Old-Fashioned Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 15 min. + standing Cook: 2-1/2 hours
This split pea soup is hearty and soul-warming, just the thing for a cold day.

Updated: Feb. 27, 2024

We love making a big pot of split pea soup during the colder months. Packed with vegetables and protein, the soup is a family favorite and one of our favorite classic homemade soup recipes.

This humble, hearty split pea soup recipe features aromatics like celery, onion and carrot, plus a savory ham bone for flavor. You can easily adapt it to your tastes by adding things like potatoes or dumplings, and it’s a great make-ahead or freezer meal (everyone knows soup tastes better the next day!). Add freshly baked bread, rolls or a nice salad for a complete meal.

Split Pea Soup Ingredients

Ham bone and other vegetables on a wooden tray to make Split Pea Soup TMB Studio

  • Split peas: Dried split peas will double or triple their size once they’re cooked, so a little goes a long way. Like soaking beans, soaking the peas ahead of time will help them cook faster and more evenly. This recipe calls for the quick-boil soak method, but you can also soak them in room-temperature water overnight. Just drain before using.
  • Ham bone: A meaty ham bone serves as the crux of flavor in split pea soup. As the soup cooks, the meat softens and infuses all the good smoky flavor into the soup. You can then pull the meat from the bone and stir it back into the soup. Yup, this is one of those leftover ham recipes that truly uses every scrap! If you don’t have or can’t find a ham bone, try a smoked ham hock, ham steak, smoked bacon, sausage or pork shank.
  • Herbs and spices: Dried thyme and a bay leaf add a lot of flavor to this soup. A little black pepper gives some kick in the background. You can always substitute in fresh thyme if you have it on hand. Here’s our handy chart for fresh to dried herb conversion.

Directions

Step 1: Clean and soak the peas

Pouring water on peas in a large pan place on a wooden surfaceTMB Studio

Sort through the split peas, checking for pebbles or other dirt, then rinse them thoroughly with cold water. Place the peas in a Dutch oven, and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, and boil for two minutes. Remove the pot from heat. Cover and let the peas stand in the water for one to four hours or until the peas are softened. Drain and rinse the peas, discarding the liquid.

Step 2: Simmer the soup

Ham bone, onion, salt, pepper soaked in water in a large panTMB Studio

Return the peas to the Dutch oven. Add 2-1/2 quarts water, the ham bone, onion, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cover. Allow to cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn.

Step 3: Finish the soup

Cutting the meat into small dice on a wooden tray with knifeTMB Studio

Remove the ham bone from the soup. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove as much meat from the bone as possible. Dice the meat, and return it to the soup, adding the carrot and celery as well. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring often, until the soup reaches desired thickness and the vegetables are tender. Discard the bay leaf, and serve.

Split Pea Soup served in a large pan placed on a white surfaceTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Add cubed potatoes: Like in this hearty split pea soup recipe, potatoes can add to the creamy texture of a soup. Cook a small amount of cubed potatoes along with the carrots and celery.
  • Vegetarian split pea soup: This is an easy dish to make vegetarian. Simply omit the ham bone. If you’re able to use veggie stock instead of water, it will add some extra flavor.
  • Use stock: Speaking of stock, you can replace some or all of the water with a low-sodium chicken stock for a more savory flavor.
  • Add dumplings or sausage: Both dumplings and smoked sausage go great in split pea soup. Make dumplings just like you would for chicken and dumpling soup, or add slices of seared smoked sausage at the end of the soup’s cook time.
  • Make it in a slow cooker: Split peas are a great candidate for slow-cooker soup. Simply set it and forget it, like we do in this English pub split pea soup or this split pea soup with ham and jalapeno.

How to Store Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup will last up to five days in the refrigerator. This soup tastes even better after it sits for a day or two, which makes it the perfect dish to make ahead. To reheat, try adding a bit of liquid if it’s thickened up too much.

Can you freeze split pea soup?

Yes, you can freeze split pea soup. It’s actually one of the best soups for freezing! Let it cool, then store in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to three months. Note that it will thicken as it sits, so you will likely need to add some water or broth when you reheat it. Here are more tips on how to freeze soup.

Split Pea Soup Tips

Split Pea Soup served in small bowl with breadTMB Studio

Do you have to soak the peas for split pea soup?

In a pinch, you can still make this soup without soaking the peas ahead. It will take longer for the soup to cook, but it will get there eventually, and it will still be delicious.

How can you thicken split pea soup?

One way to thicken split pea soup is by adding potatoes to the soup. As the potatoes cook and break down, their starches will add a natural creaminess and act as a thickening agent. You can also stir in a bit of cream at the end for richness.

What can you serve with split pea soup?

Serve your favorite bread recipe with split pea soup. Our basic homemade bread is a great place to start, as is this ultra-easy pull-apart garlic bread. A green salad would round out the meal. Here are some of our favorite side salad recipes.

Watch how to Make Old-Fashioned Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone

Old-Fashioned Split Pea Soup

Prep Time 15 min
Yield 10 servings (about 2-1/2 quarts).

Ingredients

  • 1 package (16 ounces) dried green split peas
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery

Directions

  1. Sort peas and rinse with cold water. Place peas in a Dutch oven; add water to cover by 2 in. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 1-4 hours or until peas are softened. Drain and rinse peas, discarding liquid.
  2. Return peas to Dutch oven. Add 2-1/2 qts. water, ham bone, onion, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the ham bone; when cool enough to handle, remove meat from bone. Discard bone; dice meat and return to soup. Add carrot and celery. Simmer, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes or until soup reaches desired thickness and vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 202 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated fat), 11mg cholesterol, 267mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 12g fiber), 14g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 lean meat.

Not only is this old-fashioned favorite a snap to make but it's economical too. Carrots, celery and onion accent the subtle flavor of the split peas, while a ham bone adds a meaty touch to this hearty soup. It's sure to chase away autumn's chill. —Laurie Todd, Columbus, Mississippi