Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Slow cooker split pea soup with ham is traditional winter comfort food made easy. Just toss everything in a Crock pot and walk away. You’re welcome.

Split Pea Soup

This slow cooker split pea soup is a creamy bowl of traditional winter comfort food. The soup features all the hearty, stick-to-your-ribs goodness of classic split pea soup, including ham, but with the added boon that you simply toss everything in Crock pot and walk away. All that’s left to do is accept the dinnertime hero award. [Editor’s Note: No slow cooker? No problem. Check out the stovetop instructions beneath the recipe.] Originally published March 23, 2017.Angie Zoobkoff

Special Equipment: Slow cooker

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

  • Quick Glance
  • 50 M
  • 10 H, 50 M
  • Serves 8 to 12
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups (400 g) green split peas, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 1 1/2 pounds or 675 g)
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped (about 300 g)
  • 2 carrots, diced (about 150 g)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about 100 g)
  • 2 to 4 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 8 cups (1.9 l) cold water
  • Leaves from 3 or 4 fresh thyme sprigs, minced
  • 1 cup (134 g) frozen green peas, thawed (about 1/4 of a 10-ounce package)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vinegar, such as rice wine or sherry or apple cider or even plain old distilled vinegar, plus more to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste

Directions

  • 1. Dump the split peas in your slow cooker and nestle the ham hock into the split peas. Pile in the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and then tuck in the bay leaves. Season with pepper and pour the water over the top.
  • 2. Set your slow cooker to low and walk away for about 10 hours. When the soup is done, it will be thick and creamy and the split peas should be soft and broken down. If the split peas still seem pretty firm, crank your slow cooker to high and check it every hour or so until the peas soften.
  • 3. Fish out the bay leaves and discard them. Remove the ham hock and place it on a plate until it’s cool enough to handle. Discard the skin, bones, and any cartilage. Shred the ham.
  • 4. If desired, use an immersion blender to purée the soup to the desired consistency. Stir in the shredded ham, thyme, frozen peas, and vinegar. Continue to cook on low until the frozen peas are heated through, about 15 minutes. Taste and add up to 1 teaspoon salt, depending on how salty your ham hock. (Don’t be shy with the salt. It really brings out the flavor of the soup. Trust us.)
  • 5. Ladle the soup into bowls right away or let it cool and cover and refrigerate it for up to several days and be amazed at how much richer the soup tastes after the flavors have a chance to meld. (Alternately, you can portion the soup into individual resealable plastic bags or containers and toss them in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

HOW TO MAKE THIS SPLIT PEA SOUP ON THE STOVETOP

  • No slow cooker? No problem! Follow the first step of the recipe, using a Dutch oven in place of a slow cooker. Cover and bring the soup to a gentle boil on the stove while your oven preheats to 325°F (163°C). Slide the Dutch oven into the oven and let it cook for about 2 1/4 hours. You may want to give the soup a stir at about the 1-hour mark. The soup is ready when the split peas have broken down, making the soup creamy and rich while at the same time resembling something in between a soup and a stew. Remove the pot from the oven continue with the above recipe at step 3 and, in step 4, simply finish the soup on the stovetop as opposed to the slow cooker.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

Who doesn't like soup? This slow cooker split pea soup was perfect for a cold winter afternoon alongside some crusty bread. You can easily plan ahead and make this to reheat whenever needed. I chopped the vegetables and threw in all the ingredients the night before, turned the slow cooker to low, and woke up to the wonderful aroma of soup brewing downstairs. Altogether it only took 40 minutes—or less—for me to assemble everything and then I let it cook for 10 hours while I slept and dreamt of soup. You probably could leave it in for an hour or two less if you’re short on time. Just make sure your slow cooker can hold at least 5 liters as the recipe makes quite a bit of soup. You could easily halve the recipe if desired. It made more than enough for my family of 5—we had almost half the batch left over. I used rice wine vinegar but I think any type of vinegar would work fine as long as you don't mind it discoloring the soup a tiny bit if using a dark colored vinegar. Be generous with the pepper. I found that I had to add more than imagined. I also added about 1 tsp of sea salt, which helped the flavor immensely. I kept the ham skin, contrary to what the recipe suggested. I chopped it up and put it back in the soup along with the meat. If you don't like the texture, do as the recipe says and leave it out.

