Effortless Pea And Ham Hock Soup With The Perfect Side Dishes

Picture a steaming bowl of goodness. Green peas meld with tender Pea and Ham Hock Soup. Each spoonful offers comfort. Warmth spreads from belly to heart. This soup doesn’t just nourish; it tells a story. From farm-fresh ingredients to the simmering pot, care infuses every step. 

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Pea and Ham Hock Soup

Peas burst with vibrant health. Ham hock brings depth and richness. Together, they dance in perfect harmony. A touch of seasoning and magic unfolds. It’s a dish that connects generations. Grandmother’s recipe meets modern flair. 

Dive into tradition. Experience home in every taste. Welcome to a delightful journey with pea and ham hock soup.

What Is Pea And Ham Hock Soup?

Pea and Ham Hock Soup is a classic, hearty dish made from dried split peas and smoked ham hock. This soup boasts a creamy consistency, punctuated by tender chunks of ham. Its origins trace back to age-old European kitchens, a testament to its timeless appeal. 

Rich in flavor and nutrient-rich, it’s a winter favorite and comfort food staple. Every bowl offers warmth, nostalgia, and a delicious melding of simple ingredients. A culinary delight, it truly warms the soul.

History Of Pea And Ham Hock Soup

Pea and Ham Hock Soup has deep European roots, tracing back centuries. Often seen as peasant food, its humble ingredients were affordable and abundant. During harsh winters, the soup provided sustenance and warmth. Over time, it transcended its rustic origins, gracing commoner tables and royal feasts. 

The soup’s enduring appeal lies in transforming simple ingredients into a symphony of flavors. A testament to culinary resilience, Pea and Ham Hock Soup remains a beloved classic worldwide.

Interesting Facts About The Pea And Ham Hock Soup

  • Ancient Roots: Peas have been cultivated for over 7,000 years, with early versions of the soup likely consumed by ancient civilizations.
  • War-Time Staple: The soup gained popularity in World War II, as it utilized rationed ingredients effectively.
  • Nutritional Powerhouse: Split peas are rich in fiber, protein, and essential minerals.
  • Global Variations: Different countries have twists, like the Dutch “Erwtensoep” or the German “Erbsensuppe.”
  • Smoky Signature: The ham hock’s smoked flavor gives the soup its distinct taste.

What Makes The Pea And Ham Hock Soup Special?

  • Timeless Tradition: It bridges the gap between ancient culinary practices and modern tables.
  • Simplicity: Made with few ingredients, yet delivers a complex flavor profile.
  • Comforting Warmth: Its rich, creamy consistency epitomizes comfort food.
  • Nutritional Value: Packed with protein, fiber, and essential minerals.
  • Versatility: Can be adapted for different dietary preferences, from meat-heavy to vegetarian.
  • Economical: Utilizes affordable ingredients for a high-quality dish.
Pea and Ham Hock Soup

Ingredients List 

Ham hock1
Cold filtered waterAbout 3 quarts
Green split peas4 cups (soaked overnight in water with a splash of apple cider vinegar)
Carrots2, peeled and diced
Onions2, peeled and diced
Sea saltTo taste
Freshly ground black pepperTo taste

Ingredient Tips

  • Ham Hock Quality: Opt for a smoked ham hock from a trusted butcher for the best flavor.
  • Pea Prep: Ensure peas are well-rinsed after soaking to remove anti-nutrients and enhancers.
  • Water Wisdom: Use filtered water to maintain the soup’s pure taste, free from impurities.
  • Veggie Freshness: Organic carrots and onions impart a richer flavor.
  • Salt Selection: Choose high-quality sea salt, like Himalayan or Celtic, for added minerals.
  • Pepper Freshness: Use freshly ground black pepper for a robust and zingy flavor.

Can You Vary Pea And Ham Hock Soup With Other Ingredients?

  • Keto: Use less peas and add more low-carb veggies like spinach. Replace traditional ham with a fatty cut of pork or bacon.
  • Paleo: Skip any legumes; instead, load up on veggies. Opt for high-quality, pasture-raised ham.
  • Gluten-Free: This soup is inherently gluten-free. Ensure any added broth or flavorings are free from gluten fillers.
  • Whole30: Emphasize organic ingredients and be cautious of processed additives. Omit peas if strict.
  • Vegetarian: Omit ham. Use vegetable broth and add mushrooms for umami depth.
  • Vegan: Skip ham entirely. Incorporate smoked tofu or tempeh for that smoky flavor and a rich vegetable broth base.
Pea and Ham Hock Soup

Recipe Directions 

  • In a saucepan, place a ham hock and cover with cold water.
  • Heat on medium until simmering, skimming off scum.
  • Add peas, carrots, and onions. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 6 hours.
  • Remove ham hock, strip meat, and discard fat.
  • Dice meat; return to pan. Adjust soup consistency with water.
  • Season and serve.
Pea and Ham Hock Soup

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings


  • Vegan/Vegetarian: Use smoked tofu or tempeh instead of ham and vegetable broth for added depth.
  • Spicy Kick: Add diced jalapeños or cayenne pepper for warmth.
  • Creamy Twist: Introduce coconut milk or cream for a silkier texture.


