18 May 2010

Old fashioned pea soup

I am always on the lookout for delicious thrifty meals that are fairly easy to make but in winter I keep coming back to this old standby that ticks all those boxes - split pea soup.  I think it's a favourite in many families but I thought I'd write about how I make it for anyone who hasn't discovered how to cook it entirely from scratch.

The key to most good food is good ingredients and this is no exception.  I start with a ham bone, this one bought on special after Christmas for $2, then I add two small packs (500g/1lb each) of split peas (one green and one yellow) $1.40 each and whatever vegetables from the garden or fridge I fancy.  I always use onions and carrots, for this soup I also used a celeriac root.  For additional flavouring, I added bay leaves and parsley from the garden.  So altogether, this soup cost me $3.40 for the ham bone and peas, and about three dollars for the onions, carrots and celeriac.  Add the cost of water, salt and pepper and gas to cook with, say 60 cents, and I'm up to $7.  This made up about 7 litres/quarts of soup, enough for Hanno and I for many days.

Assemble your ingredients.  If you don't have celeriac, use celery, which is more traditional.  The celeriac almost disintegrates in the soup and gives it a mild celery flavour.

Chop the vegetables and herbs.  Leave the bay leaves whole.

Place the peas in a large bowl and wash them in cold water, then pour boiling water over them and leave for a while.

Place the chopped vegetables, herbs and ham bone in a large pot and fill with water. I used a large stockpot that holds about 9 litres/quarts.  Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add the peas and stir in.  Bring back to the boil and cook for about 2 hours on a slow heat.   It's ready when the meat falls off the ham bone.

 After you add the peas and boil them, you'll see scum rising to the top of the soup.  That's okay!  It's just the various starches from the peas - skim it off with your soup ladle.

The soup is ready when the meat is tender and the vegetables cooked to your liking.  Personally, I like the vegetables to be mushy.  Let the soup cook a little, remove the ham bone and take the meat off the bone, chop it into pieces and return to the soup.  Remove the bay leaves.

This soup doesn't need pre-made stock, it makes its own stock as it cooks.  Add your seasoning right at the end.  Pork tends to need a fair bit of salt and pepper and although I add pepper, I don't add salt to the soup pot.  Hanno has high blood pressure so salt is a no no for him.  I add my own salt to my dish.  I do add croutons that I make just before serving by brushing two slices of bread with virgin olive oil .  I then cut the slices into small cubes and dry fry in a frying pan.  Another useful addition to bulk the soup out is to add smoked sausage/frankfurts cut into disks.  When served with a dessert of fruit and yoghurt or custard, we find this is a satisfying and warming dish that we both enjoy.

This is one of those soups that tastes better each day when you reheat it, but it also freezesd very well.


  1. This recipe sounds delicious, I love pea soup, I make it a little the same but never added celery, or yellow split peas. I am going to try it this week. I just love pea soup and I bet this way is yummy. Thanks, I just love your blog. I have been reading it everyday, I am really Down to Earth hooked. xoxox

  2. Yum. This is a great crockpot dish. I have used sliced smoked sausages when I didn't have any ham bone and I've also used bacon. (I buy big bags of bacon scraps and freeze them in handful-size portions.) Of course, it's coming on summer here, on the other side of the globe (in New Mexico, USA) but this is a particular fave in autumn. Combined with a loaf of warm home-baked bread -- divine. But I like your croutons idea and will try them next time.


  3. Yummy soup. I must try your recipe. We love soup. Here's a simple favorite of ours. I bet you ave all the ingredients handy. :-)


  4. Yum! I love split pea soup, and yours looks delicious. My husband can't stand it--ate too much of it as a child--but maybe I will try your recipe and use it for lunches for me and the kids. Thanks!

  5. Mmmm I love split pea soup. My grandma always added a can of creamed corn right at the end. It adds a very nice flavor to the soup!

  6. I always make this in my slow cooker. Its wonderful. Also the big supermarkets (down here in Sydney anyway) are charging a lot of money for ham bones. I picked up a ham bone packaged by "Bertolli" the other day and it cost over $11, yes eleven dollars!! I put it back on the shelf and got a left over bone of the same size from the butcher next door. It cost $1.

  7. Yum,this looks mouthwatering Rhonda.

  8. How timely! You reminded me of my own supply of bacon bones, awaiting. I have now prepared my pea and ham soup and it will cook in my slow cooker for several hours. It's a wonderful dish. Yours looks delicious!
    Tracy (Brisbane)

  9. This soup plus about 3 others are winter standbys at our place. We love soup.
    Another really thrifty soup is if you have slurged out on a BBQ chicken dont throw away the carcas. Use it as a base for a chicken and veg soup you will be surprised how tasty it is. I just take all the skin off and any stuffing out and throw that away then add a can of creamed corn, onion ,what ever vegies you've got cover with water salt and pepper it and simmer for a couple of hours. About halfway through add a handful of pasta or rice. The left over chicken will fall off the bones.
    This makes a very tasty soup out of something you might normally throw away.

  10. It looks delicious, even here in France where we're don the doorstep to summer. I can eat a good soup any day of the year...it is a comfort thing, I suppose.

