No need to dust off grandma’s recipe box to dig up how to make this old comfort food favorite. Here’s a fresh, healthy take on Instant Pot Split Pea Soup, just for you!
A savory broth-based soup with veggies and split peas, warm spices, and ham (if you so choose—this can be made with or without a ham hock, or swap bacon for the ham!), split pea soup is hearty and super healthy.
Like Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup, split pea soup is humble soup that’s been around since ancient times, but it should not remain in the recipes-of-yore archives.
I’ve improved upon grandma’s instructions by making this from-scratch split pea soup in the Instant Pot, so it cooks more quickly, and by loading it with even more flavor and nutrients.
Why Make Instant Pot Split Pea Soup?
- Budget Friendly. Split peas are inexpensive and stretch the soup.
- Hearty. This soup tastes decadent because the pressure-cooked split peas create a creamy texture, and the ham bone and smoked paprika give it mega flavor. This Instant Pot split pea soup recipe will leave you full and satisfied.
- Healthy. Split pea soup is healthy because it is loaded with a variety of vegetables, has a good amount of fiber and protein, and is low fat—thanks to the split peas, it’s creamy without cream.
- Easy. The multi-functions of the pressure cooker makes this a one-pot meal that is very easy to prepare, but it tastes like it’s been simmering for hours.
- Leftovers. This soup reheats easily and tastes even better the next day. And it’s freezer friendly!
All About Split Peas
If you are going to make split pea soup, you probably want to know what split peas are.
- Split peas are regular peas that are dried, peeled, and split in half. They are a legume and similar to a lentil.
- There are generally two varieties of split peas: yellow and green. The green variety is sweeter, so that’s what I like to use in this soup. Yellow and green split peas have similar nutritional benefits.
- Split peas are great in soups and do NOT need to be soaked prior to cooking in Instant Pot split pea soup.
Split Peas Are Healthy
- Giddy up; split peas are a great source of plant-based protein.
- With fiber-a-plenty, split peas may offer anti-inflammatory benefits and are said to be good for gut health.
- Additionally, split peas are loaded with fiber, iron, potassium, folate, and magnesium (great for lowering blood pressure).
Using the Instant Pot for Split Pea Soup
The pressure cooker is the perfect instrument for split pea soup!
- The “SAUTE” function allows you to build the base on the soup right in the pot, without having to use a separate sauté skillet (less dishes, score!).
- The high pressure tenderizes the ham hock in minutes rather than hours. You’ll hardly need to use forks to shred it; the meat falls right apart. Drool.
- Along with the cooking liquid from the broth, split peas are absolutely safe to cook in the pressure cooker.
Other Favorite Comforting Soup Recipes Prepared in the Instant Pot:
- Instant Pot French Onion Soup. Bring this restaurant-style soup home in a flash thanks to the pressure cooker.
- Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup. This recipe is awesome because it’s super healthy (read: loads of broccoli), but actually tastes good. Bonus: it’s ready in 30 minutes. Take that, Panera.
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup. When your mom isn’t around to bring it to you when you’re sick in bed, you thankfully can make it easily for yourself with the Instant Pot.
- Instant Pot Tomato Soup. Pass me the grilled cheese.
How to Make Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
The familiar mirepoix friends (carrot, celery, onion) are slowly sauteed with smoky paprika and savory thyme, then pressure cooked with a ham bone or hock (alternatives provided; if you don’t have a ham hock you can still make this recipe!) and broth.
The soup is finished with a stir of Parmesan and squeeze of lemon to deliver a creamy, fresh split pea soup.
- Butter. For sautéing the veggies. Olive oil can also be used.
- Veggies. Onion, carrot, and celery build the soup’s flavorful base.
- Spices. Smoked paprika and thyme give the soup a warm, savory flavor that complements the ham.
- Garlic. I recommend using fresh garlic cloves for optimal flavor.
- Ham. You can use a ham bone, ham hock, or ham shank.
- Split Peas. Split peas do not need to be soaked prior to making Instant Pot split pea soup. Rinse and drain them to remove any debris, and then pick out any bad peas.
- Bay Leaves. Bay leaves cook in the soup and are removed at the end, departing their warm, earthy flavor. It’s subtle but important.
- Chicken Stock. Essential to the base of the soup.
The recipe calls for 6 cups of stock. To eliminate leftover stock from two, 32-ounce cartons, you can use 4 cups chicken stock from one, 32-ounce carton plus 1 (14.5)-ounce can chicken broth.
