Let’s be honest. Split Pea & Ham Soup is never pretty. It’s color is reminiscent of baby food and just by the visual, doesn’t seem super appetizing.
But once you dive into that deep green bowl, life begins. There is SO much flavor in this soup with the chunks of salty ham, the earthy richness from the stock, bay leaves and thyme sprigs, the creaminess from just a bit of heavy whipping cream, the balanced flavors from that touch of bright acidity from the lemon, and the slight hint of spice from the cayenne (which is totally optional, but gives such depth). Plus, the split peas are actually kinda cute (before they’re cooked)? In a weird way?
How to make split pea & ham soup in the Instant Pot!
I think we can all agree that the Instant Pot is a magical thing because you can make delicious things in a fraction of the time. Hey-oooo.
- Step 1: Set the Instant Pot to saute. I love that the Instant Pot has this option because you can get a good sear on meat or saute veggies before adding any liquids which gives the soup loads of FLAVOR! Add the oil, then saute the onion, carrots and celery until soft. Then, add the garlic, split peas, ham and seasonings.
- Step 2: Add the stock, fresh thyme sprigs and bay leaves. You can use dried thyme leaves, but I’d suggest using about 1/2 teaspoon because it is a pretty strong herb and dried herbs are super concentrated.
- Step 3: Secure the lid on the Instant Pot with the toggle set to sealed. Set on high pressure for 12 minutes (generally split peas take up to an hour to cook!). When the timer goes off, use a wooden spoon to push the toggle to venting to release the steam. Carefully remove the lid, then use tongs to remove the leaves and thyme sprigs – discard.
- Step 4: To make this soup extra fabulous, stir in cream, lemon zest and juice and cayenne. A big of cream or half and half gives it so much creaminess (and you only need a tablespoon to achieve this!), the lemon zest and juice gives the soup a bit of acidic ZING and just a dash of cayenne for a tiny tiny bit of heat that really just takes this soup from good to freaking amazing.
- Step 5: Always, always, always taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Every single time I cook I have to adjust the salt and other ingredients like the lemon juice. It’s just how cooking works. If it is lacking a little flavor or pizazz, give it a pinch more salt and a bit more acid and I bet that’ll do the trick.
- Also, how amazing is it that the Instant Pot can make split pea soup in JUST 12 MINUTES?!?! I digress…
How to make split pea & ham soup on the stove-top
But, if you don’t have an Instant Pot, this soup can be made on the stove and is equally delicious.
- Step 1: Heat the oil in a stock pot to medium heat. I like to use my Lodge Dutch Oven (affiliate link) because it’s heavy duty, beautiful and versatile. Add the onion, carrots and celery and saute 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ham and saute 2-3 minutes or until the ham is browned and crispy on the edges (YUM). Stir in the split peas, salt, black pepper and cayenne (you can also add this at the end).
- Step 2: Add the stock (you need a bit more when making it on the stove), thyme sprigs and bay leaves, place the lid on top, stir occasionally, and cook until the the split peas are soft. Use tongs to remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves – discard.
- Step 3: Stir in the lemon zest and juice and cream. Follow the last step of the Instant Pot directions which is to taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary (this is always important!!). It may need another sprinkle of salt or some more lemon, ya never know.
This soup is just absolutely fantastic, and I promise it’ll become your new go-to for split pea and ham.
If you just jump past the not-so-pleasant green color of the soup and dive in, you won’t regret it.
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Instant Pot Split Pea & Ham Soup
Old-fashioned split pea and ham soup made quick in the Instant Pot.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 20 min
- Total Time: 35 min
- Yield: Serves 8 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: American
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 medium stalks celery, diced
- 1 ½ cups diced smoked ham
- 4–5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 ½ cups dried split peas
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
- 4 ½ cups unsalted chicken or vegetable stock
- 3–4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Zest and juice of ½ medium lemon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Stove Top Directions:
- Heat oil in a stock pot to medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté 4-5 minutes. Stir in garlic and ham and sauté 2-3 more minutes, until ham is lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in split peas, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
- Add 5 ½ cups stock, fresh thyme and bay leaves and bring to a low simmer. Cook 50-60 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until split peas are soft. Use tongs to remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and discard.
- Stir in lemon zest and juice and cream. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Instant Pot Directions:
- Set Instant Pot to sauté. Add oil, onion, carrots and celery and sauté 4-5 minutes or until slightly soft, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic. Stir in the split peas, ham, salt, black pepper and 4 ½ cups stock. Place thyme and bay leaves on top.
- Secure lid on the Instant Pot with toggle on sealed. Set on high pressure for 12 minutes. When complete, carefully use a wooden spoon to push toggle to venting to release the steam. Carefully remove hte lid. Use tongs to remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and discard.
- Stir in cream, lemon zest and juice and cayenne. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Cooking Tip: Saute the ham in the stock pot before cooking the soup for crispy edges.
- Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
- Calories: 185
- Sugar: 5g
- Sodium: 523mg
- Fat: 6g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Unsaturated Fat: 4g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 26g
- Fiber: 10g
- Protein: 15g
- Cholesterol: 15mg
Keywords: easy, quick, pressure cooker, comfort food, weeknight ideas, healthy