Classic Split Pea Soup

by jenna on September 6, 2011

So, a couple things.

First of all, split pea soup just isn’t photogenic. Never was, never will be. I was going to try to photoshop the situation but then I thought you guys would understand. Split pea soup is probably the best tasting ugly food there is. And if someone out there knows how to make thick green soup pretty, come find me. I’ll gladly give you a bowl.

Secondly, we took a mini-cation (very short vacation) this weekend to the Mendocino Coast. It was cold, foggy and wonderful…and I took about 200 photos! I can’t wait to share them with you.

But let’s get back to the soup! Don’t judge but these photos because I promise you it’s the best split pea soup you’ll ever try. And it’s a cinch to make!

So yeah…you’re gonna need a ham hock. Yeah..yeah…just do it.

This definitely isn’t a vegetarian split pea soup recipe and I really don’t recommend trying to make it one. If you want a great vegan split pea soup recipe, try this one by 101 cookbooks!

But for the love of pigs and peas, get yourself down to the store and get a big ol’ hock.

The ham hock not only gives the soup a great smoky flavor, but after it’s cooked you actually shred the meat into the soup for optimal deliciousness.

My mom, who hates soup (weird, I know), loves this soup! She brought me frozen tupperwares of it once in college and I survived my mid-terms purely on peas.

It was awesome.

What I love the most though is how you literally just dump everything in a large pot, cover it with water and simmer until done. There’s no added steps or special culinary techniques involved. I actually started making this in the pot you see above and once it started simmering I transferred it to my crock pot to cook on high for a couple hours so I could go to a yoga class. It turned out perfect and I’ve been eating it for days.

You guys are going to LOVE this soup! Promise.

Classic Split Pea Soup

serves 6

Print this recipe!


1 1/2 large yellow onions, diced

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 16-oz bag green split peas

2 ham hocks (they usually come in packs of two)

8 cups water


Combine all ingredients in a very large pot. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer for two hours.

After two hours, remove ham hocks carefully from soup and cut meat off the bone. Place meat back in soup and discard hocks.

Bring soup back to a boil and cook on medium/high heat for another 30-45 minutes until desired thickness. I like my pea soup really thick so I boil the heck out of it!

Season to taste.


3 hours



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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance September 6, 2011 at 4:38 am

Yas. Are those Mary’s Crackers I spot?


Molly @ RDexposed September 6, 2011 at 4:48 am

A few things: I’m not crazy about pea soup, can this change my mind? I’m with your mom on soup but only for gross grocery store shelf soups. I’m not sure if any of your soups could be simpler than your coconut curried sweet potato soup-or better tasting!


katie @KatieDid September 6, 2011 at 4:48 am

I’ve seen uglier food, no worries! Chili that I posted last week was extremely hard to make look appealing. But really, it comes down to the taste of the food. And I bet the smokey flavor is delicious!


Lauren @ What Lauren Likes September 6, 2011 at 4:52 am

Yum! I love splitpea soup! My grandma makes a pretta bomb one whose recipe is similar to this! Can’t wait to see the mini-vacation pics 🙂


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat September 6, 2011 at 4:54 am

Today our high is only 17 degrees C (69 F) , and I can feel my soup cravings starting to kick in already! I agree that split pea soup isn’t the least bit pretty, but it IS delicious!


Khushboo September 6, 2011 at 4:55 am

Hahah the yummiest foods are always the ugliest..Kath might be the only person who can make oatmeal look pretty!


Corey @ Learning Patience September 6, 2011 at 4:56 am

Looking forward to the photos- love vacation pictures!
– I refuse the pig, sorry! But – I beg to differ on the not using pig..I make a killer pea and tarragon soup (pig free) that’s SO good… You’ll have to try it out sometime…

xoxo from Trinidad


Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray September 6, 2011 at 4:58 am

I love split pea soup…such comfort food! My husband calls it “slop,” but likes it too. I completely agree on the ham hock…makes it SO much better!


Jenn September 6, 2011 at 5:04 am

I used to love split pea soup -but only with dumplings 🙂 I’m with your mom though, I’m really not a soup person. Unless it’s thick so more like a stew.


Brenna September 6, 2011 at 5:10 am

My roomie made this once – I was terrified of the ham hocks lingering around the kitchen! But upon tasting I knew I had to get over my fears…delish!


