split pea soup recipe with ham hock

Split Pea Soup Recipe with Ham Hock

Nothing beats a bowl of split pea soup with ham hock when it’s cold outside. This recipe for Dutch split pea soup has ham, split peas (of course), and bacon. Add some crusty bread, or a sandwich, and you’ve got lunch.

The original recipe came from the NY Times Cookbook, but I’ve changed it a bit.  For one thing, it made up to 10 servings (which means one person would be eating soup for a very long time)!  This recipe is only for four servings. Just enough to enjoy it without feeling like you are drowning in split pea soup!

That recipe also called for celeraic (which I never have) and salt pork. Salt pork is fine, but I found it worked really well with bacon (preferably Trader Joe’s no nitrate bacon).

It also freezes well, so you can save some soup for later.

Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock and Bacon

Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 35 minutes

Category: soup

Cuisine: Eastern European

4 servings

split pea soup recipe with ham hock

Split pea soup with ham and bacon.


  • 1 cup dried green split peas
  • 32 oz. cold water
  • 2 slices diced bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small bay leaf (or half a large one)
  • 1 ham hock (or use a ham bone)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • generous grinding of pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 C chopped leek, one carrot (sliced), one frankfurter


  1. Wash the peas under cold water. Sort through them to remove any stones that may have gotten mixed in. Put in a large pot and add the water. Let stand overnight. If you're in a hurry, use my quick soaking method for the split peas.
  2. Cook the bacon in a skillet for five minutes, until browned. Add the onion (and leek or carrot if using), and cook the mixture for another 10 minutes. The vegetables should be soft.
  3. Add the vegetable/bacon mixture to the pot with the split peas. Add the bay leaf (I like to use a tea ball for this so it's easy to find again), salt and pepper to taste, and the pig's knuckle (or ham bone). Cover and bring to a boil (slowly). Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat, Let the soup simmer for two hours. If it gets too thick, add half a cup of water.
  4. Once the ham hock (or bone) is tender, remove it from the soup. Run it under cool water (so you can handle it), then shred the meat and set it aside. Throw away the bone. Fish out the bay leaf (or just remove the tea ball) and discard that too.
  5. Using a hand blender, puree the soup.
  6. If you don’t have a hand blender, use a standard blender with a towel over it. Why the towel? So the soup doesn’t fly in your face and all over the room. If you take the plastic cup out, cover the hole with a towel, and blend, the steam can escape and the soup stays put.
  7. split pea soup in blender
  8. If you’ve got the hand blender, all you have to do is immerse it in the pot and press the button. It’s easier and there’s less cleanup.
  9. Put the meat back into the soup and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve hot.


The prep time assumes you use the quick soak method for the beans.

Put the bay leaf in a tea ball so it's easier to remove.

Substitutions and Variations for Split Pea Soup Recipe with Ham Hock

  • the original recipe called for 1/2 C diced leek (great for flavor, but not something I usually have in the fridge); if you use it, reduce the amount to about 1/4C.
  • cut up a frankfurter or a chunk of keilbasa, cook it and add it to the soup
  • add a carrot for a bit of sweetness
  • top with croutons
  • cook some extra bacon, crumble it, and top the soup with it
  • add freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • add a parmesan or manchego cheese rind to the soup while it’s simmering

Soup Pots

T-fal A92279 Specialty Stockpot 8 Quart
This pot is non-stick inside and out (just the thing for split pea soup). That also makes it easy to clean. The glass lid has a vent in it, so it’s less likely to spill all over the place. It is tall though, so if you’re short, this may not be for you.

Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Covered Stockpot, 6-Quart

Stainless steel outside, with an aluminum sandwich for faster, even heating. And it’s a great value too. Great for pasta, chili, and, of course, soup.

More Split Pea Soup Recipes

Split Pea Soup  This is adapted from a Julia Child recipe

Crock Pot Split Pea Soup  A slow-cooked version of split pea soup.

Split Pea Soup with Rosemary  I confess, I never tried it with rosemary. Sounds interesting though.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup  This has dry mustard, a potato, and balsamic vinegar.

Soup Cookbooks

Recipes for some of the world’s favorite soups (and a few new ones): beef and barley, sweet potato, cucumber, and spinach with feta.

New England Soup Factory Cookbook
Your favorite soups (like beef and barley, hot and sour, and butternut squash. Plus some brand-new ones you may have never heard of – how about spinach, feta, and pine nuts? Or eggplant parmesan?


The Best Soups in the World
247 recipes gathered from around the world by a James Beard award winning cook. There’s California chilled peach soup, Tanzanian black-eyed peas and coconut soup, Chayote soup from Nicaragua, and Tuscan white bean.

Don’t be scared by the exotic names and places – he also provides lists of places to buy the ingredients at reasonable prices online (if your local store doesn’t stock them).

Sunday Soup: A Year’s Worth of Mouth-Watering, Easy-to-Make Recipes

A year of soup – arranged by season. You’ll find Sweet Potato Soup with Orange Creme Fraiche for fall and Asparagus Soup with Tarragon Cream for spring. There’s even a cold cucumber soup with salmon and dill for summer.

More Soup Recipes

Lentil Bean Sausage Soup

Red Lentil Soup with Carrots

Moroccan Chicken and Bean Soup

Image of soup in blender with towel thanks to joelk75

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