  • Greens: Incorporate spinach, kale, or Swiss chard for added nutrients.
  • Legumes: Navy beans or lentils can complement the split peas.
  • Grains: Barley or quinoa can give extra heartiness.


  • Herbs: Fresh chopped parsley, dill, or thyme for fragrance.
  • Crunch: Crumbled bacon, croutons, or pumpkin seeds.
  • Zest: A squeeze of lemon juice or zest for brightness.
  • Heat: Drizzle of chili or garlic oil for an added kick.

Scaling The Recipe 

  • Ingredient Proportions: Maintain the same ratio when scaling up or down. If you double the servings, double each ingredient.
  • Cookware: Ensure the pot or saucepan can comfortably accommodate the increased volume. Avoid overfilling, which can lead to uneven cooking or spillage.
  • Cooking Time: While ingredients can be straightforwardly scaled, cooking time might not be. Doubling the recipe doesn’t mean doubling the cooking time. Monitor closely for doneness.
  • Seasoning: Be cautious. Instead of directly scaling up seasonings like salt or pepper, add incrementally and taste as you go.
  • Ingredient Efficiency: Bulkier items, like a ham hock, might not need to be doubled for twice the servings. One larger hock could suffice.

What Is Used For Garnishing?

  • Herbs: Freshly chopped parsley, cilantro, dill, or chives offer color and aroma.
  • Cream: A swirl of cream, yogurt, or coconut milk can give a contrasting creamy touch.
  • Seeds & Nuts: Toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or crumbled walnuts add crunch.
  • Citrus: Lemon or lime zest or a tiny wedge can brighten flavors.
  • Croutons: Offer crunch and soak up the soup flavor.
  • Cheese: Grated Parmesan or crumbled feta can enhance richness.
  • Oils: Drizzles of olive, chili, or truffle oil for depth and shine.
Pea and Ham Hock Soup

Can I Make Pea And Ham Hock Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

Slow Cooker

  • Place all ingredients, except salt and pepper, into the slow cooker.
  • Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  • Once done, remove the ham hock, shred the meat, and return it to the soup.

Instant Pot

  • Use the “Sauté” function to sauté the onions and carrots briefly.
  • Add the ham hock, split peas, and water.
  • Seal and cook on “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” for 45 minutes.

Can I Use Store Bought Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?

Store-Bought Broth

  • Convenience: It’s quick and easy, especially when pressed for time.
  • Flavor Variations: Available in various flavors and types (chicken, beef, vegetable).
  • Preservatives: Some may contain added preservatives, sodium, or flavor enhancers. Look for organic or low-sodium options.

Homemade Broth

  • Flavor Control: Tailor the taste according to your preference.
  • Nutrition: Homemade broths, especially bone broths, can be rich in nutrients and minerals.
  • Economy: Making broth from kitchen scraps is cost-effective.

Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For The Soup?


  • Chicken: Bone-in thighs or drumsticks infuse flavor.
  • Bacon: Smoky and rich, a great alternative to ham.
  • Fish: Flaky white fish or smoked salmon add a unique twist.


  • Orzo: Small rice-shaped pasta integrates well.
  • Shells or Ditalini: Capture the pea texture.


  • Potatoes: Add heartiness and thickness.
  • Leeks: Subtle oniony flavor.
  • Celery: Provides depth.
  • Spinach/Kale: Nutritious greens that wilt perfectly into the soup.
Pea and Ham Hock Soup

Success Tips – Tips And Tricks For Making The Recipe 

Prepping Tips

  • Pea Soaking: Overnight soaking ensures softer peas and reduces cooking time.
  • Ham Hock: Using smoked hock elevates flavor depth.
  • Veggie Chopping: Uniformly diced veggies ensure even cooking.

Cooking Time Tips

  • Simmer Control: Maintain a gentle simmer to avoid overcooking or burning the peas.
  • Skimming: Regularly remove the foam or scum that rises to ensure clarity.
  • Water Check: Add water or broth to adjust consistency if the soup thickens too much.
  • Meat Test: The ham hock is ready when meat is easily pulled from the bone.
  • Final Seasoning: Always season at the end to avoid over-salting.
Pea and Ham Hock Soup

Nutritional Values 

Pea and Ham Hock Soup isn’t just a comforting meal; it’s also a nutritional powerhouse. Packed with protein from the ham and fiber from the peas, it offers a balanced fusion of essential nutrients. Dive into its health benefits and discover a wholesome meal that nourishes as much as it delights.

