Cool, gray days are perfect for making a big batch of warming soup. And letting your slow cooker do all the work means that homemade soup can happen at even the busiest of times. This slow-cooker split pea soup is so easy, all you have to do is put everything in the cooker, and let it simmer.
This recipe brings together the classic combination of split peas, smoky ham, carrots, onions and garlic. And, just like other slow-cooker soups, this one will leave your house smelling incredible as it simmers all day. All you need to do once it’s cooked is ladle the split pea soup into bowls and serve with slices of bread for dunking.
Slow-cooker split pea soup is one of our most-shared slow-cooker recipes, and it’s easy to see why. It’s economical, easy, fuss-free and loaded with fiber, making it a satisfying and filling meal for any time of year.
Ingredients for Slow-Cooker Pea Soup
- Dried split peas: They’re the star of all split pea soup recipes! Look for bags of green split peas in the same grocery aisle as dried beans. Yellow split peas can also be used, though the flavor will be earthier and less sweet. Before using, spread the peas out on a baking sheet, then pick out and discard any pebbles or shriveled peas. Rinse the remaining peas in a colander, and drain well.
- Vegetables: Carrots, garlic and onion are all you need for a full-flavored soup. You can use precut vegetables from the grocery store to cut back on the prep work.
- Ham: Cubed, smoked ham adds the quintessential smoky flavor to a split pea soup. When you’re on the hunt for the choosing the best ham, you can always look for a reduced-sodium ham, then season it after it cooks.
- Chicken broth: Dried peas slowly simmer in chicken broth or stock, becoming tender and soaking up the flavorful liquid. Use homemade chicken broth or our Test Kitchen’s picks for the best chicken broth brands. Vegetable stock is also tasty in this soup.
Step 1: Put everything in the slow cooker
Place the split peas, ham, onion, carrots, garlic, rosemary, thyme, chicken broth and water in a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker.
Editor’s Tip: These brands are our Test Kitchen’s picks for the best slow cooker.
Step 2: Slow-cook the soup
Cover the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until the peas are tender.
Editor’s Tip: As the soup slow-cooks, stir it a few times to evenly distribute the ingredients and avoid any sticking or clumping inside the cooker insert.
- Use a ham bone or hock: Make this soup the more traditional way by using a ham bone or ham hock in place of the diced ham. Add the bone or ham hock to the ingredients, and let it simmer with the soup. Remove the bone or hock before serving. Meat from the hock can also be sliced off, diced and added to the soup.
- Try smoked bacon: Instead of ham, add cooked and chopped smoked bacon to the soup.
- Make it spicy: Stir in crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper or spicy curry powder for some extra kick.
- Make it vegetarian: For a vegetarian split pea soup, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth or stock, and omit the cooked ham. To get some smoky flavor without the meat, add a few drops of liquid smoke or smoked paprika to the simmering soup. You can also garnish bowls of split pea soup with a drizzle of smoked olive oil or a little smoked sea salt.
How to Store Slow-Cooker Split Pea Soup
Allow the soup to cool completely, then cover and store it in the fridge for up to one week. Reheat the soup on the stovetop or in the microwave, and stir in a little water or stock if it’s too thick.
Can I make slow-cooker split pea soup ahead of time?
Yes! To make the soup ahead of time, keep the finished, cooled soup in the fridge. On the day you want to serve it, warm the soup in the slow cooker or on the stovetop, adding water or chicken broth as needed to thin it somewhat. (It gets very thick after chilling.)
Can you freeze slow-cooker split pea soup?
This is one of those excellent soups to freeze for meals down the road. Ladle the cooled soup into freezer-proof containers or bags, and seal them tightly. Keep the soup in the freezer for up to three months. Let the soup thaw in the fridge, then reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.
Split Pea Soup Tips
Do split peas need to be soaked before cooking?
For this recipe, no soaking is necessary since they will soften during the long simmer. However, if you want to reduce the cooking time for the soup, you can soak the peas beforehand. Simply cover the peas in cold water, and let them soak for at least four hours or up to overnight.
How do you thicken split pea soup?
To thicken the texture of split pea soup, scoop a cup of the finished soup into a blender, and process until smooth. Return it to the soup, then stir to combine thoroughly. You can also add diced potatoes to the slow cooker about 30 minutes before the end of the cook time. When they break down, the natural starches will make the soup creamier and heartier. Here are some other tips on how to thicken sauce, which you can implement in a soup.
What goes well with slow-cooker split pea soup?
A thick and hearty soup like this one is just asking to be paired with thick slices of crusty bread or baguette that have been spread with softened butter. Our crunchy breadsticks or homemade croutons are tasty sides to serve, too. To make the soup a full meal, serve it with a small green salad and a melty grilled cheese sandwich.