Split Pea Soup with Ham

Split Pea Soup with Ham

Let’s be honest, posting appetizing photos of split pea soup is the Great Barrier Reef of food blogging. The big question is “how am I going to navigate my way through a photo shoot and make this soup look awesome enough for people to want eat and not make them want to hurl?”

Green is a great color for salads or for adding a finishing touch to many dishes. A judicious use of green in such dishes such as Pozole Rojo or Red Pepper Pesto Over Angel Hair Pasta makes the photographic presentation rock. But, somehow the green of Split Pea Soup doesn’t work very well. Split pea green looks beautiful as an accent color in decorating, like with a throw pillow or even as a paint color. However, you don’t generally hear someone say, “Wow! That reminds me of split pea soup! I’m gonna make some for dinner tonight!”. Nope. It just doesn’t happen.

Love, though, can give a food blogger boundless courage in certain posts. As I mentioned in my post on 1/2 & 1/2 Whole Wheat French Bread, my husband, John, has been feeling nostalgic lately about the five years he spent in Sweden. His family had a cook who used to make split pea soup from time to time and John loved it. While it is intimidating to come up with a recipe to compete with someone’s memory of a favored food, I welcomed this particular challenge. I’ve been a fan of pea soup since I was little, even the canned stuff. I’ve even made a few pots of green pea soup over the years, but apparently they were not memorable nor comparatively similar to John’s treasured pea soup memories. Hence the increased motivation to a pea soup smack-down.

Split Pea Soup with Ham

The great thing about split peas is that unlike many members of the legume family, peas do not require pre-soaking. Simply toss them in a pot with sufficient water or broth, toss in a few other standard kitchen ingredients, bring everything to a low boil and dinner is ready in under an hour. Life is good!

This soup was wonderfully delicious. John and I kept returning to the soup pot to refill our bowls. Ham hocks brought a favorite smoky flavor, while the peas, vegetable broth and carrots brought unexpected sweetness. The onions and garlic along with the sage and bay leaves added lots of depth. The soup, together with the crusty Whole Wheat French Bread was a great late winter meal.

You want to know what is great about late Winter? It means that early Spring is just around the corner. 🙂

Split Pea Soup with Ham

Split Pea Soup with Ham

Yield: 4-6 quarts, depending on desired thickness of soup

Recipe by Terri @ that's some good cookin


  • 1 pound dry green split peas
  • 8 cups vegetable stock ( May need more depending on desired thickness. Water can also be used, but soup will not have the same depth of flavor as it does with vegetable stock. )
  • 2-4 ham hocks, depending on size
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Rinse peas under cool running water. Check for and remove any debris...if it ain't a pea, you may not want to eat it.
  2. Add the peas, vegetable stock, and ham hocks to a large stock pot. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat, and add the remaining ingredients. Continue to cook for another 25-40 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and the peas have thickened the soup. As the soup begins to thicken, it will have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot, so be sure that the heat is low and stir often. Add a little water or stock to thin the soup, if necessary.
  4. Before serving, remove the ham hocks from the soup and allow to cool. Remove meat from bones and chop into small pieces. Stir into soup.
  5. Garnish as desired for serving.


Split Pea Soup with Ham

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New England-style Clam Chowder
New England-style Clam Chowder
Minestroni Soup
Minestroni Soup
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup



  1. says

    I love split pea soup. What a yummy way to enjoy a cold winter day. It’s hard as a food blogger to take good pictures of this soup… you did it though. Great photos. 🙂

  2. says

    The photos look great! I love split pea. It certainly is a soup I like to eat in the winter. Your recipe doesn’t require much cooking time. I always think it takes too long, but I guess it really doesn’t.

    • says

      Hi Karissa. A ham hock is also known as a ham shank. It is a 2-4 inch section from the shank end of a ham which is removed and sold separately. It is highly flavorful, containing the shank bone, gristle, fat, and a small portion of meat (sounds very paleo). Mostly it is used for flavoring soups, stews and broths. Ham hocks or shanks can be found in the meat department at the grocery store in the same area as other pork products. Often they are located either near the hams or over where the bacon and sausages are sold. There are usually several in a package, depending on their size, and they are an inexpensive way to add a lot of flavor to a meal. If you can’t find them, ask your butcher for help. Here is a link to a great picture of ham hocks (and what looks to be an outstanding recipe!). http://tastyislandhawaii.com/2007/05/28/portuguese-bean-soup/ I will add a picture of ham hocks/shanks to this post in the next day or two. It just so happens that I bought some of them yesterday.

      Thanks for your question. It is a good one. Sometimes I don’t stop and think about the fact that not everyone grew up in an area of the country where a ham hock was as common as a glass of water. 🙂

  3. Eric says

    Hmm….a potato. I’m going to try that. I never can find vegetable stock, does it come in cubes? I like to put a dollop of Fage Greek yogurt on top of my pea soup. Sage is clever. Great blog…I’m totally subscribing!

    • says

      Hi, Eric. At the grocery stores in my area, prepared vegetable stock is located with other stocks such as chicken or beef stock. Vegetable broth is a suitable alternative and may be located somewhere in the soup isle. There are also vegetable bouillon cubes; Knorr or Maggi are reliable brands. There is also a vegetable base from Better Than Bouillon. Although I have not used their vegetable base, I do use several of their other bases regularly and can highly recommend them. As expected, you can purchase almost any of the afore listed products through Amazon. For instance, the Better Than Bouillon vegetable base can be found at this link. Annnnnd if all else fails, just use chicken broth or stock. It works well with pea soup. I like your idea of using Greek yogurt to top your pea soup. It is a nice, tangy, lower fat alternative to sour cream.

      PS, thanks for subscribing! Welcome aboard. ~Terri

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