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 Crockpot 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.]

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Our testers love the ease of being able to make this creamy, comforting split pea and ham soup in the slow cooker, and were delighted to discover that not only does this soup freeze beautifully, but the flavor also improves with time, making it a perfect make-ahead meal.

What You’ll Need to Make This

  • Split peas–Green split peas are the most popular variety, but you can use yellow ones if you prefer.
  • Ham hock–A smoked ham hock adds flavor and shreddable meat after its long slow cook, however, if you have leftover ham and a ham bone on hand from your holiday ham, you can simply use the bone for cooking the soup and stir in the chopped or shredded leftover ham in step 4.
  • Frozen green peas–Fresh will work here too, but frozen tends to be more readily available and economical.
  • Vinegar–Use whatever vinegar you have on hand. Our testers found even plain white vinegar added a pleasant tang to the soup.

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Dump the split peas, ham hock, vegetables, and water into the slow cooker. Combine the split peas, ham hock, vegetables, and bay leaves in the Crockpot. Season with pepper and pour the water over.
  2. Cook the soup on low heat. Set the slow cooker to low and let it burble away for 10 hours.
  3. Shred the ham. Remove the bay leaves and ham hock from the soup. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat. Discard the bay leaves, ham hock bone, skin, and cartilage.
  4. Blend the soup. Use an immersion blender to blitz the soup to your desired consistency. Add the shredded ham, thyme, frozen peas, and vinegar, and cook until heated through, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  5. Serve. Ladle the soup into bowls, or let it cool and stash it in the fridge or freeze it for future meals.

Common Questions

I don’t have a slow cooker. Can I make this without one?

Yes, definitely. 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.

Can you freeze split pea soup?

Absolutely. Split pea soup freezes beautifully, and it’s always nice to have a stash of comfort food in your freezer. Let the soup cool completely, then portion it into sealed containers and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Do I need to soak split peas?

Nope. They’ll break down as the soup cooks and don’t require any soaking.

What should I serve with this soup?

A good loaf of bread or a basket of savory biscuits is all that you need alongside this soup. Try this spicy tomato focaccia or Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Olive Bread.

Helpful Tips

  • Be careful when blending hot soups. They can splatter and burn you.
  • If you find that your soup is too thick, thin it with more water, chicken stock, or vegetable broth.
  • To get ahead, prep all your vegetables the night before cooking so that you can simply toss everything into the slow cooker in the morning and walk away.

More Great Slow Cooker Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

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!

A white bowl filled with slow cooker split pea soup on a napkin.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

4.91 / 11 votes
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.
David Leite
Servings8 to 12 servings
Calories198 kcal
Prep Time50 minutes
Cook Time10 hours
Total Time10 hours 50 minutes


  • Slow cooker


  • 2 cups green split peas, rinsed and picked over
  • One (1 1/2-pound) smoked ham hock
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 2 to 4 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 8 cups cold water
  • Leaves from 3 or 4 fresh thyme sprigs, minced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, such as rice wine or sherry or apple cider or even plain old distilled vinegar, plus more to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.)


  1. Use leftover ham–If you’ve got some leftover ham and a ham bone on hand, it will work well in place of the ham hock. Add the bone to the soup while it cooks, then stir in the chopped or shredded ham in step 4.
  2. Get ahead–Chop all your vegetables the night before making this soup so you can toss everything into the slow cooker the next morning and walk away.
  3. Thinning the soup–If the soup is too thick, thin with more water, chicken stock, or vegetable broth.
  4. Storage–The soup will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days (and even improves with time!) or can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Make Ahead Meals Cookbook

Adapted From

Make Ahead Meals

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 198 kcalCarbohydrates: 36 gProtein: 14 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 1 mgSodium: 33 mgFiber: 14 gSugar: 6 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Michael Smith. Photo © 2015 Ryan Szulc. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

We really LOVED this slow cooker split pea soup around 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!

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.

This Crockpot split pea soup recipe 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 Ukrainian 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 split pea soup 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!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Perfect as written, and I’m usually a recipe-tweaker. No need to change a thing. Subtle flavors that work incredibly well together. I made this on Friday for a Saturday Halloween dinner and glad I waited the extra day as so many have recommended.

  2. 5 stars
    G’day from Perth, Western Australia! Made this last night and woke to the most delectable aromas in the morning. Perfect with a crusty sour dough loaf on this cold wintery Perth night with the rain falling and fire raging! Love the site, the recipes and the fact you also have the metric option for us down under 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Dean. Split pea soup is indeed perfect for a cold winter night, and we’re so glad you loved it. Can’t wait to hear what you try next!