Ham and Split Pea Soup

We had a delicious bone-in ham at Thanksgiving and there was quite a bit of meat left so I tossed it in the freezer. I wrap leftover bones in foil and plastic for a later date when I have time to make soup. And today is that day.

People think it takes a long time to make soup but….well, it does.  But not YOUR time.  Just time. You need to simmer your bones for about 3 hours but you can do other stuff while that’s happening!  And you need to be patient.  Good stock takes time, and you want the meat to be falling off the bone. This Ham and Split Pea Soup is worth the wait.

If you have a large pot with an insert for steaming or draining, this works great. Place the bone inside and fill it with cold water until the bone is almost covered. Toss in a couple bay leaves and simmer on the stove top for up to 3 hours. Take the meat out, refrigerate the stock and pick all the meat you can once it’s cool enough to handle.

ham and split pea soup

After about 3 hours. ham and split pea soup

You can finish the soup later in the day, or the next day….

Cooling the stock in the fridge, or outside if it’s cold enough allows the fat to harden on the top of the stock, then you can skim off as much as you want.  Ham bones have lots of fat!

See it looks kind of gross but it’s really easy to scrape the fat off the top when it’s cold.

Once you have removed the fat, dice some onion, carrot and celery. This is the flavour base for most soups and stews. It’s called a mirepoix.

ham and split pea soup

Add to the broth and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with salt and pepper. I  like to add a spoonful of dried chicken stock which helps give it a bit more flavour. And a few sprigs of fresh thyme makes it perfect. No need to remove the tiny leaves, they will fall off and incorporate into the soup as it cooks. Then you just remove the stems before serving. And remove the bay leaves. You aren’t supposed to eat them! I don’t think….


Chop up the ham and add to the broth. It’s amazing how much meat you can get off one ham bone.

Rinse your dried split peas and drain. Add them to the pot and let simmer for about an hour. Split peas are actually legumes which are high in protein and fibre. They’re also low in fat. They break down after about an hour of cooking and thicken the soup.

split yellow peas

This recipe makes a big pot of soup so you need 3 cups of split peas. Basically the ratio is about 1 cup dried peas to 4 cups liquid, ish.

ham and split pea soup

It’s done when the peas are soft and the soup is very thick.

ham and split pea soup

Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Here’s the recipe:

Ham and Split Pea Soup

Ham and Split Pea Soup


1 cooked ham bone with meat
12 cups cold water
1 large onion or 2 small
3-4 carrots
2 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried chicken stock
2-3 sprigs of thyme
3 cups yellow split peas
Salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley if desired


Add cold water to ham bone in large soup pot. Add 2 bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for about 3 hours until the meat is falling off the bone. Remove bones and meat, refrigerate the stock. 

Chop ham into bit sized pieces once cool enough to handle.

Once the stock is cooled, remove the fat from the top.
Finely dice the onion, carrots and celery. Bring the stock to a boil and add vegetables, chicken stock and ham. Reduce to simmer, taste and season with salt and pepper. Rinse peas, drain and add to soup. Simmer for up to 1 hour or until the peas are very soft and the soup is thick.

Remove thyme stems before serving and garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.

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