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The Secret to the Best Split Pea Soup (Ham Bone)

Full-flavored split pea soup with ham bone is hearty, nutritious, and easy to whip up in the Instant Pot. The pressure cooker releases the flavor and nutrition from the ham bone to create a crave-worthy soup to satisfy your appetite.

split pea soup with ham bone in instant pot

Have you discovered the incredible flavor that a leftover ham bone can bring to soup? I have always made split pea soup with ham. My family loves that soup.

However, in 2020 when we were all at home, I was cautious about wasting anything. Remember how it was not always easy to find things in the store? I hesitated to throw out anything that had any use left.  

This extended to the ham we ate for Easter. I decided to use every bit of the ham from the leftover holiday ham. Including the meaty ham bone.

Best decision ever! I was astonished to discover that hambone split pea soup had a ton of flavor. Much more flavor than split pea soup with chopped ham steak added.

rundown of pressure cooker split pea soup with ham bone recipe

First Impression of Split Pea Soup

bowl of split pea soup with biscuit

It is funny how we get impressions about food. I grew up in a large family with a small income. Beans were usually the main source of protein. Split pea soup – vegetarian-style — was a typical dinner. 

Since we didn’t have much growing up, I associated split pea soup with poverty. Funny, yes? 

Split peas are economical, substantial, and full of protein and fiber. The most bang for your buck. Made with inexpensive, simple ingredients that cheaply filled bellies.

This childhood impression continued as I read, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. The fictional story revolves around a young girl living in Germany during World War II. 

References to the daily hot pea soup meals are sprinkled throughout the book. On Sunday, Mama Hubermann cooked a big batch of pea soup in a large Dutch oven.

She cooked enough soup to last all week. And then she made a new pot the following Sunday. Everyone ate it and didn’t complain. 

Despite the naive impressions of my youth, age and wisdom have opened my eyes. Split pea soup may be affordable to make, but the benefits do not stop there.

The ingredients in split pea soup are incredibly healthy. They fill you up and provide protein and fiber. 

But more importantly, a recipe for split pea soup with a ham bone produces a rich, mouthwatering soup. Even if I had unlimited resources, I would still seek it out. Yes, it is that amazing.

What You Will Love About This Soup

  • Incredible flavor. The leftover ham bone adds a ton of flavor. Even more than ham shanks or even adding extra ham to the soup. Even better, you don’t need a lot of meat on the bone to get the flavor. And a smoked ham bone is the best choice!
  • Hearty and filling. Green split peas, vegetables, and ham will fill you up. And keep you warm. It is one of our most popular recipes in cold weather.
  • Quick meal. The pressure cooker takes less time to make a flavorful soup. Compare that to the slow cooker that takes a long time to make just as good a pot of soup.
  • Leftovers taste even better the next day. Just like all the best soups, leftovers are fantastic. What makes homemade split pea soup so much better after a night in the refrigerator?

    Maybe it’s the co-mingling of flavors. Perhaps the water soaks up the starch, plumping the peas and veggies with flavor. Whatever the reason, you will love the leftovers.

    Maybe even more than the original dinner.

What is it about that Ham Bone?

ham bone in a bowl

When a ham bone simmers in broth, it releases the deep savory notes of ham into the soup. As the bone cooks in liquid, all the little bits of ham attached to the bone soften. They begin to come off into the soup. No wasting a speck of ham.

As every bit of flavor is teased out of the ham bone, the soup takes on a rich meaty flavor. This flavor combines with the split peas, potatoes, and carrots to create an incredible, luxurious taste.

Adding meat to the soup doesn’t give the same flavor intensity as simmering the ham bone in the soup. Not by a long shot.

Ham Bone Split Pea Soup Ingredients

ingredients for split pea soup with ham bone

Is Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone Good for You? Split pea soup is incredibly healthy. Take a look at the ingredients to see why.

Green Split Peas

bowl of split peas surrounded by pea pods

Split peas are the main ingredient, the star of the show. Split peas are peas, which have been removed from their pod. Then they are dried, peeled, and split.

Split peas are low in fat and high in fiber and potassium, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium. You can’t go wrong with split peas.

Use a 1-pound bag of split peas for this recipe.

I use green split peas, but you can use yellow split peas too.

Ham Bone

When a ham bone cooks in broth, the bone proteins start to break down into peptides. Remember learning about peptides in high school biology? Me neither.

Peptides are made of short-chain amino acids. Some amino acids that compose peptides help strengthen the body’s cardiovascular system.

Biochemists in Spain conducted an experiment to find out if homemade ham broth contained heart-healthy peptides. 

After simmering a ham bone for 20 minutes, they discovered an abundance of heart-healthy peptides. These peptides entered the bloodstream and supported the cardiovascular system.

Amazing! And all from a ham bone broth. So …. never throw out the bone. Make split pea soup with the ham bone. Your heart will thank you for it.

Potatoes

Potatoes have potassium, fiber, calcium, iron, and zinc. They have no cholesterol and low calories, yet are very filling.  

Both Yukon Gold and Russet work well in this soup.