  11. I've never made ham and pea soup, which sounds lovely. At this very moment I have carrot soup on the simmer :-)

  12. I make a similar soup, but as I'm vegetarian, I omit the ham bone, and add a handful of mung dahl...similar to yellow split peas, but finer and smaller...and a few sticks of a dried seaweed, wakame or arame, whatever I have in the fridge. It gives a delicious flavour, and boosts the protein value of the legumes.

    I also add chopped spinach/silver beet stalks....I usually have a bag of these, as the chooks only eat the leaves, and I hate to just compost those flavoursome stalks.

  13. Hi Rhonda, I made a vat of this yesterday and am looking forward to it for lunch today, it's cool and rainy(!!!) here. I pre-soak the peas but it's not necessary as you say. Bacon bones are usually quite cheap for those who don't have a ham bone to hand.

  14. Vanessa SchenkMay 18, 2010 10:28 am

    I just bought a packet of bacon bones yesterday, so now I am going to try your version of pea soup!! Sounds so yummy :o)

  15. Hi Rhonda,

    I too, make this delicious soup and now the weather is getting cooler its such a good time for hearty soups.

    Blessings Gail

  16. I don't have very fond memories of pea soup. My grandpa made it when I was a child and it was always blah. But yours actually looks pretty tasty!

  17. Dear Rhonda Jean,
    I'll bet your soup tastes as great as it looks. I can almost smell the aroma and feel a soothing calm coming over me.
    This is the kind of simple comfort food we had growing up as youngest of eight and later as mom of four. I shall make it for the grandkids.
    I see it is getting cooler where you are. Your garden keeps on going every season and I think that is just great. My son made me a garden spot for Mother's Day. It has been several years since I have been allowed to garden due to health reasons, but, I am so looking forward to picking ripe tomatoes and peppers.
    Thanks for continuing to write your words of wisdom and share your life, it does mean so much to me.


  18. I've never made pea soup. It was one of those things I said YUCK to when I was a kid. I'm re-thinkin' that now that I've seen your recipe. Looks like it'd sure stick to your ribs and fill you up!

    I think I need to try pea soup again and see if 40 some-odd years makes a difference in my taste!

  19. Pea & ham soup: Reminds me of my childhood and time spent at my great-grandmother's house. Her kitchen always smelt like pea and ham soup.

  20. Thank you so much for making our home smell like my mother's home. I have your pea and ham soup recipe simmering on the stove and it smells divine. I've wanted to make this soup for years, and your recipe was so simple, thanks again, Sonya

  21. Hello,
    My name is May-Lisbeth, I live in Norway and I enjoy reading your blog every day.
    I make our peasoup almost the same way as you do, but I try to save the electricity. When everything has started boiling in the pot, I put the pot in the owen. It must stay there for several hours,but the soup just needs to be reheated befor you serve it.
    I do the same thing whith rice for puddings or porridge.
    My grandmother used what she called a "cooking box". She put the pot in a box that was insulated with newspaper. The box was then covered with old quilts or woolblankets. This way you can start your dinnerpreparations in the morning and it is ready when you need it in the afternoon.

    PS. We enjoy our soup with swedish "knekkebrød" or homemade bread.

  22. I always start my pea soup by softening the carrots, celery and onions in a little butter or olive oil. Then I add a little celery seeds and dill seeds and give them a minute to release their flavors before everything else goes in. Yumm! I think I need to make some soon. (I always make a huge pot and put some in the freezer for those busy days when there is no time to cook.)

    Barbara M.

  23. Several people have mentioned "bacon bones"--what is that? I've never heard of it (USA)

  24. Yum
    I love yellow split pea soup. I make it with salted lamb and it´s to die for. But even here in Iceland it´s winter food. It´s on the top 10 comfort food list....

  25. Rhonda - This is exactly how my mum used to make pea soup (one of the two soups she make and froze each year) and probably still does! I don't like ham and have never made it myself. I have recently omitted most meats from my diet so I'm glad Nanette posted what she does to make it vegetarian! I shall try it with Nanette's suggestions.
    Thank you!
    Larissa Central Wheatbelt WA

  26. I shouldn't have read this last thing at night when my evening meal is just a dim memory - your soup looks so good it made my mouth water!!! I shall copy out the recipe and give it a trial when we have a cold spell. It's a real rib-sticker by the look of it!

  27. Pea & ham soup is great! I use Stephanie Alexander's recipe from the cook's companion. It's basically a ham hock, split peas, onion, carrot, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and cold water. So incredibly simple yet delicious!

  28. I'm so excited to be on Google Friend Connect finally..it makes posting to great blogs such as this one so much easier :) :) My father LOVES split pea soup. This recipe looks very easy to make, even for me :) :):)
    I'm happily looking forward to more posts:) :) :) Have a lovely day. It's Tuesday afternoon here. So I'm guessing it's Wednesday in Australia? Greetings and lots of sunshine from Oregon :)

  29. I think I'm going to try making some split pea soup. I cooked the green ones the other day for the first time. My 7yr old asked me to purchase it at the store and it took me several weeks before I got the courage to cook it. It tasted really good without any salt at all. I was pleasantly surprised. Now reading this recipe I'm going to use both colours and make some soup. Thanks for triggering the idea.

  30. Hi..just a thought when it comes to cooking in a slow cooker..do you still skim the scum off the top? I always thought with crock pots that once you put on the lid you pretty much forgetaboutit!?


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