Creamy Split Pea Soup


Pea soup or split pea soup is soup made typically from dried peas, such as the split pea. It is, with variations, a part of the cuisine of many cultures. It is greyish-green or yellow in color depending on the regional variety of peas used.

Pea soup has been eaten since antiquity; it is mentioned in Aristophanes’ The Birds, and according to one source “the Greeks and Romans were cultivating this legume about 500 to 400 BC. During that era, vendors in the streets of Athens were selling hot pea soup.

Eating fresh “garden” peas before they were matured was a luxurious innovation of the Early Modern period: by contrast with the coarse, traditional peasant fare of pease pottage, Potage Saint-Germain, made of fresh peas and other fresh greens braised in light stock and pureed, was an innovation sufficiently refined that it could be served to Louis XIV of France, for whose court at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye it was named, ca 1660-80.


In the United States, pea soup is merely one of many familiar kinds of soup. “Pea soup” without qualification usually means a perfectly smooth puree. “Split Pea Soup” is a slightly thinner soup with visible peas, pieces of ham or other pork, and vegetables (most commonly carrots) and is usually made from dried, green split peas.

The dish is perhaps most popular in New England, where it was introduced by French-Canadian millworkers in the 19th century. It was also widely eaten in the colonial period, having been brought to New England as part of the English food tradition of the early settlers.


Many cookbooks contain a recipe or two, and pea soup is especially popular in the Northeast, the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. It does however play a role in the light-hearted tradition of serving green-colored foods on St. Patrick’s Day. For example, a 1919 Boston Globe article suggests a suitable menu for “A St. Patrick’s Day Dinner” leading off with “Cream of Green Pea Soup (American Style),” and continuing with codfish croquettes with green pea sauce, lettuce salad, pistachio ice cream, and “green decorated cake.”

While there are many different ways to make split pea soup, a standard recipe will call for dried green split peas, vegetables like onions, carrots and celery, herbs that may include garlic, thyme, bay leaves, parsley and marjoram, ham hocks, bacon or sausage, and salt and pepper.  The peas should be simmered in water with the vegetables, herbs and ham hocks or other meat until they are soft, between 1 and 2 hours if the peas were not soaked, and 40 minutes to an hour if the peas were soaked. At this point the split pea soup can be pureed if desired and seasoned with salt and pepper. Split pea soup should be served when very hot to avoid lumping. Common accompaniments for split pea soup include ham or sausage and warm bread.

1.  About Split Pea Soup.  Retrieved April 20, 2014.
2.  Pea Soup.  Retrieved April 20, 2014
3.  Peas Photo.  Retrieved April 20, 2014
8-10 Cups of Beef Broth
1 Cup of Cut up Ham
1  1/2 Cup of Cut up Carrots
1- 1  1/2 Cup of Cut up Potatoes
1/2 Cup of Celery (optional)
1/2 Cup of Onions (I used purple and leeks for this recipe, but any kind will do)
1/4 Cup of Fresh Parsley
1 Cup of Half and Half  
1 Package of Dried Green Peas
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Croutons and Fried Dried Onions to Garnish
How to make split pea soup:

1.  Prepare your beef brooth, or buy store made one…up to you.  I have step by step instructions for the chicken broth if you need help, just substitute the meat.   Click here for step by step instructions.



2.  Take out your pack of dried green split peas, I used the whole pack and did a quick soaking method listed on the package.   This means adding water about 2 inches higher then peas and letting it boil for 15 minutes.  Then without draining the water, letting it stand for additional hour to soften up.



3.  Wash and cut up your carrots.  I used about 1 1/2 cups of cut up baby carrots.


4.  Then cube your potatoes to make about 1 1/2 cups, you can also put more or less…to adjust to your taste or eliminate altogether.  I used two potatoes for my soup.


5.  Cut up your onions.  I had some purple onions this time, but any white or yellow onions will do.  I also had some leeks left over and cut them up as well.



6.  You can also add other ingredients to this soup like celery, broccoli or other veggies.  I also chopped some left over parsley for this version.


7.  Then slightly fry your onions.  You don’t really have to do it…but since I used leeks and purple onions they are better slightly cooked.  If you are using regular vidalia or sweet onions…you can skip this step.


8.  Cut up your ham.  Most original split pea soup recipes are made with ham, it just really makes this soup tastes so much better.  Any time of ham will do.  I had some thin slices of black forest ham cut up, and it worked really well.  I also like to slightly fry the ham a little bit before adding it to soup, but you don’t have to…this is totally optional.



9.  Take out your soaked split peas and drain all the water.  My peas were still a little hard, that is because I was in the rush and didn’t let it soak for the whole hour.  The soup still turned out to be really good, but if you have more time…definitely let it soak a little more or even overnight.


10.  I cooked my soup in my Crock Pot, but it you don’t have it you can just totally do it in regular pot.  In this case I will give you both instructions…and choose which ever method you prefer.

a.  If you are using crock pot, simply add all your ingredients including peas in a crock pot and pour about 8-10 cups of your beef broth on top of it.  If you want it thicker texture of your soup use less broth…but keep in mind the soup will thicken up dramatically on the next day because the peas will absorb more broth.  To cook it simply set up your crock pot on a Soup Setting and cook it for 40 minutes.

b.  If you are doing the regular pot method, then add your peas first to your hot broth, let it simmer for 20-30 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and cook for additional 20 minutes or until your potatoes and carrots are cooked.


11.  As I mentioned earlier you can also vary the ingredients you put inside your soup.  This version below was done with white onions, celery, cubed canadian bacon and with chicken based stock.



12.  Once your soup is cooked there also different methods you can use how to serve it.  In the version below…I used immersion blender to blend the soup first then added some half and half to make it creamy and mixed it all up.  I served it with store bought crispy salty fried onions, bread croutons and fresh basil.  You can also serve this soup plain as it it without blending it or adding cream.


13.  This version of  soup was garnished with bread croutons, cut up ham and some parmesan cheese and garnished with fresh parsley.


14.  On the photo below I served it with crispy fried onions, diced up scallions, cut up ham and bread sticks.


I hope you will enjoy this recipe, also please feel free to share your versions of this soup.




  1. Looks Delicious!

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