Chunky Split Pea Soup with Ham

Written by Beth - Budget Bytes

In effort to use up some of the things stored in my freezer and pantry, I took a quick survey of what I had available. I had a left over ham hock from making Collard Greens, a bag of chopped celery and bag of chopped carrots from when I made Garden Tomato Soup. And since a nice thick and chunky split pea soup is one of my most favorite things ever, it was an easy decision. ;)

Close up of a bowl of Chunky Split Pea Soup with croutons on top

Pictured with Homemade Croutons on top!

Making it from scratch was a cinch, especially since I already had the carrots and celery chopped, ready, and waiting in the freezer. So, all I had to buy to make this split pea soup was a bag of peas and a potato. Yeah, this week’s grocery receipt was SMALL.

Can I Substitute the Ham Hock?

Yes! The ham provides a nice salty/smoky flavor the soup, but there are other types of meat that can do the same job. Bacon is an easy choice. Just brown your bacon in the pot before beginning the soup, remove it from the pot, then add it back in after the soup is finished. Smoked turkey wings also work great and can be used in the exact same manner as the ham hock.

Can I Make This Soup Vegetarian?

Yes! This soup is easy to make vegetarian. Simply swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth, swap the olive oil for coconut oil to give the soup a little more body (optional), and add about a teaspoon of smoked paprika for a hint of smoky flavor.

Freeze Some for Later!

This soup is very freezer-friendly, so if you can’t eat all six servings with about 5 days, make sure to freeze a couple of the servings for later. I like to freeze my soups in single servings, so I can quickly and easily reheat one serving at a time when needed. My favorite containers for this are the reusable blue-top Ziploc containers (affiliate link). 

Side view of a bowl of homemade chunky split pea soup with homemade croutons on top

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5 from 2 votes

Chunky Split Pea Soup

This chunky split pea soup with ham and vegetables will fill you up and warm you through on cold winter days.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Servings: 6


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.20)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.36)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.12)
  • 3 ribs celery ($0.37)
  • 3 carrots ($0.25)
  • 1 smoked ham hock ($1.40)
  • 1 lb. split peas (dry, uncooked) ($0.73)
  • 6 cups chicken broth ($0.60)
  • 1 whole bay leaf ($0.02)
  • 1 potato ($0.65)
  • salt and pepper to taste ($0.05)


  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook them in a large stock pot over medium heat with the olive oil until soft. Add the chopped carrots and celery and cook a few minutes more.
  • Add the ham hock and peas to the pot. Add the chicken broth and bay leaf to the pot. Bring the mixture up to a simmer with a lid on then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.
  • Dice the potato into small chunks, add to the pot and continue to simmer until the potato chunks are soft (about ten minutes). The peas should have completely disintegrated by this point as well. If they are still retaining their shape, continue to simmer until they are mush (see photo below).
  • Remove the bay leaf and ham hock. Transfer 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return it to the pot and mix it in with the rest of the soup. Remove the meat from the ham hock, cut it into small pieces and return it to the pot. Taste the soup and adjust salt and pepper to taste!
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Serving: 1 ServingCalories: 425.87 kcalCarbohydrates: 63.38 gProtein: 21.42 gFat: 10.9 gSodium: 452.23 mgFiber: 19.22 g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclaimer here.

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Try these other variations on split pea soup:

How to Make Split Pea Soup with Ham – Step By Step Photos

frozen celery, carrots, and ham hock in zip lock bags
I had all these frozen goodies waiting to be used in the freezer. Always label and date stuff before stashing it in the freezer. Try to use frozen food within 3 months.

onion and garlic cooking in the soup pot
Cook the chopped onion and minced garlic in olive oil until soft.

add carrots, celery to soup pot
Add the carrots and celery and cook them until they have softened (or thawed out!).

add ham hock to soup pot
Add the smoked ham hock…

dry split peas added to the soup pot
and the split peas…

Chicken broth added to the soup pot
Add 6 cups chicken broth to the pot.

Jar of better than bouillon chicken base
I use Better than Bouillon to make my broth because it’s usually a little more economical than buying cans or boxes of broth, I can make any amount that I need, and it has good flavor.

simmer split pea soup
Oh yeah, add the bay leaf too. Let the soup simmer over low heat with a lid on for an hour (make sure it’s simmering).

dice potato
Dice the potato into fairly small pieces, add to the pot and simmer until they are soft. I used a red potato because that is what looked fresh at the store. Use any kind you’d like.

mushy peas in simmered soup, being held up close to the camera on a wooden spoon
At this point, the peas should have been reduced to mush like in the picture. If they still have shape, continue to simmer the soup. Once they are all mushy, remove the bay leaf and ham hock. Place 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup in a blender and puree until thick. Return it to the pot and stir it all up. BE VERY CAREFUL WITH HOT LIQUIDS IN THE BLENDER

ham hock meat being cut off the bone
When the ham hock is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and cut it into small pieces. Return the meat to the soup and DIG IN!!

finished bowl of homemade chunky split pea soup with croutons

NOTE:If you’re not crazy about the idea of a ham hock you should get over it. No, just kidding. Well, you should because they’re delicious but if you can’t get over it you can use bacon or salt pork in it’s place. Just cook the bacon (or salt pork) down in a pot before you do anything. Drain off most of the fat if desired but leave enough to cook the onions and garlic in. Proceed with the recipe as usual then add the cooked bacon at the end! Easy and no pig knuckles involved. HA!

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