Split Pea and Ham - The Chef's Cooking School

Split Pea and Ham

Ham and split pea soup will be the next dish we discuss.  Ah, the rich smoked ham or shoulder that adds the main character to split pea soup. I prefer  my split pea thicker.  However not thickened with traditional methods, the thickness of this soup comes from the cooking down of the split peas themselves.  The longer you cook the pea occupied broth, the thicker the soup gets.  This is a preference, so you choose your thickness.  However, potatoes, carrots, ham or shoulder in a pea thickened solution is a treat, if you can get past the pale army green color.

Split Pea and Ham- Soup vs Stew

Split pea and ham is unique kind of soup.  It begins like a soup, is similar to a stew.  So you can see where the argument of soup vs stew might come from.  

If you were making a beef stew you would season your beef and dredge it in flour, you would sear the beef and place it in a stock pot with vegetables and  stock.  When it is completed you would end up with a thickened stock, because the flour would thicken the stock.  The meat would be tender because you have stewed it over time which tenderized it, the vegetables would be tender, potatoes as well.  

The flavor would be rich, with beef and tomato flavors, that would be complimented by the seasonings of garlic, rosemary pepper savory, thyme etc.  The potatoes would act as the receiver because as you put the stew in a bowl you would have the option to mash the potatoes in the bowl and mix it with the stew and vegetables.  You could dip your butter laden bread slice in the rich sauce and savor the flavors.

Your pea soup would vary in the process that you make it, there would be no flour.  The meat wouldn't be seared, the only thickening agent that you would use is the reduction and breakdown of the split peas in the soup.  You might even get into the discussion that some people don't enjoy their split pea soup as thick.  The beauty of this is that while you are making it, if you want the pea soup thinner you don't cook it as long.  If you enjoy the thickness than you can cook it longer.  As the peas cook they break down into fine starches and the water dissipates, allowing for the soup to thicken.

Split pea and ham - soup VS stew, this is tough battle, your pea soup ends up thicker and has virtually the same types of ingredients which might be, celery, onions, carrots, with potatoes and ham.  The big difference I believe lies in the way the soup thickens, as peas reduce the soup thickens where in beef stew you actually aim to thicken by using the flour.  This to me is the tipping point for the two.  Either way a bowl of beef stew or a bowl of split pea soup, you can't go wrong.

Is Split Pea and Ham Soup Good For You?

I would argue that in moderation naturally prepared foods must have health benefits for you.  Is split pea and ham soup good for you?  Well the stock used is infused with vegetables and split peas, with the addition of potatoes and ham.   The results of a nutritional analysis would reveal that there is above average protein for a soup,  with above average iron and vitamin A.  Calories are above average  by about 25 % and most other things are about average.  

I think there are many health benefits in the soup which is nutrient rich with high protein levels for a soup.  Calories can be high but this is a high fuel, high protein soup. his is not a bad soup, however the rich flavor and fullness make it prime for people who like it to abuse it and over it.  If done so you will receive the health benefits, however you will also consume high quantities of calories.  So good for you yes, I believe it is, in moderation.

What Makes A Great Split Pea and Ham Soup Recipe?

What makes a great split pea and ham soup recipe isn't the recipe, it isn't the equipment or the kitchen.  What makes a great split pea recipe is the ingredients.  With any food dish you are faced with some decisions.  What should I get to make this dish.  

The challenge revolves around availability and quality.  These two factors dictate a lot.  The first and often the biggest is price.  You may find the ingredients that you want to make a dish but because it isn't readily used or available that the price may be much higher than anticipated.

Now you are faced with a decision; does the price for this product leave me with the value to results decision to make it worth buying.  The answer may be simple, often times if you are making a specific recipe that requires a certain ingredient than you might decide to buy the higher priced ingredient.   However in the case of split pea and ham there are many hams that are inexpensive that have similar or equal value to you as there is for a higher priced ham.  

You may decide to go with the lower priced ham over the higher priced theoretically higher quality product.  This is a personal decision that you need to weigh your personal knowledge and decide if the value equates to your need for it. Whatever you decide the recipe will honor your request, and give you the best results it can.

Pin Recipe
Print Recipe
0 from 0 votes

Split Pea and Ham

What a tasty treat if you can get over the fact that it is green. How appropriate for an Irish soup
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
Want more recipes like this?Sign up for Chef Thymes!
Servings: 8
Calories: 395kcal


  • 1 Bone From Ham or use ham hocks, leave some meat on bone
  • 1 lb. Split Peas wash
  • 1 gal Chicken Stock or water
  • 1 cup Celery washed, diced
  • 1 cup Carrot peeled, diced
  • 1 cup Onion peeled, diced
  • 1 cup Potato peeled, diced, cooked seperately in simmering water until tender


  • Simmer bones in stock with split peas 
  • Pea soup thickens as the stock reduces and the peas break down, the thickness is a preference.  I like my pea soup on the thicker side.  Cook to your desired thickness
  • You will want to allow celery carrots and onion 20 - 30 minutes to cook.  If they cook the entire time in the soup they will fall apart
  • Taste and adjust seasonings
Nutrition Facts
Split Pea and Ham
Amount Per Serving
Calories 395 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 14mg5%
Sodium 709mg31%
Potassium 1274mg36%
Carbohydrates 57g19%
Fiber 16g67%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 2830IU57%
Vitamin C 7.8mg9%
Calcium 68mg7%
Iron 4.5mg25%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Sign up for Chef Thymes Today