seasoning in the oven after you clean out the pot. Check out my book, Modern Cast Iron, for more details on light and deep seasoning techniques for cast-iron cookware.
Okay, here’s that super-easy recipe I promised you:
Split Pea Soup
- Large Dutch Oven
- 1 14 oz bag dried split peas
- 1 hambone
- 1 32 oz carton chicken broth
- seasoning to taste (Cavender's Greek Seasoning, Nature's Seasons by Morton, garlic powder)
- 2-3 carrots peeled and cut
- ½ sweet onion chopped
- 1-2 celery stalks chopped, (optional)
- 1 small potato peeled and chopped (optional)
- Soak peas overnight in cold water. Then drain the peas.
- Place Dutch oven on medium heat. Add the hambone and heat it for a couple minutes.
- Add peas to the Dutch oven and pour in chicken broth until peas are covered. (It's alright if the hambone sticks out of the broth a bit.)
- Bring the peas to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
- Add seasoning and cook peas until they soften, anywhere from 1-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Carefully remove the hambone from the peas. Cut off small pieces of ham (if there is any) and add them back to the peas.
- Add vegetables to the pot and cook until the vegetables are done.
- Serve hot with bread or a sandwich. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.