Soup from Bones: Split Pea and Ham Soup

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Split Pea and Ham Soup
[Brent Hofacker]

Frugality is all about wasting nothing. 

Including the Christmas ham bone.

Just like my mother, I put the Christmas ham bone in the freezer for six months, waiting for the winter that arrives on that first southerly of the season. 

On that morning, when I step outside and feel the cold burn on my cheeks, I know that it’s time to pull out the ham bone and make pea and ham soup.

You don’t have to just use a ham bone. You can also use bacon bones for this soup. Or you can keep an eye out at the supermarket deli for their leftover ham bone, which they sell extremely cheaply, just perfect for soup.

You also don’t need to spend 2 days cooking this soup, but I believe all good things take time. The slow cooker is your friend here – low and slow to make your life easier and the flavours meld into something worth lingering over when the nights are long and cold. 

This is a dish where leftovers get better, so freeze in portions for an easy lunch in the weeks to come.

Yield: 6 serves

Traditional Pea and Ham Soup

Split Pea and Ham Soup

This traditional frugal soup is made from ham or bacon bones and split peas. Freeze your Christmas ham bone for a winter treat.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes


  • 1 large ham bone or 2 bacon bones
  • 1 -2 onions, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 -2 carrots, diced
  • 250g green split peas (or yellow) This is about 1/2 a packet. Use more for a thicker soup less for a thinner soup.
  • 1.5 litres of water


  1. Place ham bone in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of hours, skimming any scum from the surface every now and then. You may need to top up the water occasionally so that the bone is covered.
  2. Leave to cool and then place in the fridge overnight. This hardens any fat in the soup, making it easy to scrape off the top in the morning. To make this soup more quickly, skim the fat off without waiting for it to harden.
  3. Remove the fat and the bone from the water and strip the meat off the bone. Shred the meat into smaller pieces if necessary before returning it to the pot.
  4. Add the vegetables and split peas and bring the soup to the boil. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked and the peas have become mushy (30 – 60 minutes). Season to taste.
  5. If you're using a SLOW COOKER, add ALL the ingredients at once and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the peas are mushy or high for 3-4 hours. Remove the bones, strip the meat and add it back into the soup before serving.


*3 hr cook time is for stovetop cooking. For the slow cooker, it will be around 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

When I make this soup I use around 2.5 litres of water and a whole packet of split peas. It's best to make it too thick because you can always water it down a bit if needed.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 91Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 602mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 8g

Nutritional information is calculated automatically using the Nutritionix database. Nutrition information can vary for a recipe based on factors such as precision of measurements, brands, ingredient freshness, serving size or the source of nutrition data. We strive to keep the information as accurate as possible but make no warranties regarding its accuracy. We encourage readers to make their own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  1. I pretty much do this but with leeks instead of ham as i’m a vego… delish:)

  2. Pea and leek soup…;)

  3. I add whatever veggies I have at the time
    and sometimes use dried soup mix (barley, split peas and lentils i think) instead of just split peas

    1. That’s a good idea, I’ll have to keep that in mind. I LOVE barley.