What Are The Total Calories In Pea And Ham Hock Soup? 

A generous estimate might place a cup of soup at around 200-250 calories. Consider the exact measurements and brands of your ingredients for a precise count.

Dietary Restrictions Of The Pea And Ham Hock Soup

  • Meat-based: Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans due to ham.
  • Gluten-Free: Naturally gluten-free, but always check broth labels if using store-bought.
  • Legumes: Contains split peas, which some individuals may be sensitive to or avoid in specific diets like Paleo.
  • Low-Carb/Keto: While high in protein and fiber, split peas have carbohydrates, making it a consideration for strict keto dieters.
  • Salt Content: Ham hocks and commercial broths can be high in sodium. Monitor intake for sodium-restricted diets.
  • Allergens: Generally allergen-free, but always verify each ingredient if prone to specific food allergies.

Health Benefits Of The Pea And Ham Hock Soup

  • Rich in Protein: Both split peas and ham provide substantial protein for muscle repair and growth.
  • High Fiber: Split peas offer dietary fiber, aiding digestion and promoting satiety.
  • Vitamins & Minerals: Contains B vitamins, iron, and zinc from both the peas and ham.
  • Bone Health: Ham hock may release collagen and other beneficial compounds during simmering, supporting joint and bone health.
  • Low Fat: When the fat layer is removed from the ham hock, the soup remains relatively low in saturated fats.

Nutrition Table 

Nutrition Table 

How Can I Make Pea And Ham Hock Soup Lower In Sodium?

  • Fresh Ham Hock: Choose a fresh one instead of a salt-cured or smoked ham hock. If you only have the salted version, rinse it thoroughly under cold water before use.
  • Homemade Broth: Store-bought broths can be high in sodium. Make your broth from scratch without adding salt. If you must use store-bought, choose a low-sodium or unsalted version.
  • Limit Added Salt: Hold off on adding table salt until the end. Taste the soup first and then decide if it needs additional seasoning. Often, the natural flavors might be enough.
  • Vegetables: Use fresh vegetables instead of canned, as canned vegetables can have added salt.
  • Herbs and Spices: Enhance the soup’s flavor with fresh herbs (like rosemary, thyme, or parsley) and spices instead of relying on salt.

How Can I Make Pea and Ham Hock Soup Lower In Sugar?  

  • Vegetable Choices: While peas, carrots, and onions contain natural sugars, you can reduce their quantities or opt for lower-sugar vegetables like celery or zucchini.
  • Broth: Use homemade broth to ensure no added sugars. If using store-bought, select unsweetened and low-sodium versions.
  • Avoid Processed Ingredients: Some processed or smoked meats may contain sugar. Stick to fresh ham hock.
  • Seasoning: Avoid sauces or seasonings with hidden sugars.
  • Cooking Method: Slow cooking can intensify natural sugars. Monitor cooking time and avoid overcooking.
Soup lover

How To Serve The Pea And Ham Hock Soup At Its Best? 

  • Warm Bowls: Preheat bowls to keep the soup hot for longer.
  • Garnish: A sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley or chives adds color and flavor contrast.
  • Crusty Bread: Serve alongside warm crusty bread or toasted sourdough slices for dipping.
  • Drizzle: A swirl of good-quality olive oil or a dollop of cream can elevate the soup’s richness.
  • Freshly Ground Pepper: A twist of black pepper enhances depth.

Perfect Side Dishes To Complement Pea And Ham Hock Soup

  • Crusty Bread: Freshly baked baguettes or sourdough slices, perfect for soaking up broth.
  • Green Salad: A light arugula or spinach salad with a zesty lemon vinaigrette counterbalances the soup’s richness.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Brussel sprouts, asparagus, or cauliflower roasted with olive oil and herbs.
  • Pickles: Offering a tangy contrast, like cornichons or pickled onions.
  • Cheese Board: A selection of soft cheeses, nuts, and dried fruits.
Soup lover

How Long Can We Store The Soup? 

  • Refrigeration: Transfer the soup into airtight containers once cooled to room temperature. Properly stored, it can last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Freezing: This soup freezes well. Portion it into freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving some space for expansion. Properly sealed, it can be stored for 2-3 months.
  • Reheating: Thaw frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat on the stove over medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally.

Can I Make The Soup In Advance?

  • Flavor Development: Soups often taste better as ingredients meld and intensify the next day.
  • Convenience: Prepare for dinners, parties, or weekly meals by cooking ahead.
  • Cooling: Let the soup cool to room temperature before storing to prevent condensation and maintain texture.
  • Storage: Refrigerate in airtight containers to keep freshness.
  • Reheat: Gently warm the soup on the stovetop, stirring occasionally.
  • Freezing: For longer storage, freeze the soup in portions. This allows for easy thawing and reheating.

What Can We Do With Leftovers? 