Vegetables

Carrots, celery, and onions are the main vegetables in split pea soup. These three vegetables make the flavor base in many soups. The flavor combination balances the taste of split peas.

Use a large onion, two celery stalks, and two large carrots.

Vegetable or Chicken Stock

Broth or stock gives the soup more flavor than cooking the soup with water alone.  

I recommend using Better than Bouillon concentrated vegetable base. The bouillon contains seasoned, concentrated vegetables.

As a bonus, Better than Bouillon also has less salt than other bouillons or broths. Add one teaspoon vegetable base for every cup of water. Whisk together until combined.

Alternately, you can use your favorite pre-made vegetable or chicken broth.

Herbs

Thyme is the best herb to flavor split pea soup. Followed by oregano. But don’t forget to add bay leaves, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Dried herbs are a better choice to use in a soup since the flavor of fresh herbs diminishes as they cook. 

Dried herbs also save time since you don’t have to mince anything. Just make sure that when you open your herb container and take a sniff, you can smell the aroma of the herb. Otherwise, the herbs are too stale to use.

Add salt and pepper at the end of cooking time to adjust the taste.

Salt is a little tricky in split pea soup with ham. The salt content of broths varies widely. In addition, ham has a salty flavor. I recommend adding 1 teaspoon of salt to the soup as it cooks.

When the soup is finished cooking, taste it, and add more salt if necessary. But you may not need extra salt.

How to Make Instant Pot Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone

This will become your favorite recipe for pressure cooker split pea soup. By the way, you can substitute the words “electric pressure cooker” for “instant pot”. Any electric pressure cooker will work with this recipe.

I actually prefer the Fagor pressure cooker to the Instant Pot. You can read why I like it in my Fagor pressure cooker review post.

Pressure Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone

ingredients for split pea soup and finished soup in bowl
  • SORT the dried split peas and remove any stones or debris.
  • SOAK the split peas in enough water to cover them by at least four inches. (About 10-12 cups of water). Soak them for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • DRAIN and RINSE the split peas with cold water.
  • PEEL and CHOP the onion, carrots, potato, and celery.
  • POUR four cups of broth into the pressure cooker container. Add the drained split peas, onion, carrots, celery, and potato.
  • SPRINKLE in the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and parsley. Stir to combine.  
  • ADD the ham bone. Make a well in the center of the soup and place the ham bone in the well. Top the soup with 2 bay leaves.
  • SECURE the lid to the pressure cooker.
  • PRESSURE COOK on high pressure for 15 minutes, or until the split peas and vegetables are soft. Manually release the pressure if you are in a hurry. Or allow the pressure to release naturally. Either method is acceptable.
  • REMOVE the bay leaf and ham bone when the soup has finished cooking.  
  • PULL OFF small pieces of ham that are falling off the bone. Add the ham pieces back into the soup for additional flavor. Use the ham bone for another recipe or discard it.
  • STIR the soup to combine.
  • OPTIONAL: For a creamier soup, scoop out 1 cup of soup. Try to get a lot of tender split peas in that cup. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Return the blended soup back to the whole pot and stir.
  • TASTE and add more seasoning if needed.
  • GARNISH with ham, crumbled bacon, or crunchy croutons.

How to Store Leftover Split Pea Ham Soup

You will love having leftovers, so be sure to store them correctly.

  • COOL the hearty soup to room temperature.
  • POUR the leftovers into an airtight container.
  • STORE the container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

How long does split pea soup last in the fridge? The soup will last up to four days in the refrigerator. For more extended storage, freeze the soup.

Can You Freeze Classic Split Pea Soup?

Like all good soups, split pea soup freezes very well. Properly stored, it will last three to six months in the freezer.

  • COOL the soup to room temperature.
  • POUR the leftovers into an airtight freezer container or a freezer zip-top bag.
  • LABEL the container with the contents and the date.
  • STORE in the freezer for up to six months.

Pro Tip: Store the leftover soup in individual serving containers. That makes it easier to use just what you need.

To Thaw: Remove the soup from the freezer and thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.

Individual serving sizes may not need that long to thaw.

How to Reheat Split Pea Soup

Reheating the soup is easy. These instructions are for cold soup stored in the fridge. Not for soup just removed from the freezer.

Stove Top Reheating Directions

The stove top is best when reheating a large amount of soup.

  • Pour the soup into a lidded soup pot.
  • If the soup is very thick, you may need to add additional cups of water or broth.
  • Heat, covered, over medium heat until the soup starts to bubble.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cook for five minutes, or until heated through.

Microwave Reheating Directions

The microwave is best for reheating an individual portion.

  • Pour a serving of soup in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Cover and heat for one minute.
  • Stir and check the soup temperature.
  • Heat for another 30 to 45 seconds, or until the soup is hot enough for you.

What to Serve with Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

  • Cheddar biscuits. Make cheddar biscuits with pancake mix. It is quick, easy, and ready in 25 minutes.
  • Crusty bread. Pick up a loaf of crusty bread from the bakery in your local grocery store. Spoon homemade ricotta on top. Yum!
  • Cornbread muffins. Cornbread in any form is good with soup. Make it into muffins, and you have a perfectly sized bread for the best split pea soup.

