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Split Pea Soup

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr 15 min
  • Calories: 455
homemade split pea soup in a bowl with carrots, ham, bacon

The heartiest, most rib-sticking soup of all has got to be this smoky, creamy ham-and-bacon loaded split pea soup!

Please Say Hello to The Best Split Pea Soup Recipe, Ever.

Warming and hearty, this split pea soup recipe is a real winter keeper. It takes the chill off even the coldest of days, in the rib-sticking way that only a soup that’s this thick, that’s this loaded with bacon and ham possibly could. It makes wonderful leftovers—the flavors of the ham get better and more pervasive after a day or two—and it freezes well, too.

ingredients for split pea soup: ham, bacon, carrots, celery, chicken stock, garlic, thyme, onion and lentils

Is Split Pea Soup Healthy?

While it’s maybe not totally accurate to call something that includes both ham and bacon flat-out “healthy”, in terms of general nutrition, split pea soup has a lot to offer! Split peas have been in use for millenia. They appear in the ancient cuisines of Egypt, Greece, China and Rome. It’s easy to understand why they’ve been beloved by humans for so long—they’re small, the last forever, and they’re quite nutrient-dense. They are loaded with fiber and protein, so although this is not a vegetarian soup, it’s not incredibly meat-heavy and it’s nonetheless a terrific source of protein. Split peas are a good source of B vitamins, and iron, too.

bacon simmering in a dutch oven
carrots, celery and onions cooking in bacon fat in a dutch oven
bacon, carrots, onion, celery, chicken stock, and split pea lentils in a dutch oven soup pot
bacon, carrots, onion, celery, chicken stock, and split pea lentils cooked in a dutch oven soup pot with a wooden spoon

The Ultimate Question: Split Pea Soup With Ham or Split Pea Soup With Bacon?

Now, some people are die-hard old-schoolers on this and will only make green split pea soup with a ham hock. Others are devoted bacon lovers and want their pea soup loaded with smoky bacon. We say why choose?! Instead of a ham hock, though, we’ve simplified things a bit and used regular old deli ham, sliced thickly. So, this split pea soup with ham and bacon gets plenty of porky smoke from both:

  • Applewood smoked bacon.

  • Thick-cut smoked ham slices. These can be cut from the bone if you have a leftover ham, or purchased from the deli counter. Just be sure to ask the person behind the counter to slice the ham 1/4-inch thick.

ham and bacon being added to split pea soup in a pot
homemade split pea soup in a pot

Seasonings for Split Pea Soup

Somewhere along the way, someone decided that split pea soup goes from good to fantastic if you season it with smoky things (like the aforementioned ham hock) and who are we to mess with perfection? The bacon and ham will add a lot of salty goodness and smoky flavor to the pea soup, but we up the ante even more with additional spices and seasonings. In addition to the usual suspects like salt and pepper, our pea soup recipe gets flavor in spades from:

  • Mirepoix! AKA carrots, celery and onion, sautéed in bacon fat (yep, why waste that liquid gold when you could cook with it instead?). The classic flavor-giving base of every great soup, including this one.

  • Thyme. Fresh or dried is just fine. This earthy herb is a really classic pair for split pea soup, and you’ll taste why.

  • Smoked paprika. Sometimes called pimentón or smoked Spanish paprika, we’re so into this brick red, deeply flavorful spice. It adds so much to a dish, and here, it really amplifies the smoky flavors of the ham and bacon.

  • Parmesan cheese. This is completely optional, but we’re very much of the opinion that a dusting of fresh Parmesan is the perfect compliment to any and all things, including this split pea soup.

A pot of split pea soup with a ladle
homemade split pea soup in a soup pot with a ladle

How Do You Make Split Pea Soup From Scratch?

  1. Crisp the bacon in the pot you’ll make the soup in. When the bacon is cooked, take it out, but leave some of the fat that rendered out.

  2. Cook the onion, celery and carrots in the bacon drippings and, after a few minutes, add the garlic.

  3. Pour in the stock, split peas, thyme and smoked paprika and bring it to a boil.

  4. Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the peas are very, very soft and have almost melted into a singular sort of mush—the best kind of soupy mush.

  5. If you’d like, you can use an immersion blender to blend about 1/3 of the soup and make it extra, extra smooth, but it’s also delicious as-is.

  6. Stir the ham and bacon to the finished split pea soup. Season to taste and dig in!

a bowl of split pea soup with thyme and parmesan

Tools You’ll Need

More Hearty Winter Soup Recipes

homemade split pea soup with carrots, ham, bacon
homemade split pea soup in a bowl with carrots, ham, bacon in a bowl

A Split Pea Soup to Warm You Up Through and Through

Did anyone else read Owl at Home as a kid? Where poor old Owl invites winter to come in for a visit and a blizzard takes over his living room, rendering his warm bowl of split pea soup frozen solid? It’s pretty heartbreaking. But this soup will break no hearts—instead, it’ll warm winter-chilled bodies from the inside out! If you make it, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Split Pea Soup

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr 15 min
  • Calories: 455

Ingredients

  • 4 slices Applewood smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 Medium yellow onion, diced about 1 ½ cups
  • 3 Ribs celery, finely chopped, about 1 ½ cups
  • 2 Large carrots, finely chopped, about 1 ½ cups
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups Chicken stock
  • 1 (16 oz) bag Dried split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tsp Chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked paprika
  • ½ lb Smoked ham slices cut from the bone or purchased from the deli counter, 1/4 inch thick, cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 tsp Sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving, optional

Method

  1. In a large soup pot, set over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate, reserve 2-4 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the pot.
  2. Add the onion, celery and carrots to the bacon drippings and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add 2-3 tablespoons of chicken stock if the bottom of the pan begins to brown too quickly. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add the chicken stock, split peas, thyme and paprika. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and keep a heavy-simmer, stirring occasionally until peas are very tender, about 45 minutes. *If you’d like the soup to be slightly creamier, blend 1/3 of the soup with an immersion blender or alternatively you can transfer 1/3 of the soup to the base of a blender and blend until smooth. Return the blended soup to the pot.
  4. Add the ham and bacon to the soup, stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with parmesan cheese, if desired.