Kathryn September 6, 2011 at 5:12 am

I don’t really like soup that much but I think this could win me over too. Love the combination of flavours.


Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} September 6, 2011 at 5:13 am

I love split pea soup, too. I always make it without the pig, though, and it’s just as delicious. 🙂


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga September 6, 2011 at 5:13 am

I have posted before about how comfort foods, i.e. mac n cheese, mashed potatoes with gravy, soups, chilis, certain foods with lots of beans or lentils…how it’s REALLY hard to photograph. In some of the photography workshops Ive attended, this is addressed (to a point)

I think your soup looks awesome! Great job!


Sarah Jane MacMillan September 6, 2011 at 5:13 am

Can’t wait to see the Mendo photos! I went there once and it is absolutely breathtaking!

The soup looks good…now I just have to figure out how to say ham hock in Italian at the butcher…*sigh*


Katrina September 6, 2011 at 5:14 am

I’ve always loved this soup. Reminds me of home 🙂


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen September 6, 2011 at 5:18 am

Sometimes the ugliest foods are the best ones! I made a casserole of sorts over the weekend that was delicious but hideous.


Cassie @ Back to Her Roots September 6, 2011 at 5:29 am

Ha! I had this same problem this weekend. I made Ham ‘n’ Beans. A bowl of ham chunks and pale beans is just not photogenic. But SO delicious that I couldn’t leave it off the blog.

I’ve never had split pea soup! Must try. Especially considering it dropped 50° in the Midwest over the weekend and I am now FREEZING. Brrrrrrrr.


kaila @ healthy helper! September 6, 2011 at 5:32 am

I love split pea soup! So creamy and smooth…..such comfort food right there!


amy walters, aDESIGNdock September 6, 2011 at 5:37 am

Yum! I love homemade soup 🙂 And I love peas…and ham. This looks like the perfect match.


Lauren at Keep It Sweet September 6, 2011 at 5:37 am

Once the cold weather starts I’m pretty much addicted to split pea soup. For some reason I’ve been afraid of the ham hock but that needs to stop!


Bev Weidner September 6, 2011 at 5:44 am

Photogenic or not, the little words “split” and “pea” make me giggle. In a good way.


rebecca September 6, 2011 at 5:55 am

I agree – some things are NOT meant to be vegetarian.


Caroline @ chocolate and carrots September 6, 2011 at 6:22 am

Mmm…Southern classic. 🙂


Diana @ frontyardfoodie September 6, 2011 at 6:22 am

I have always loved split pea soup. I came from a big family with six siblings and I swear my mom made that split pea soup for me and my dad because no one else liked it but we liked it so much it made it worth it. We’d shower her with compliments, beg for it more often and even bribe her. She made it in the crock pot and dad and I would get giddy when she’d start pouring those green jewels into a bowl of water to soak the night before.


Shut Up and Run September 6, 2011 at 6:28 am

Okay, you have officially talked me into making this ugly soup. A couple of years ago my mom gave me a bunch of split pea soup in a tupperware that was not closed tight. It spilled all over my car. Only thing uglier than a bowl of split pea soup is a ton of it laying on the floor mats of your car.


Maria September 6, 2011 at 6:40 am

No matter how unphotogenic split pea soup may be, it is still so delicious!!!


Bruna September 6, 2011 at 6:47 am

I actually use a pressure cook to make pea soup. It only take 10 min 🙂 and I use Kiabasa sausage…. Hummmm


Barb September 6, 2011 at 6:50 am

I have never made this soup but I really want to try after seeing how easy it is! I have two questions though, do you need to rinse or soak the peas first? and do you need to use and emmulsifier to get is smooth(before you add the ham back in)?


Cait's Plate September 6, 2011 at 6:55 am

Haha – I think you did a pretty good job considering the item you were working with – looks pretty delicious to me and I don’t even really like split pea soup!


Liz @ IHeartVegetables September 6, 2011 at 7:24 am

I loooove split pea soup, but I always make a vegetarian version 🙂


Hilliary@HappilyEverHealthy September 6, 2011 at 7:34 am

Yum! This looks great, I have been craving soup since the weather here in Minnesota is getting a bit chilly!


