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Split Pea Soup with smoked ham is thick, creamy and super delicious!
There are a few different ways to make Split Pea Soup. Today’s recipe is 100% from scratch, starting with a bone-in smoked shoulder.
Note: If you happen to have a leftover ham bone from the holidays and want to make your Split Pea Soup with that, see the notes at the bottom of our recipe card below. We give you an adapted version of this recipe there.
Homemade Ham Stock
You’ll start by making a very flavorful ham stock with a four or five pound smoked shoulder. If you can find a ham hock at the supermarket, buy one of those too and include that in the stock as well.
First, simmer the smoked shoulder (and optional ham hock) in a pot of water for about five minutes to remove any excess salt from the meat. Discard the water.
Add fresh cold water to the pot with the pork and with carrots, onions, celery, garlic, cloves, bay leaves, and whole peppercorns. Simmer uncovered for two hours – adding more water to the pot as needed to make sure that the meat is fully submerged as it cooks.
After the two hours is up, remove the meat to a platter and strain the solids from the stock. You should have about six cups of flavorful ham stock. Pick the meat from the ham bone to add to your Split Pea Soup; also save the bone.
You can make this stock ahead of time.
Make the Spit Pea Soup
In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, start by frying up some bacon. The cooked bacon can be crumbled and used as a garnish when serving your Split Pea Soup, and some of the bacon fat should be saved to cook the vegetables in the soup.
Saute onions, carrots, celery and leeks in the rendered bacon fat and cook until tender. Add potatoes, split green peas, and the ham bone to the pot along with the ham stock. Simmer for 45 minutes – the peas and potatoes should be tender.
Remove the ham bone from the soup, then puree the soup until thick and creamy. Add the cooked ham and serve immediately, sprinkling with crumbled bacon on top if you’d like.
You may enjoy these other pea recipes:
- Minted Green Pea Puree
- Parmesan Peas with Pancetta and Shallots
- Peas with Prosciutto
- Israeli Couscous with Chicken and Peas
- Creamed Salmon and Peas Over Linguini
4–5 pound fully cooked smoked shoulder with bone (mine was 4 3/4 pounds)
1 smoked ham hock, optional
1 medium carrot, quartered
1 medium onion, quartered
1 celery stalk, quartered
1 garlic clove
1 whole clove
2 bay leaves
(DO NOT ADD SALT)
4 slices bacon, diced small
1 1/2 cups onion, diced
1 1/2 cups carrot, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 1/4 cups leek, diced (white only and cleaned of sand)
2 cups yellow potato, diced
1/2 pound dry green split peas (check expiration date)
6 cups of ham stock from above
2 pounds cut up smoked shoulder, from above
Before you begin, if you need to cut the smoked shoulder into two or three pieces to fit into your pot, feel free to do so. I cut mine into three pieces.
Make the stock by placing the smoked shoulder and ham hock in a pot covered in cold water and bring to a boil. Boil five minutes then discard the water. This is to remove salt from the stock.
Place the ham hock and smoked shoulder back into the same pot along with the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, whole clove, bay leaves and peppercorns.
Fill with enough cold water to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil, then lower to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for two hours, checking after one hour and adding more water to keep the ingredients covered.
After two hours, remove the shoulder and ham hock to a platter and strain the solids from the liquid. You should have six cups of liquid. If less, add water to equal six cups. If more, cook down a little longer to six cups. Set the stock aside until later. I did this step a day earlier and refrigerated the stock and meat.
Pick the ham from the bone but save the bone. Dice the meat into bite sized pieces and set aside.
Discard the strained solids and the ham hock.
To make the soup, in a 4-5 quart heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the bacon to crisp.
Remove the bacon and set aside. You should have three tablespoons of bacon fat; if more, remove some.
Increase heat to medium high and add the onion, carrot, celery and leek. Once hot and bubbly, lower heat to medium low, cover and let cook eight minutes.
After eight minutes, remove cover and add the potato, split peas, the ham bone saved from earlier, and the stock and bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer and cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove and discard ham bone.
Puree with a blender or an emersion blender and taste. Only add salt now if needed.
Add the cooked ham and stir.
Serve with crumbled bacon over each portion.
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If you are using a ham bone instead of making a ham stock from scratch, cook the ham bone down with the ham hock and stock ingredients using less water and once strained, add enough canned chicken or vegetable stock to equal six cups. Continue with recipe but buy and add cooked ham at the end.