This is the Classic Split Pea Soup loved by everyone, especially my family. Made with dried split peas and cooked with flavorful ham, split pea soup is warm, so satisfying, and great for leftovers. Split Pea Soup is the perfect hearty winter soup to serve your family as it is so easy-to-mak and so good! My family considered this soup as an all-time comfort food.
You can enjoy this soup in a smooth blended consistency or chunky. The choice is yours to make. Since we have a family member that is vegan, I have also included a vegan version of this delicious split pea soup recipe.
History of Pea Soup:
Pea soup has been eaten since early ages and it’s heartiness, high nutrition value and low-cost has made it part of the cuisine in many cultures. The soup is typically made from dried peas that vary in color from grayish-green to yellow depending on the regional variety and cooked with various root vegetables and pork to add flavor.
In Britain, “Pease” is used as the singular and plural form of the word pea. Pease pudding was a low-cost high-protein food staple and it was easy to store dried peas. Before the nineteenth century this was an ideal food for sailors to boil with salt pork, which became the origins of pea soup.
Nineteenth century literature makes several references to eating pea soup as a simple food for farmers and a sign of poverty:
In Canada, split pea soup is made with yellow peas and it very popular nationwide.
Split pea soup in Germany is also very common, containing meats such as bacon, sausage or smoked pork and served with a dark rye bread.
“Snert” is the Dutch version of pea soup. It is a thicker stew of split peas, pork and various vegetables. In the winter many outdoor food stalls will serve hot “snert” as a hearty snack along frozen canals and lakes for skaters.
In Poland pea soup is the popular food to serve in the military since it is nutritious, cheap and can be easily prepared in large quantities. It is said that military pea soup is thick enough to hold a spoon straight up.
In Sweden and Finland it became traditional to eat pea soup with pork and pancakes on Thursdays as a preparation for fasting on Fridays. Mustard is also an important part to serve with the pea soup so diners can stir it in to taste. Even the Swedish and Finnish Armed Forces have been following this Thursday tradition since World War 2.
In the United States, pea soup was introduced in New England during the 19th Century by French-Canadian millworkers. It was widely eaten in the colonial period and served as a thinner soup with pork, carrots and dried split peas.
500 to 400 BC: 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.
1765: A well-known nursery rhyme first appeared speaking of Pease porridge in Britain:
Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.
Spit Pea Soup Recipe:
Classic Split Pea Soup History and Recipe
2 to 3 carrots (1 1/2 cups), chopped
3 to 4 stalks celery (1 1/2 cups), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 pound (16-ounce) bag dried split green peas, rinsed*
1 meaty ham bone, 2 ham hocks or 2 cups diced ham
2 (32-ounce) containers chicken broth/stock**
1/2 tablespoon yellow curry, optional***
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
* Look for split peas that have a use-by date on the package and are relatively fresh; they will cook faster and better.
** Learn how easy it is to make homemade Chicken Stock - Basic Chicken Stock.
*** Be careful using curry, as a little goes a long way.
Stove Top Method:
Trim any extra fat off ham bone and discard.
In large stock pot over medium high heat, add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, split peas, ham bone, chicken broth, and seasonings.
Bring mixture just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until peas and vegetables are soft. Remofe from heat and let cool about 15 minutes before blending.
To blend or not to blend: This is an option. You can either blend all the ingredients, except the ham, until smooth, Partially blend just some of the ingredients, or not blend for a chunky version. This applies to the stove top version and also the slow cooker version. Your choice:
Split Pea Soup Chunky
Place 1 cup soup mixture in to the blender and process until texture is smooth. Pour the blended soup into a large bowl. Repeat this step until all the soup mixture is blended. Only blend 1 cup at at time since the soup mixture expands when hot and pressure can cause the top to blow off the blender. (I learned this the hard way years ago - visualize The Exorcist!)
Once all the soup is blended to your liking, pour back into pot on the stove to keep warm and add chopped ham meat; stir together.
Serve in soup bowls and enjoy. Excellent with a side of Cornbread.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Method:
Preheat the Slow Cooker (Crock Pot). Trim any extra fat off ham bone and discard.
Add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, split peas, ham bone (not the ham meat), chicken broth, and seasonings.
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours or until peas and all vegetables are tender.
Place 1 cup soup mixture in to the blender and process until texture is to your liking. Pour the blended soup into a large bowl. Repeat this step until all the soup mixture is blended. Only blend 1 cup at at time since the soup mixture expands when hot and pressure can cause the top to blow off the blender. (I learned this the hard way years ago - visualize The Exorcist!)
Once all the soup is blended to your liking, pour back into the crock pot to keep warm and add chopped ham meat; stir together.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Follow desired Stove Top or Crock Pot Method above (your choice).
Omit ham bone and ham meat.
Substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
Add 1 tablespoon liquid smoke for flavoring. Adjust spices and seasonings to taste.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Peas: History, Uses, Folklore, Growing, Nutrition, Purchasing, Preparation, Recipe: Pease Porridge Hot, Pease Porridge Cold, by Zel and Reuben Allen.
Lost Plymouth, Hidden Heritage of the Three Towns, by Felicity Goodall, 2009
Wikipedia; Pea Soup