Jen September 6, 2011 at 7:38 am

I’ve always loved split pea soup! I don’t care how ugly it is, because there aren’t many things more comforting than a steaming bowl of split pea soup. But I’m not gonna lie, ever since I went to culinary school, I’ve kind of been afraid of ham hock.


Liz September 6, 2011 at 8:01 am

I love split pea soup…and you have to use the ham hock! My grandma loved to use ham hocks for lots of things, but my favorites were this, ham & bean soup, and cooked cabbage with the ham hock, carrots and potatoes. 🙂


Sally Anne @ PaleoRunnerGirl September 6, 2011 at 8:06 am

Oh, Split Pea Soup is the BEST. Seriously, I think it is my #1 comfort food! It is so satisfying and amazing!

I miss legumes…. 🙁


kathleen @ the daily crumb September 6, 2011 at 8:15 am

my husband doesn’t like soup either (weirdo!) maybe he’ll like this one, though, just like your mom 🙂 looks delicious!


kerry Mcgee September 6, 2011 at 8:20 am

Have you already explained the “brick wall” in the bedroom? I’m dyin’ to know.

excited to see your vacation pictures! 🙂


deva (voracious vorilee) September 6, 2011 at 8:23 am

this recipe came at the best time – it went from temperatures in the triple-digits to the sixties almost overnight here, and I am craving a hearty, thick, warm soup. I will have to add this one to my list to try!


meagan September 6, 2011 at 8:34 am

There isn’t anything that can’t be improved by pork (double negatives, anyone?). I can’t wait till it cools off some more to try this soup!


Cat @Breakfast to Bed September 6, 2011 at 8:37 am

I love dill and creme fraiche on split pea soup!! I agree with the ham as well. Makes it better!


Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries September 6, 2011 at 8:54 am

Oh yes, I love a good ol’ bowl of split pea soup…ugly and all. 🙂 This does look so easy! I’m definitely giving it a go!


Leslie Means Her View From Home September 6, 2011 at 9:01 am

Love it! Thank you for sharing this one. I’ve always wanted to try split pea soup but just haven’t. This is especially great for busy moms! I even think my three year old will eat it as she loves peas! I’ll keep you posted.


Leanne September 6, 2011 at 9:14 am

I LOVE this soup and my recipe is very similar to yours. I have been known to use chicken stock instead of the ham hocks and water, but I agree that ham hocks are the way to go. I always add some Worcestershire sauce just for more smokey flavor. I can’t wait until it gets cooler in Texas to try this out again!


Traci September 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

It’s definitely soup weather today! I’ve never had split pea. Maybe I’ll try it!


Liz @ Southern Charm September 6, 2011 at 10:25 am

This looks to die for! And talk about perfect timing … the weather in NoLa is in the 70’s!! Perfect fall style soup weather.


Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove September 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

This looks pretty good! I love that you can just throw everything into a pot and just let it simmer. We just got a dutch oven so I’m dying to find reasons to use it. Your split-pea soup may be one of those reasons – especially with this weather (so gross and rainy)!!


Sarah @ Sarah's Modern Bites September 6, 2011 at 11:31 am

Love that you posted this recipe! I totally caught my boyfriend eating split pa soup from the can last week because he was too lazy to heat it up!? hahaha it was hilarious…. but I think he would appreciate this. Only thing is… I don;t eat pork. I’m not a vegetarian but is there a way to make this just as delicious without pork… is there a possible substitute? I mean… I would make it for Andrew, my boyfriend, but prefer to make things we can share 😀


mary @ what's cookin with mary September 6, 2011 at 11:46 am

This is def a bowl of goodness that would be hella hard to make look pretty. I mean, it’s green and kinda looks like barf. Not easy!

I’ve always wanted to make my own split pea soup (I’ve been making the 17 bean medley from TJ’s)… Need to put that on the menu when it cools off a bit. Hello 90*’s hahah.


Nicole @ Giraffelegs September 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm

ugh this reminds me of home! My mom makes the best split pea soup with ham hocks…sounds gross but it’s soo goood


Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes September 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm

This is perfect for the autumn…yum!


Kate September 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm

this sounds great !!


Becky @ Fit Chick on the Fly September 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm

You are absolutely right, split pea looks disgusting but it’s sooooo delicious! My dad makes an amzing split pea that I try to replicate and never works out to be as good.