- Lemon Juice. My secret ingredient to bring the whole soup and all the flavors to life.
- Parmesan Cheese. Stir in freshly grated Parmesan cheese at the end to give the soup additional savoriness and richness.
- Turn Instant Pot to SAUTE, and cook onion in melted butter.
- Add carrots, celery, and spices. Cook. Stir in garlic.
- Add the ham bone, split peas, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Cook Instant Pot split pea soup on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Release any remaining pressure on manual.
- Discard bay leaf. Shred ham hock meat in separate bowl and discard the bone.
- Return shredded ham to pot. Stir in lemon juice and Parmesan. Adjust seasoning and thickness as desired. ENJOY!
- To Store. Place leftover Instant Pot split pea soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm this soup in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat this soup in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Store soup in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
To save on coveted freezer space, freeze soup in ziptop freezer bags and lay flat to freeze.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- 6-Quart Instant Pot. Larger sizes work too. If making in a 3-quart Instant Pot, I suggest halving the recipe (no need to change the Instant Pot pressure cook time, no matter the size).
- Cheese Grater. The easiest way to grate cheese right into your soup…and into anything else.
- Ladle. For spooning up all your favorite soups and stews.
Split pea soup is an oldie but a goodie. Don’t let this recipe stay in your archives.
Frequently Asked Questions
This recipe will deliver a thicker soup that you can then thin to your desired consistency by adding additional water or stock. If your soup is thin, you likely added too much liquid to the Instant Pot. You can also let it thicken by simmering with the lid off.
The crock pot would also be a good instrument for split pea soup because the low-and-slow method is important to sufficiently tenderize the ham hock. I recommend you do not shortcut the sauté step, so you’ll need to first sauté the veggies on the stove, and then add to the crock pot. I have yet to test this recipe in the slow cooker, but my estimate is crock pot split pea soup would be cooked on low for 7 to 8 hours with 4 cups of chicken broth rather than 6.
To make split pea soup vegetarian, you can omit the ham from the recipe. The smoked paprika does mimic the smoky flavor that would be from the ham, so you could add an additional teaspoon to compensate for the missing meat. To make vegetarian split pea soup a bit heartier, you could make vegetarian split pea soup with potato by adding one diced russet potato to the Instant Pot.
Yes! Instant pot split pea soup is a great way to use up any leftover ham (as is Ham Casserole) and really make this meal budget friendly. You would simply stir in the cooked, cubed ham into the pot at the end, after it’s done pressure cooking.
Ham hocks are cut from the bottom half of a pig’s leg. They’re largely bone, fat, tissue, and some meat, and thus need to cook for a long time to soften and impart their beautiful flavor. Hu to give it a try if you’ve never cooked with one before. Ham hocks are also called “pork knuckles.”
Handling a hunk of boney meat might feel a bit macabre, but ham hocks bring 1000% flavor game to soups. I encourage you to give one a try when you make this soup.
Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion 1/4-inch diced
- 4 medium carrots scrubbed and 1/2-inch diced
- 2 stalks celery 1/2-inch diced
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 5 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 ham bone smoked ham hock, or ham shank (see notes to swap deli ham or bacon)
- 1 pound dried green split peas rinsed and picked over
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 6 cups chicken stock to eliminate leftover stock from 2, 32-ounce cartons, you can use 4 cups chicken stock from 1, 32-ounce carton and 1 (14.5-ounce can chicken broth)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 to 2 cups water or additional chicken stock, as needed
- Turn a 6- or 8-quart Instant Pot to SAUTE. Add the butter and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the onion begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the carrots, celery, salt, smoked paprika, thyme, and black pepper. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Stir in the garlic and let cook 30 seconds.
- Add the ham bone, split peas, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Turn off the SAUTE function. Close and seal the Instant Pot. Cook on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Carefully vent the valve to release any remaining pressure.
- Unseal the Instant Pot. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Transfer the ham hock to a bowl and with two forks, pull the meat away from the bone. Discard the bone and return the ham to the pot.
- Stir in the lemon juice and Parmesan. If the soup is thicker than you would like, stir in water or additional stock as needed to reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as desired (you may want another few pinches of salt depending upon your chicken stock). Enjoy hot.
- TO STORE: Place leftover soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm this soup in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat this soup in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Store soup in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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