Ham and Split Pea Soup

My Mom had cooked a smoked ham and decided that it was just too salty for her liking – so I ended up with 3/4 of a smoked ham as leftovers. The first thing I thought of making was split pea soup. I’ve never made it before, but have enjoyed the road signs and ordering it at Pea Soup Andersen’s – which until now –  I always thought was Andersen’s Split Pea Soup… learn something new with each blog post I research. Trips down to Southern California to see Ace’s family began or ended with a side trip to Santa Nella off Interstate 5 for a bowl of Andersen’s soup. Good memories indeed.

I asked a friend if she had any good recipes and she didn’t, so she did a search and found Emeril Lagasse’s recipe on The Food Network website.


While I didn’t have a ham hock and Parmesan truffled potato chips were just a little too fancy for everyday lunches, I managed to adjust the recipe a bit to accommodate the ingredients I did have on hand. I added more carrots, pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh thyme and water – adjustments are reflected below.



  • 1 Pound Dried Split Peas
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Yellow Onions
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Celery
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Carrots
  • 2 Teaspoons Minced Garlic
  • 1 Pound Chopped Smoked Ham
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 8-10 Cups Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme



  • Place the peas in a large pot or bowl, cover with water by 2 inches and soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain the peas and set aside.
  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the smoked ham and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown. Add the drained peas, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add 8 cups of water, the bay leaf and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. (Add more water as needed, if the soup becomes too thick or dry.)
  • Remove the bay leaf and discard. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve immediately.

I ended up soaking the peas overnight. The liquid absorbed and I was left with a giant bowl of green peas that fascinated my little helper.


Seriously the cutest sous chef on the planet…


I used the strainer to drain the peas – there was a little water left in the bowl.


In a large pot, I melted the butter over medium-high heat. I then added the onions and cooked, stirring, for 2 minutes. The celery and carrots went in next and I cooked/stirred for about 3 minutes until soft. I added the garlic and cooked, stirring for a minute or so.


I diced up the smoked ham and added that next.


My spices went in next – ground pepper, salt and red pepper flakes.


Water, a bay leaf and fresh thyme were next into the pot.


Let’s face it, split pea soup is just not pretty… it doesn’t photograph well, but man does it taste good.


I ended up adding 8-10 cups of water to the recipe ingredients – I used 8 cups and could probably have used 9 if not 10. I thickened very fast. Other than being on the thicker side, the flavor was spot on. Several people mentioned using a combination of chicken stock/broth and water in their recipe reviews, but I felt that the smoked ham was salty as is, and I didn’t have any low sodium broth. I just went with water and wasn’t disappointed in the results. I ended up finishing off my bowls with fresh thyme and some garlic croutons for my lunches during the week.


A huge thanks to my Mom for giving me the ham and to my friend Kristen for helping me find Emeril’s recipe. Not sure why I waited so long to give split pea soup a try, it was pretty easy. I’m also over my “soak overnight” fear, so lots of other dried legumes await.

Got any good soup recipes for me to try? It’s currently raining and there is nothing better than a big mug or bowl of soup and fresh baked bread on a day like today.

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1 comment

    • Jess on April 1, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Seriously adorable pic of Finn!
    I should try this – my dad LOVES split pea soup…

    Also – I think mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery) cooking, is just about the best smell in the whole wide world.

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