Frequently Asked Questions

bowl of split pea soup with spoons
Do spit peas need to be soaked?

Like all dried beans, soaking split peas in several cups water decreases the cooking time. Soaking them also reduces gastrointestinal symptoms that some people experience.

What happens if you don’t rinse split peas?

Rinsing split peas is not necessary. However, sorting them to remove any stones and debris is essential.

And soaking the split peas is important.

Does split pea soup make you gassy?

Some people do experience gastrointestinal symptoms when they eat split peas. However, split peas may cause less gas than other types of beans.

Not everyone experiences these symptoms. But if you do, be sure to soak the split peas before cooking and throw out the soak water to help reduce any discomfort.

How do you thicken split pea soup?

Blending some of the split peas and returning the blended peas to the soup will help thicken it.

Cooling it will also thicken it.

Add breadcrumbs to thicken the soup. Read my post on how to make breadcrumbs. You can even make breadcrumbs without a food processor.

Will pea soup thicken as it cools?

Pea soup will thicken as it cools.

bowl of split pea soup garnished with bacon

Adding a ham bone to the split pea soup recipe is so tasty. Are you a ham bone broth gal? 

If you need a whole ham for any holiday meal (like Christmas dinner), buy a ham with the bone in. It adds so much flavor to split pea soup. Beyond incredible. Try it and see if you agree.


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Yield: 8 cups

Pressure Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone

bowl of split pea soup on tray with dried split peas

Full-flavored split pea soup with ham bone is hearty, nutritious, and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker. The pressure cooker releases the flavor and nutrition from the ham bone to create a crave-worthy soup to satisfy your appetite.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dry split peas
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 cup of onions, chopped (approximately ½ medium onion)
  • ½ cup of carrots, peeled and chopped (about 2 medium)
  • ½ cup of celery, chopped (1 to 2 stalks)
  • 1 cup of potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of dry thyme
  • ½ teaspoon of dry oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of dry parsley

Instructions

    1. SORT the split peas and remove any stones or debris.
    2. SOAK the split peas in enough water to cover them by at least three inches. Soak them at least 8 hours or overnight.
    3. DRAIN and RINSE the split peas.
    4. PEEL and CHOP the onion, carrots, potato, and celery.
    5. POUR the broth into the pressure cooker container. Add the drained split peas, onion, carrots, celery, and potato.
    6. SPRINKLE in the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and parsley. Stir to combine.  
    7. ADD the ham bone. Make a well in the center of the soup and place the ham bone in the well. Top the soup with 2 bay leaves.
    8. SECURE the lid to the pressure cooker.
    9. PRESSURE COOK on high pressure for 15 minutes, or until the split peas and vegetables are soft. Manually release the pressure if you are in a hurry. Or allow the pressure to release naturally. Either method is fine.
    10. REMOVE the bay leaves and ham bone when the soup has finished cooking.  
    11. PULL OFF any ham that is falling off the bone and add the small pieces back into the soup. Use the ham bone for another recipe or discard it.
    12. STIR the soup to combine.
    13. GARNISH with ham, crumbed bacon, or crunchy croutons.

    Notes

    Total time does not include overnight soak time for the split peas.

    All images and content are © TheTastyTip.com. If you want to use this recipe and techniques, please take your own photos, write your own description, and link back to this page. Thank you.

    Nutrition Information

    Yield

    8

    Serving Size

    1

    Amount Per Serving Calories 154Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 11mgSodium 782mgCarbohydrates 26gFiber 8gSugar 5gProtein 11g

    Nutrition information is an estimate only and may vary based on individual ingredients added and cooking methods used.


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    Hungry for More Soup?

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    • Chicken chili with salsa verde. Any time of year is good for chicken chili. But especially fall and winter. Pair it with the perfect side dish for a wonderful dinner.
    • Leftover turkey soup. Use leftover turkey to make this easy 30-minute favorite turkey soup. It has turkey, potatoes, onions, garlic, leeks, celery, and fresh seasonal herbs. A true comfort food experience.
    • Butternut squash soup. Whip up this vegetarian soup and blend it in the Vitamix. Smooth and silky, but very filling. There are a good range of side dishes to serve with it.

    Kathy

    Monday 13th of December 2021

    For an alternative flavor, saute onions, then add garlic. Then add these different spices: 1 T curry and 1 tsp coriander, with 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper, 1/2-1 tsp pepper. Don't add salt, the ham and bone give you the salt! This is delicious alternative spicy split pea soup. Our family loves it!

    Tami Mack @ The Tasty Tip

    Monday 13th of December 2021

    That sounds like a delicious alternative. Thanks for sharing.

    Jesse H

    Saturday 17th of July 2021

    Could I use a beef bone instead of a ham bone? The only bones in my freezer are beef and fish...planning to make this tomorrow, sounds great!

    Tami Mack @ The Tasty Tip

    Tuesday 20th of July 2021

    Go for it! All of the ingredients go well with beef so it should be tasty. Let me know how it turns out.

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