Lisa {With Style and Grace} September 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Love split pea soup – gets me excited for fall! Are those mary’s gone gluten-free crackers I spy… 😉


Ashley Lewis September 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I can totally relate to your mom I am not a soup fan but I love split pea soup (but only the vegan kind and I’m not vegan).


Jil @ Big City, Lil' Kitchen September 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Agreed – it may not be photogenic but it is deeeliicious. This sounds so much like my mom’s split pea soup. It’s always my go-to cold weather soup.


Happy When Not Hungry September 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm

This soup looks amazing and perfect for this rainy weather!


Penny September 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I LOVE split pea soup! I have a vegan version here: (though I regretably forgot to add celery)


Kelsey @ aslolife September 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Looks delish–love me some split pea soup! It’s hot this week though, I think I’ll have to wait a bit longer before I start making soup every weekend!


Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen September 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm

So ugly, yet so good! And the ham hock thing is a total must. Just a must.


Kelsey September 20, 2011 at 6:12 am

Split pea is one of my all-time favorite soups. My boyfriend hates peas and anything to do with peas, so I never make it myself. Luckily, I found myself some foodie roomies this year 😉 I’ll have to give this a go!


Shelley November 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

I just wanted you to know that I made this soup yesterday, and it turned out so ridiculously good, I honestly couldn’t believe I actually made it lol. And it was SO EASY! Thank you for this great recipe, I cant wait to try more of them!


Noelle December 1, 2011 at 6:02 am

Hey there,

I’m making this soup tonight. Can’t wait! Was wondering if you would recommend broth over water if I have it, or is that too much? Email me if you can. I can smell it already!


Chestnut Farm December 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Made your Split Pea Soup today on a rainy PA afternoon! It was absolutely incredible. I actually saved the ham bone from Christmas dinner and used that and the stock leftover from cooking the ham in combination with the water! It was devine!!!! Will make over and over! Thanks so much for the recipe! 😀


Deb R. September 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Let me just say WOW! I made this tonight for the fam, and it is a big hit! My9 and 6 year old both love it, and the hubs had two bowls!

Our local grocery sells smoked ham hocks in packs of 4. So, unless you’ve got another recipe that rocks the hocks, they’re in the freezer until I make this soup again. Which will most likely be next month. Yum! 🙂


Jodi January 3, 2013 at 9:25 am

I was googling info on paleo/split pea soup and came upon this post. I had some leftover soup made before we decided to go paleo (not very strict, but working on it). Anyway, I added a spoon of coconut oil to the bowl, and couldn’t believe how silky and delicious it was. (Husband loved it too). I also made this batch with a smoked ham hock, since I didn’t have a bone. To finish it I first remove some of the carrots, use the immersion blender, and then add the rest of the carrots back, roughly chopped. I’ll definitely be making more very soon.


Stephany April 24, 2013 at 7:55 am

This pea soup will change your life everyone! Just make it. Get over the horrible disgustingness of a raw ham hock and do it. Totes worth the initial gag factor because what you end up with is a giant green pot of heaven


Olli May 8, 2013 at 8:12 am

Nice recipe! It took me back to my childhood …
I modified it slightly, coming from a French cuisine background — I sauteed the vegetables first slightly in duck fat (about 2 tbsp), so they beome a bit transparent. Then I added 3 bay leaves, 4 cups of chicken stock (homemade), and 2 cups of Evian (just kidding … 2 cups of water). The rest I did as in your recipe.
Great taste, ideal lunch, healthy, at least in my non-zealous Paleo-book.
Thanks for posting!


Hawley January 7, 2014 at 10:31 am

Ha! You totally caught me, checking it out to see if I could vegan-ize it 😉 Glad you gave me the heads up AND recommended a good vegan resource! Thanks, boo! Well done and so thoughtful! xo


Michelle Hull March 28, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Hi Jenna,
I’m a late comer to your blog. I looked thru your recipes and found the Split pea Soup. OMG! Awesome. i love it. i had tried a different recipe and it was ok. Nothing great. I tried your’s and I LOVE IT! Thank you. I have made this a couple of times and will be making it again. THANK YOU! Can’t say that enough. I love Split Pea Soup.


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