Split Pea Soup

March 10, 2011

Continuing with my love of hearty soups (and my pantry discovery of a full bag of green split peas), it was time for some split pea soup yesterday! I’ve been trying to use up some of the older items from my pantry and my freezer lately; my dad had given me some ham steaks that have been sitting in my freezer the past couple months, so this was a perfect recipe to free up both pantry and freezer space. Because it doesn’t call for a ham bone, this recipe uses a few strips of bacon (simmered with the soup and then discarded) to impart more flavor to the broth than would be possible using ham steak alone. Recipe is from the January/February issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.

Split pea soup

Serves 6 to 8


  • 2  tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1  large onion, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Table salt
  • 2  medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 7  cups water
  • 1  ham steak (about 1 pound), skin removed, cut into quarters
  • 3  slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ounces)
  • 1  pound green split peas (about 2 cups), picked through and rinsed
  • 2  sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2  bay leaves
  • 2  medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1  medium celery rib, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • Ground black pepper


  1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add water, ham steak, bacon, peas, thyme, and bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer, stirring frequently to keep peas from sticking to bottom. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until peas are tender but not falling apart, about 45 minutes.
  2. Remove ham steak, cover with foil or plastic wrap to prevent drying out, and set aside. Stir in carrots and celery; continue to simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender and peas have almost completely broken down, about 30 minutes longer.
  3. When cool enough to handle, shred ham into small bite-size pieces with two forks. Remove and discard thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and bacon slices. Stir ham back into soup and return to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper; serve.

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