  • Blended Soup: Puree leftovers for a smoother texture; great as a soup base.
  • Stir Fry: Incorporate the meat and veggies into a quick stir fry with additional greens.
  • Pasta Sauce: Reduce the soup until thicker and toss with pasta for a flavorful sauce.
  • Pie Filling: Use as a hearty filling for savory or pot pies.
  • Grain Bowls: Mix with cooked quinoa or rice, topped with fresh herbs.
  • Tacos or Wraps: Use meat and vegetables as fillings.
Soup lover

Special Tools/Equipment Needed 

  • Large Saucepan or Dutch Oven: These deep pots distribute heat evenly and retain it well, essential for long-simmering soups.
  • Ladle: For stirring the soup and serving.
  • Slotted Spoon: Useful for removing the ham hock or skimming off any foam or scum.
  • Sharp Knife: For dicing vegetables and cutting the meat.
  • Cutting Board: A sturdy board aids in prepping ingredients.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurate ingredient portions.
  • Blender or Immersion Blender: If you desire a smoother soup texture, these tools can puree your soup without transferring it to another vessel.
  • Strainer: If you decide to strain any ingredients or impurities out.
  • Thermometer: To ensure the soup reaches a safe temperature, especially when reheating.
  • Airtight Containers: For storing leftovers or prepped ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Use Yellow Split Peas Instead Of Green Split Peas?

Indeed, while green split peas are traditional and offer a distinct taste and color, yellow split peas are a suitable substitute. They provide a slightly different flavor and a more golden hue to the soup. Still, the overall texture and cooking process remains similar.

Is It Necessary To Soak The Split Peas Overnight?

It is advisable, though not mandatory. Soaking aids in reducing cooking time, ensuring even softening of the peas, and may improve digestibility. If pressed for time, a quick soak method can boil the peas for 10 minutes and let them sit for an hour.

How Can I Enhance The Smoky Flavor If I’m Using A Fresh Ham Hock?

If the desired smoky undertone is missing from fresh ham hocks, consider adding a drop or two of liquid smoke or incorporating smoked paprika to the recipe. Another option is to include smoked meat or sausage in the soup, such as smoked bacon or chorizo.

What Should I Do If My Soup Is Overly Watery?

If the soup is too thin, allow it to simmer uncovered for an extended period, facilitating reduction. Alternatively, a cornstarch and water mixture can thicken the soup. Make sure to stir continuously to avoid lumps.

How Can I Make The Soup Creamier Without Dairy?

To achieve a creamier consistency without dairy, consider blending a portion of the soup and mixing it back in. Alternatively, adding coconut milk or a non-dairy creamer can enhance the soup’s richness and provide a velvety texture.

Effortless Pea And Ham Hock Soup With The Perfect Side Dishes

Effortless Pea And Ham Hock Soup With The Perfect Side Dishes

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Recipe by Hanna Barnes Course: Soup Recipe


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This soup is a timeless classic, a comforting blend of hearty ham hock and creamy green split peas. Rich in flavor and texture, it’s a delightful marriage of smoky meatiness and velvety peas, warming the soul with every spoonful.


  • Ham hock

  • Cold filtered water

  • Green split peas

  • Carrots

  • Onions

  • Sea salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Step-By-Step Directions 

  • Preparation Steps
    Prepare your ingredients by measuring the split peas, dicing the carrots and onions, and setting aside the ham hock.
  • Cooking
    Place the ham hock into a large saucepan.
    Pour in cold filtered water, ensuring the ham hock is covered.
    Set the saucepan on medium heat and let it come to a bare simmer. During this process, skim off any scum that surfaces.
    Introduce the split peas, diced carrots, and onions to the pan.
    Adjust the heat to low and maintain a gentle simmer. The lid should be off or just slightly askew. Continue cooking for about 6 hours. Check occasionally, adding water as necessary to maintain a soup consistency.
  • Blending & Final Touches
    Once cooked, remove the ham hock from the pan. Strip the meat from the bone, removing the layer of fat found under the skin.
    Cut the stripped meat and fat into bite-sized pieces.
  • Serving
    Reintroduce the diced meat into the saucepan. If you find the soup overly thick, add water until you achieve your desired consistency.
    Season the soup to taste using salt and pepper.
    Ladle the soup into bowls, ensuring each has a good mix of peas, vegetables, and meat.

Recipe Video


  • Alternative Peas: Yellow split peas can be used for a different flavor and color profile.
  • Skimming: Regularly skimming the top ensures a clearer soup free of impurities.
  • Seasoning: Adjust salt towards the end to account for the natural saltiness of the ham hock.
  • Storing: Soup flavors deepen over time, making them excellent for next-day consumption.
  • Vegan Version: Omit the ham hock and use vegetable broth for a vegan variant. Add smoked paprika for a smoky flavor.
Hanna Barnes

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