I’ve found my new favorite soup recipe. Behold: the humble and cozy split pea soup. I always forget how much I LOVE this soup recipe! And this instant pot split pea soup, made with a leftover ham bone (or any other ham), is a game-changer. The pressure cooker cuts the cooking time in half and imparts the flavor of the ham into every scrumptious bite. It’s so simple, but SO delicious. And it’s ridiculously easy to make!
Dried split peas are part of a food group known as pulses, which include beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils. I love cooking pulses in my pressure cooker because it takes such a short amount of time, meaning you can start it on a weeknight and have it ready in less than an hour for dinner. My last pressure cooker pulse creation was this Instant Pot Chili, made with dried kidney beans and ground beef.
I love cooking with split peas because they have many of the same health benefits as other pulses, but take a shorter time to cook and don’t require pre-soaking. And they are just so tasty!
And my favorite part about pulses: you get a lot of nutritional bang for your buck. They are one of the cheapest and healthiest foods out there- a whole 1lb. bag of split peas cost me only $0.89 when I made this recipe. It’s easy to stick to the Half-Cup Habit (having 1/2 cup of pulses three times a week in order to maintain a healthy diet) with inexpensive, easy recipes like this.
If you’re planning on having ham this holiday season, do NOT throw out the bone! And don’t let the person hosting throw it out either. I fully plan on being “that person” who asks to take the turkey carcass home after Thanksgiving at my in-laws so I can make homemade turkey stock. I don’t care. I am who I am :-)
Adding a ham bone to split pea soup elevates it to a whole new level. There is a ton of flavor in the bone itself, as well as marrow and gelatin, which infuses into the soup as it cooks (which both thickens it and gives it many of the same health benefits as bone broth). And there’s also still likely a lot of meat left on the bone, which will easily come off after letting it simmer in the soup for so long.
Confession: I actually bought a whole ham JUST so I would have the bone to make this soup. Such is the life of a food blogger.
But don’t worry- you don’t have to go that far. If you don’t have a ham bone – since it’s not very often in life that we come across them, is it? – you can definitely just use thick-cut diced ham. And you can even make this soup vegetarian or vegan by omitting the ham and making a few other changes (see notes in recipe below)….