Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Late November days, often with fog as “thick as pea soup”, give way to split pea soup cravings. After Thanksgiving exigencies, I am happy to rein it in with a simple supper of split pea soup and bread.

Growing up in the American South, I savored ham hocks that were used abundantly to season greens, beans, peas and soup. Quintessential soul food, I’d watch my father pick away at a ham hock served on a bed of seasoned greens. Ham hocks are pig joints. Though laden with gristle and fat, the flavorful bone provides a delicious stock, wonderfully complementary in split pea soup. Smoked turkey legs or wings, I’ve found, are excellent substitutes for ham hocks.

The addition of balsamic vinegar and tarragon or rosemary, transforms this simple pea soup from everyday to sublime.

Split Pea soup thickens considerably after being refrigerated. To reconstitute, you may want to add additional water to the soup when reheating.

Recipe: Split Pea Soup


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound smoked ham hock(s)*
  • 1 pound dry split peas
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon or rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dry)


  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil to medium and sauté carrots, onion and celery with a pinch of kosher salt until tender and fragrant, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add 10 cups of water to pot, ham hock(s) and peas to pot, stir, and let come to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until peas are emulsified and thickened into a purée, 75-90 minutes. Stir in additional water if soup becomes too thick.
  3. Remove bay leaf and discard. Remove ham hock, cutting any ham away from bone and returning meat to soup. Season to taste with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, balsamic vinegar and tarragon.

*In general, I’ve found the larger ham hocks have far more meat than the smaller ones. I look for ham hocks close to a pound each.

Active time: 12 minutes

Simmer time: 75-90 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4-6

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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