Instant Pot split pea soup features hearty ingredients and smoky ham flavor for a satisfying meal the whole family will love. The pressure cooker shaves so much time from this recipe, and makes this gluten- and dairy-free pea soup recipe so easy to make! Just 16 minutes of pressure cook time here.
Lentil soup's less popular BFF (at least by number of Google searches), split pea soup brings the same thick and creamy texture as Instant Pot lentil soup, and is also made in a flash in the pressure cooker.
I'm a soup year-rounder so I made this Instant Pot split pea soup several times over the summer, but felt a little funny sharing it with you when it was a million degrees outside. Even though it's made in the Instant Pot and doesn't heat up your kitchen with hours of cook time on the stove.
Just wasn't feeling inspired to write a bunch of words about a soup recipe in the middle of summer, you know? Anyway, here it is, at a more seasonally-appropriate time. Better late than never!
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- This easy split pea soup is pretty healthy and filling. Split peas are dried legumes that are low in fat and are good sources of fiber, plant-based protein, and other nutrients.
- This soup is simple to make and features little hands-on time. After you saute the veggies, everything gets added to the Instant Pot and just sixteen minutes of pressure cook time is needed to soften the peas perfectly.
- The split peas break down and become creamy during pressure cooking. There's no need for immersion blending.
- Leftovers of this soup are the BEST. Not only does it freeze wonderfully, but if refrigerated it thickens up even more and is one of my favorite next-day lunches.
- Split peas: One pound of green split peas are used for this split pea soup. Green split peas are sweeter than yellow ones, so green are recommended. No pre-soaking is required here - just add them dry during that recipe step.
- Vegetables: Mirepoix, a classic trifecta of onion, carrot, and celery, provides a delicious base for soup when sauteed in olive oil. Minced garlic is also added near the end of the saute time so it doesn't burn.
- Broth: Reduced-sodium chicken broth provides a nice hint of flavor. Vegetable stock can be substituted if you'd like to make this Instant Pot split pea soup vegetarian (you would also need to omit the ham). Just adjust the salt and other seasonings as needed.
Meat to Use in Split Pea Soup
I prefer to use smoked ham shanks in pea soup, though if they're out of stock I'll buy hocks. While you can certainly plan to use ham hocks if that's more convenient, shanks are my preference as they are meatier and help give this soup extra heft. Anywhere between one to one-and-a-half pounds of ham shanks is my recommendation, keeping in mind that's the weight including bones. I'll add two small ham hocks (usually packaged together) when going that route .
Other meat options are diced and cooked ham, which would be a great way to use up leftover ham. If avoiding red meat, a smoked turkey leg is also an option here. You will find them in the same seasoning meat section of the supermarket near the shanks and hocks.
Seasonings and Spices for Split Pea Soup
As written this recipe includes salt, pepper, dried oregano, and bay leaves to keep things neutral cuisine-wise. Other ingredients, such as fresh garlic and smoked bone-in meat, provide flavor as well.
That said you have flexibility to add other dried spices as you like. I've taken to adding curry powder to my lentil soups, and it would be a tasty addition here, too. As would herbes de Provence or a pre-made Italian seasoning blend. If you like heat, a bit of cayenne pepper will do the trick.
As with many dried legumes, the split peas require a little prep work before you can throw them in the Instant Pot.
First they need to be sorted. Now, when I first started getting into using dried beans and peas I had no idea what I was looking for. I'd stir them around a few times and go, "yeah, looks good". But after managing to find a small rock in a batch with my haphazard sorting, I started paying more attention.
How to Prep and Sort Split Peas
You want to remove any rocks, shriveled up, misshapen, or otherwise off-looking peas, or any other detritus that ended up in the bag with the peas. My procedure is now pouring the dried peas out onto a plate or kitchen towel in a single layer and giving everything a good look over.
Next give the sorted split peas a good rinse with cool water. Up until recently, for reasons I'm not sure about, I was getting by in the kitchen with a small mesh strainer. This meant I'd need to rinse beans, peas, or quinoa in four or five batches. Since buying a large strainer in an inexpensive set (affiliate link), I can rinse everything at once. It's the little things that make a big difference sometimes!
Now your peas are good to go, no soaking required. Onward to the recipe.
