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Perfect Split Pea 'n Ham Soup

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“Originally a grandmother's recipe in a San Francisco newspaper, I've modified this a bit to make it even easier and better. It's the best pea soup I've ever eaten, offering big flavor where many pea soups are just too bland. It takes some time, but almost all is unattended. Enjoy it on a chilly night, and for several more days afterward! Delicious right off the stove, or make-ahead. (This soup thickens a lot when chilled, but "melts" on reheating. You can add a little water if needed.)”
3hrs 30mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 3 cups split peas (green, yellow, or a mixture)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, crushed (or use 4 tsp. chopped from a jar)
  • 2 -3 carrots, peeled and chopped (or chop 15-20 baby carrots)
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10 cups chicken broth (or sub. up to half with water)
  • 1 slice baked ham (sold in vacuum pack as "ham steak," or leftover if you have it)
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 pinch thyme (optional)


  1. Rinse peas well in a strainer or colander.
  2. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot, and saute onions, carrots and celery over medium heat until lightly browned. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over all.
  3. Add the crushed garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Keeping heat the same, add the broth and peas. Scrape bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits and stir to mix everything up.
  5. Trim all visible fat from the ham and add ham to the pot. It's fine if it breaks into a few chunks, but they need to be large enough to pick out later.
  6. When soup comes to a light boil, use a wad of paper towels to dab any whitish foam off the surface.
  7. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2-3 hours. About an hour in, use tongs to pull out all the ham and either chop into bite-sized pieces or snip with kitchen scissors right over the pot. Now is also a great time to taste for seasoning; you may need to add nothing at all, but see Ingredients for ideas.
  8. If you like, blend some or all of the soup with a regular blender (more trouble) or immersion blender (zero trouble).

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