We really LOVED this slow cooker split pea soup round here. It couldn't be easier to prepare and the payoff was wonderful. Not only is the soup tasty, just like Mother used to make, but having it cook for nearly half a day filled our home with incredible scents, transporting me back to my childhood. I used a simple distilled white vinegar but you could use nearly any vinegar that suits your fancy. I found the finished product, although delicious and classic, to be in need of salt. Being FAR too lazy to walk 10 paces for the shaker, I merely tipped a bit of soy sauce into my bowl. My wife, feeling adventurous, added some Sriracha and was quite pleased with the result. We enjoyed 2 FAT bowls on the first evening and had enough left over not only for lunch the next afternoon but we were able to freeze at least 3 or four bowls for a nice warm-me-up in the near future. I nearly forgot to mention that I found the late addition of frozen peas to be a stroke of genius, adding some flavor and a nice amount of texture. Make this soup, you'll LOVE it!

This slow cooker split pea soup pleased everyone who tasted it. It was indeed cooked after being in the slow cooker, on low, for 10 hours. At that point, the meat fell off the smoked ham hock when I pulled it out of the pot. Sherry vinegar was my vinegar of choice. I didn’t get a chance to measure how much soup came out of the slow cooker. Ladles of the soup were quickly dug into and bowls were eaten even though we were going to be eating dinner in a relatively short period of time. A friend requested some Parmesan cheese for the soup. I was very skeptical, but I must admit, it really improved the soup, and that was how the rest of us chose to eat it too. This made a lot of soup. I would say that it could feed 10 to 12 people. Serve some warm, crusty bread, or perhaps some garlic bread on the side to dip into the soup. I recommend making this soup a day or two before you want to eat it. It thickens up beautifully and the flavors improve greatly.

I don't have a slow cooker—you know, living in a NYC apartment and all—but there are some tried and true ways to cook slow and low for those of us that are small appliance challenged. The method involves slow cooking it in a Dutch oven at a relatively low temperature to simulate slow cooking. The cooking time is much shorter than a slow cooker and you can't leave it while you’re away at work but I love the results nonetheless. Otherwise, I followed the directions exactly for the recipe in terms of layering in the peas and vegetables and ham hock. I also used the same volume of water. Once everything was in the pot, I got the ingredient to a low boil on the stove and then transferred the covered Dutch oven to a 325°F (163°C) oven for 2 1/4 hours. I pulled the pot out once, at the 1-hour mark, to check the water volume and rate of simmer. I gave the soup a quick stir and returned it to the oven for the remaining 1 1/4 hours undisturbed. I knew the soup was ready because the split peas had broken down quite a bit, making the soup creamy and rich while at the same time resembling something in between a soup and a stew. I pulled the pot from the oven and transferred the ham to a plate to cool so I could shred it. I finished up the recipe on the stovetop over low heat with a splash of red wine vinegar and the rest of the ingredients. Personally I think you can double the vinegar to add a bit more balance to the sweet peas. The soup thickened as it stood in wait for the cooling ham so I added another 1/2 cup of water to thin the soup down a bit.

Other than the fact that the recipe was a little slower than expected, this slow cooker split pea soup was a winner. I followed the instructions and added my ingredients to the slow cooker, set on low, before I went to bed and awakened to lovely smells, but barely cooked split peas and vegetables 10 hours later. This could have been because it was the COLDEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR at -10°F and my 19th century house was cold or it could have been that my slow cooker is an el-cheapo CrockPot that I bought for $15 at Ocean State Job Lot. Easily fixed. I cranked the pot to high and the soup was ready 3 hours later. I loved the additions of the vinegar (I used Bragg's apple cider vinegar), thyme and frozen peas. The resulting soup is bright and fresh flavored and the recipe made plenty for several meals. I will freeze some for another cold day!