Cooking Split Pea Soup in the Instant Pot
Once the peas are sorted and rinsed, I'd argue that the hard work is behind you.
- Add olive oil to the Instant Pot and set it to the Saute function. Once heated, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the minced garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- At this point you'll notice some burnt-ish bits stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot. While still on the Saute function, pour in about one-third cup of broth and scrape up all of the burnt bits as it bubbles.
- Once the Instant Pot has been deglazed, pour in the rest of the broth and water, then add the split peas and give it a big stir. Add the ham shanks/hocks/diced ham and the bay leaves, then shut off the Saute function. Close and lock the lid, then select Manual High Pressure mode and set it for 16 minutes.
- Once the 16 minutes of pressure cook time is up, let the pressure release naturally. Once the pressure is released, carefully remove the lid, discard the bay leaves, and remove out the super tender ham shanks/hocks to a cutting board. Cut the meat off the bone into bite-sized pieces, discarding excess fat bits at your discretion, then stir the meat back into the soup.
- It's important to scrape up any burnt bits (called fond) from the bottom of the Instant Pot insert before adding the rest of the ingredients and pressure cooking. Besides integrating that delicious flavor into the dish, it helps prevent the dreaded "burn" message you might have read about or experienced with Instant Pot cooking.
- I have a 6-quart Instant Pot (affiliate link), so that's the size used in testing this recipe. While I don't have personal experience with the larger Instant Pot, I would imagine the significant liquid content of this recipe would be just fine to make in an 8-quart IP, too.
- You'll find split pea soup thickens up considerably in the refrigerator. If you'd like it to be thinner when serving leftover portions, stir a little water or broth into the soup before reheating to bring it back to the right consistency.
Yes, it freezes very well. Let the soup cool off some then transfer to air-tight containers or bags. The soup will stay for several months.
One touch that instantly makes a soup feel ~*luxe*~ is to drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over top when serving. Homemade croutons are also a delicious topping, as are toasted crostini with smashed roasted garlic. If you like spice, stir in a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce when serving.
If you're looking for a more substantial soup accessory, a grilled cheese is a great one. This havarti grilled cheese is on sourdough bread and includes easy oven-roasted poblano peppers and caramelized onions for extra bite. And if you're up for making a yeast-based bread, pumpkin dinner rolls are a special touch.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
- 1 lb dried green split peas
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ¾ cup chopped carrots
- ¾ cup chopped celery
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 cups (32 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups (16 ounces) water
- 1-1.5 lbs smoked ham shanks or hocks (anything in that range is fine)
- 2 bay leaves
- Pour out the dried split peas onto a large plate or clean kitchen towel. Look them over to sort them, picking out and discarding any rocks and any wrinkled, misshapen, or off-colored peas. Rinse the sorted split peas in cool water and set aside for now.
- Add olive oil to the Instant Pot. Press the "Saute" button, leaving the lid off.
- Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are softening.
- Next add the minced garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano and give everything a stir. Cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- If there are any burnt bits on the bottom of the Instant Pot, pour in about one-third cup of the chicken broth and scrape up anything stuck to the bottom. Then pour in the remainder of the broth and the water.
- Stir in the sorted and rinsed split peas, then add the smoked ham shanks/hocks and the bay leaves. Press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button to shut off the Saute function, and then close and lock the lid. Make sure the pressure release valve is set to "sealing".
- Press the "Manual" button (or "Pressure Cook" on newer IP models), and adjust the cook time using the "+" or "-" button to 16 minutes.
- Once the 16 minutes are up, let the pressure release naturally before turning the valve to "venting" and removing the lid. Discard the bay leaves, then transfer the ham shanks/hocks to a cutting board. Remove and discard the bones. Chop the ham into bite-sized pieces, discarding any excess fatty bits as you see fit. Add the ham back into the Instant Pot and give everything a stir. Serve while hot.
- Leftovers: Once refrigerated, Instant Pot split pea soup thickens up considerably. You can add a small amount of water or broth to thin it out as you reheat leftovers.
- Topping Suggestions: A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a dash or two of hot sauce, and croutons or crusty bread for dipping.
- Storage Instructions: Split pea soup will stay for up to 5 days in the fridge and for several months if frozen.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer