Split Pea Soup, adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Split Pea Soup

Yeah, it really IS the best split pea!

Too many of us only know Split Pea Soup from a can. There’s really no comparison to the real deal! Done right, this homey (and kind of homely) soup will win your heart.

Split Pea Soup, adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Split Pea Soup, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Loaded with ham, fortified with caramelized vegetables, topped with a swirl of balsamic and a bit of red onion to add just the right bite – and served with plain old saltines, this soup deserves a place in your winter repertoire of recipes!

Like it’s after Holiday Ham counterpart, Navy Bean Soup, Split Pea is down right cheap to make; think about doubling it. Because Split Pea Soup freezes well, it’s a great soup to divide into portions for lunches or freeze for a meal. It separates when thawed so just stir it back together.

Split Pea Soup, adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Split Pea Soup, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

I think this was adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. The main takeaway was the browning and caramelizing of the vegetables. The tiny bit of sugar, while not noticeable in the soup, works marvels in getting the most flavor possible from the veggies and makes a big difference in the finished soup.

The little amount of money it takes to make this soup doesn’t affect the flavor – I’m a huge Split Pea Soup fan & only once had a bowl that rivals this recipe – at an Eastern European Deli, Krazmarczuks. One plus of having it at home? I’m not tempted by their lovely tortes and imported delicacies!

Split Pea Soup, adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Split Pea Soup, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Split Pea Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 3 quarts water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 pound split peas
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • pinch of sugar
  • ¾ cup diced potato, preferably red, but any will do, peeled (1 large if red, medium if russet)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar, optional
  • Minced red onion, optional

Place ham bone, bay leaves and three quarts water in large pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours till tender.

Remove bone and when cool enough to handle, shred meat and set aside. Skim as much fat as possible from the top of the broth. (This is a good place to stop if you’re not making it for tonight’s meal – just refrigerate the broth and skim off any fat that accumulates on the top the next day.)

Add split peas and thyme, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes.

While the split peas simmer, heat oil in a large skillet and saute onions, carrots and celery till liquid evaporates and vegetables begin to brown on the edges, five to six minutes. Reduce heat and add sugar, garlic and butter, and cook slowly, stirring now and then till vegetables reach a deep caramelized color, about 30 to 35 minutes.

After the peas have cooked for about 45 minutes, add in the cooked vegetables, the potatoes and the shredded ham meat. Simmer till consistency of heavy cream, about 20 more minutes. Season with pepper.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and minced red onion, if desired.

Note: Split Pea Soup will thicken and gel in the fridge. Add milk or water when reheating to bring to desired consistency.

From the kitchen of http://www.frugalhausfrau.com, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Read Strategies Applied for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving money/time and managing this recipe on a budget.
  • Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! Do not discount the savings! Every store has an enthusiastic group of couponers sharing the best deals.


(varies, but based on one cup of shredded ham)

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 394 Calories; 10g Fat (21.9% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 21g Dietary Fiber; 18mg Cholesterol; 364mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat

Pay Off:

A meal that’s dirt cheap, but still feels a little special. Serve with crackers, warm rolls or a toasted sandwich, if you’d like, although it’s hearty enough to feel like a meal on it’s own.

Split Pea Soup with Ham last made February 2012, $1.67 for six servings.

Helpful Links:

If you came to this recipe looking for a way to use ham, be sure to check out the link below for 12 Days of Ham. You might want to see the sister post for 12 Days of Turkey, too.

9 thoughts on “Split Pea Soup”

    1. Thanks Rebecca, and I’m so happy you let me know you liked it! I wish I were there, now for a bowl because I am now the only person in the household that likes Split Pea! Happy New Year’s to you both!

    1. Thanks,Lolly – I’m really on a difficult learning curve with my new photography application! Hopefully, I’ll get better…The soup is better than it looks here! How do you like the new layout?

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