Split Pea Soup

by Kelly on November 10, 2010

Did you know this week is National Split Pea Soup Week? I had no idea until the US Dry Pea & Lentil Council offered to send me some split peas in order to make my own pot to celebrate.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  Nestled in my freezer was a ham hock I had brined and smoked myself a month ago.  I’d been waiting for the right opportunity to use it, and National Split Pea Soup Week it was.  Add in the fact that I’ve come down with a bit of a cold and found myself craving something hot, salty, and satisfying and this definitely fit the bill.  My version combined involved simmering split peas, a meaty ham hock, and bay leaves in a combination of water and chicken stock.  Once the peas were cooked through and starting to break down and the ham was fall-off-the-bone tender I added in some thinly sliced leeks, chopped carrots, and a grated garlic clove.  In the last minute of cooking I added in some freshly ground pepper and added a dash of Worcestershire Sauce to round out the flavor.

The result was something so comforting and perfect for enjoying on a sick day.  A delicious smokey pork flavor punctuated the whole bowl and the split peas made for a creamy broth with occasional pieces of silky leeks that almost melted into the bowl.   Sometimes I find it’s easy to overlook the classics for something that challenges me in the kitchen, but this week was a good reminder that every once and awhile it’s great to get back to the basics.  I loved this soup and know I won’t be waiting for another sick day to roll around to enjoy it again.

Split Pea Soup
Adapted from a recipe by the US Dry Pea & Lentil Council
Yields 8 servings

-1 1-pound smoked ham hock
-1 pound dry green split peas (about 2 1/2 cups)
-1 quart plus 2 cups water
-1 quart chicken broth
-2 bay leaves
-1 large leek, thinly sliced, rinsed for dirt, and patted dry
-2 medium carrots, diced
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-1 dash Worcestershire Sauce
-Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Combine the ham hock, peas, water and broth in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer covered until the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about one hour.

Remove the ham hock from the pot and set aside to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bone (I used a fork and knife for this step.), removing any excess fat. Shred or chop the meat into small pieces.

To the pot add your leeks, celery, garlic, and chopped. Simmer until the soup is creamy and the vegetables are tender

Remove the bay leaves. Add the Worcestershire Sauce and black pepper and stir well to combine. Serve immediately.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica @ How Sweet November 10, 2010 at 7:11 am

Mmm I would love this with the smoky flavor. it sounds delicious.


brandi November 10, 2010 at 10:51 am

that’s so funny – I had NO idea about this and I made split pea soup Monday night! Coincidence? 🙂


Kelly November 10, 2010 at 11:09 am

Jessica – The smokey flavor definitely made it. I was shocked at how one ham hock could add so much flavor to my soup. I’m already thinking pork stock made from a ham hock is next on my list. Seems like a good weekend project.

Brandi – That is too funny!


Liz @ Blog is the New Black November 10, 2010 at 11:53 am

This sounds amazing, esp with the smokey flavah!


Sues November 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I love split pea soup but didn’t know it was the national week for it!! I might have to make some now! You took a typically ugly soup and made it look so deliciously pretty 🙂


Kelly November 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Liz – I agree. I’m a huge fan for smoke. It makes everything better.

Sues – Oh but as a blogger you should know by now! There is a week for everything. Thanks for the compliment. 😀


Shannon November 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm

you know what, i don’t know that i’ve ever had split pea soup! might need to make me some now 🙂


CaSaundra November 12, 2010 at 9:52 am

I had no idea it was Split Pea Soup week!! Maybe that should serve as an excuse for me to make it for the first time from scratch..I always just get it at a local diner and it’s delish!


stephen November 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm

oh, that looks nice ! that’s one of my all time favs
hey we can have a soup off :/


Kerstin November 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Mmm, I love split pea soup! Apolinaras always makes it for us – love your version!


Jen (Modern Beet) November 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm

It makes me so happy that such a thing as Split Pea Soup week exists! I’m curious about the homemade ham hock! That sounds like a fun project! Did you ever write about it?


Kelly November 17, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Shannon – Never!?! I guess I always assumed everyone had it a lot. Guess that is what happens when it is your fathers’ favorite soup.

Stephen – Yum. Crab bisque? Your timing couldn’t be better. I just brought a 1/2 a bushel of Maryland crabs back from a trip.

Kerstin – Awww. I’m jealous that you have a hubby to cook for you.

Jen – I actually did not post about it since I lifted the method verbatim from Charcuterie (awesome book). However I may in the future.


Hannah November 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Aw man, I wish I had know about split pea week- Looks like I just missed it? I haven’t made pea soup in ages, but it’s definitely that kind of weather, and I could certainly go for a bowlful after seeing your photos!


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