Comments

  1. Made this tonight to sate my split pea soup craving here in cold wintry Adelaide, South Australia. Absolutely fantastic and I followed the recipe as written! Thank you. :)

  2. Yum, this looks delicious. we don’t use ham in our house but I was wondering if I could substitute with same weight of smoked turkey leg, or (as I read online…) 1 tbl of smoked sea salt per pound of ham called for in recipe? (Sorry, I know this won’t be a perfect substitution but do you think it might reasonably work?) Thanks!

  3. I made this soup in the crock pot using a smoked ham and following the directions exactly. As pea soup with ham goes, it’s VERY VERY GOOD, and the aroma that fills your kitchen while this is cooking is great! I served it with some fresh hot French rolls I baked and some wine! As with all soups, so much better to put it into the refrigerator overnight, the flavor always improves. I used the immersion blender and blended some of the soup before I added the frozen petite peas. When I served it, my husband said, “Finally, I’ve been smelling this for two days!

    This is a lovely Fall or Winter meal.

    But there’s a story here! With me, there’s always a story! I acquired this ham and had to make pea soup!

    We were visiting our daughter and her family. Our son-in-law had tried out his new smoker, and said, “It didn’t work out because Vanessa bought the wrong kind of meat.” She bought a ‘smoked ham,’ and that’s not right because it’s already smoked!” He smoked it and then felt it was double smoked. The ham turned out way too salty. They were of the mindset that double smoking it made it too salty. “Mom do you want the bone and some ham for pea soup?”

    By the end of the conversation, it was evident that if I didn’t take the ham, it was going into the trash bin! They had enough of it and deemed it was “way too salty.” They knew I would take it; they had me at “trash bin!” I cannot see anything wasted. I took what was left from the ham and googled remedies for: “my ham is too salty.” Following directions, I put the ham into a pan, covered it with 2 bottles of Sierra Mist soda, and put it into the fridge to soak overnight. The next day I rinsed it in cold water, no salty taste. IT WORKED! Perfectly good ham, and no waste! That’s the way we Yankees do it! So that’s why I suddenly had a ham and had to do something with it. I also had some extra ham left for sandwiches.

    End of story.

    Blue bowl of slow-cooker pea soup, plate of two rolls, bottle of wine on a table

    1. Lorna, that’s quite a story…and quite a lovely bowl of pea soup! Glad you saved the ham and thanks for the tip. (Although, smoking doesn’t make food saltier, so not sure where the kids were coming from…?!)

  4. Mom and I share custody of my slow cooker. It lives at her house most of the time. And she likes to keep portions of soup in the freezer for nights when she doesn’t feel like cooking. And we both love split-pea soup. So I sent this recipe to her. She made it mostly as written the first time (she subbed dried thyme for fresh and used smoked pork chops instead of ham hock, which she finds too greasy) and it was really tasty. She’s made it many times since and has tinkered with it so now she makes it on the stove (exclusively; no oven step for her), nixes the fresh peas (we prefer the smooth texture of blended soup), uses both smoked pork chop and smoked sausage, and adds a glop of chicken base to give it a little extra oomph. I’m having a bowlful for breakfast as I type this! In June. We are year-round pea soup enjoyers.

    1. Love everything about this, Beth. I can’t decide my favorite part, whether you and your mom share your slow cooker or that you (like me) belly up to a bowl of soup for breakfast! Thank you so very much for taking the time to give us a glimpse at how you both have come to love this soup. Looking forward to the next slow cooker recipe that you try…!

      1. We certainly don’t feel constrained by “breakfast” foods. Food’s food. Yesterday, we had leftover barbecued ribs, mashed potatoes, and salad.

  5. Made this today with one little substitution…I had to add some of those little lentils as I had not enough split peas. I love my Crock pots (yes, I said pots, haha. I have 3—-medium, big and bigger–and they are all well loved). I served this with an Asiago bread and zero leftovers!!

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