Split Pea Soup With Ham

This meaty, hearty, starchy soup might just be the coziest dish you can make.

Split Pea Soup in a white bowl

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 25 mins

There are times when a light, brothy soup hits the spot, and then there are times when you crave something thick, creamy, and hearty—with a stick-to-your-ribs sort of satisfaction. This soup falls into the latter camp, and boy does it do so deliciously.

Dried green split peas simmer until they break down and get creamy, lending their slightly sweet, faintly earthy flavor to the whole pot. Speaking of flavor, let’s talk about the ham that you’ll use for this soup. We advocate strongly for tasso, the Cajun-spiced ham (see more on tasso below) that will make this split pea soup more boldly flavored and more memorable than other versions you might have had in the past.

On a cold night when you just need something cozy and soul-warming (and lick-the-bowl delicious), this is the soup for you.

Ingredients for Split Pea Soup With Ham

With the exception of one special upgrade ingredient, everything you need to make this soup is likely already in your fridge and pantry.

ingredients for split pea soup in bowls

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

  • Olive oil: This full-flavored oil is great for sweating the onion and celery; you could also use a neutral oil, such as canola, if you’d rather.
  • Aromatics: Onion and celery start the soup off with a savory backbone that underscores the entire pot.
  • Unsalted chicken stock: Yes, please choose unsalted. The ham that you use in the soup might provide all the seasoning you need—and if you start with a stock that’s already pretty salty, your soup will be unbalanced. Remember: You can add, but you can’t subtract.
  • Water: For two reasons, we use a combination of store-bought chicken stock and water. First, “cutting” the stock with some water prevents the soup from tasting too much like chicken. Also, using some water means that you only have to purchase one carton of stock.
  • Carrots: We like coarsely chopped chunks of carrots for this soup. The larger pieces won’t cook down to mush; they’ll get tender while still retaining a little more presence (and pretty color).
  • Dried green split peas: You’ll find these with all the other dried beans at the grocery store. You’ll sometimes see yellow split peas, but you should choose green ones for this recipe. Unlike many other types of dried beans, split peas cook relatively quickly (in about an hour) without having to be soaked first.
  • Tasso ham: This is the special ingredient upgrade that will take this pot of split pea soup to a whole other level. Used in Cajun cuisine, tasso ham is made from pork shoulder (unlike traditional ham, which comes from the leg), is smoked, and is highly seasoned with spices. You can find it at Cajun and Creole markets, or you can order it online from CajunGrocer or Amazon. It lends incomparable flavor depth to the soup. See below for tasso substitutes.
  • Herbs: We lean on dried bay leaves and fresh thyme sprigs for rich, woodsy flavor. There is no need to spend time stripping the leaves off the thyme sprigs. Save yourself the time and effort, and just toss the sprigs into the pot. As the soup simmers, the leaves will end up detaching, and you can simply lift out and discard the bare “sticks.”

How To Make Split Pea Soup with Ham

This soup is incredibly easy to make. It ends up with a creamy, almost pureed texture—and you don’t have to do any pureeing.

The process starts by cooking some onion and celery in a little olive oil in a Dutch oven; you’ll want to cook over medium heat so the veggies reach a softened state without browning or burning. You’ll then stir in chicken stock, water, carrots, split peas, ham, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves, and bring the mixture to a boil. Then you’ll reduce the heat to keep the soup at a simmer and cook it, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

split pea soups ingredients simering

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

At that point, you’ll pull out the ham and place it on a cutting board to allow it to cool slightly so that it’s easier to handle.

Continue simmering the soup for at least another 15 minutes, at which point the split peas will have cooked to a very tender texture, breaking down a bit and thickening the soup.

When the ham is cooled off, you can then shred it into small pieces, setting aside any big chunks of fat or gristle to discard. You’ll stir the shredded ham into the soup, along with some freshly ground black pepper (stirring the pepper in at the end helps preserve its pungent bite). After the ham is incorporated, give the soup a taste and see if it needs any additional salt. Depending on the ham you used, it may or may not. 

split pea soup with ham in a white dutch oven overhead

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

What To Substitute for Tasso

If you’d rather not seek out tasso (which we promise is well worth the effort), you can get a soup that’s almost as savory and rich by using a ¾-pound ham steak that you’ve cut into a few large pieces, plus a smoked ham hock. The ham hock will add more smoky flavor to replace what you’ll be missing without the tasso. If you’d like, you can shred the meat from the ham hock (there won’t be all that much) and stir it into the soup, along with the shredded ham steak. 

How To Store and Reheat Split Pea Soup With Ham

If you’d like to make this soup ahead of time, or if you have leftovers, you will need to allow the soup to cool to room temperature before packing it up for the fridge. Pack it into an airtight storage container, and refrigerate it for up to three days. The soup will thicken considerably after being stored, so you’ll need to add water or chicken stock to loosen it up when you reheat it. For best results, reheat in a Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat, stirring in a little extra liquid as you go.

Split Pea Soup With Ham

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion

  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced celery

  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock

  • 2 1/2 cups water

  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrots

  • 1 lb. dried green split peas, rinsed and drained

  • 1 lb. tasso ham (in large chunks)

  • 3 large thyme sprigs

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • Kosher salt to taste


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium. Add onion and celery; cook until softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    onion and celery in dutch oven with steam rising

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

    Stir in stock, water, carrots, split peas, ham, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to the level needed to maintain a simmer; simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    ingredients for split pea soup in white dutch oven

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

  2. Remove ham from pot and place it on a cutting board to cool slightly. Continue simmering soup until peas are very tender and start to break down, thickening the soup, about 15 minutes. If soup gets too thick, add more water, ¼ cup at a time.

    soup simering in a white dutch oven

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

    Shred ham with 2 forks; discard big chunks of fat or gristle. Stir shredded ham and black pepper into soup. Stir in salt to taste if needed.

    salt and pepper on top of soup in white dutch oven

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

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