Split Pea Soup with Smoked Pork

Mary Anne here. Recently Mariel and I received an inquiry from our friends at The Hip Hostess, asking if dried split peas needed to soak overnight before preparing them in a soup. Split Pea Soup! How could I have forgotten to include this family staple on Feast — a dish my mom still whips up when one of her six children lands in her kitchen for more than a days’ visit. I immediately shot off a note to Mariel with the instruction that the peas did not need to pre-soak (like their cousins Navy and Great Northern beans), and then without pause, set off to the grocery store for the fixings to make this splendid soup.

When I was growing up, this was a meal that miraculously delighted all six of us (and a fussy husband). Mom cooked the pork butt in the soup and then, before serving, removed the roast, cutting thin slices of meat that we solemnly piled on soft, bakery-fresh rye (which was pre-slathered with butter and mustard). Seriously, this was an Ellicott ritual and we savored every aspect of the meal. Mom cut the remaining meat into bite-size chunks and added it back to the soup — it was like the story of the 40 loaves; this soup was the soup that kept on giving! Once married and a mom myself, I served this to my own persnickety brood with equally palate-pleasing results.

So, a BIG thank you to our pals at The Hip Hostess for reminding us about this fam favorite (they happen to be another mom-daughter team). Spoons up!

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Split Pea Soup with Smoked Pork
Make 8 Main Course Servings

Note: A “bouquet garni” is spices wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with butcher’s string. Truth is, I’m a bit lazy and find that a tea ball does the job with less fuss! Just fill it with the prescribed amount of whole spices, screw on the top and hang it from its hook and chain inside the pot.

This soup freezes well and can be prepared up to three days in advance. Like a stew, it just gets better with time. It should be thick and creamy and is a snap to make. Double the recipe and you can stash some for yet another snowy day!

Generally, pork butt is found in your local supermarket next to the bacon and pre-packaged deli meats.

1 lb. dried split green peas – $0.79
1 ½ cups celery, chopped – $0.99
1 ½ cups carrots, peeled and chopped – $0.49
1 medium sweet onion (i.e. Maui or Vidalia), chopped – $0.69
2 lbs. smoked pork butt (you can also use leftover ham from a roast, just chop it up and use that in place of the smoked pork in the directions) – $9.64
8 cups water
Bouquet Garni: ½ Teaspoon whole allspice, ½ Teaspoon whole black peppercorns, and 1 Bay leaf – stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $12.60
Total Per Serving: $1.58

1. In a large Dutch oven, combine the pork butt, chopped vegetables, dried peas, and water. Bring to a boil. (If you’re using leftover ham chunks instead of a whole pork butt, you’d still add the chopped ham at this stage).

2. Reduce the heat and add the bouquet garni. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the pork butt to a cutting board. Taste the soup and correct the seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed.

4. If serving the soup with pork sandwiches as described in the intro, slice some of the meat for the sandwiches, trimming off any fat. Save about half of the smoked pork to cut into bite-size chunks and return them to the soup pot. Serve at once, layering the pork slices on buttered rye bread.


  1. Teri says

    Thanks for the reminder of Split pea soup. I’m mostly writing because through your brother Steve, years ago I acquired your Mom’s recipe for Key Lime Pie. And I was looking for a reminder of summer and made this for guests last pm. So easy, delicious, and had all of the staples on hand! Thanks again to your Mom.

  2. Liz Freedman says

    Teri, do I know you? I’m guessing you are a friend of Steves.

    Mary Anne and Mariel—thanks for reminding me about the soup. I’m definately going to make some!

    Love, Mom

    • feastonthecheap says

      Hey Mom. You’re getting pretty adept with the comment box! The Teri that wrote is Scott Karn’s bride, I’m guessing. Click on her aol address right below her name and you can talk to her directly. Happy soup making. Freeze some for when Mariel and I visit! xoxo

    • Steve says

      Hi Mom,

      Teri is Tom Richardson’s wife. They used to live on Martha’s Vineyard, and now live in Park City Utah.

    • feastonthecheap says

      Thanks for writing, Peter. And I’m glad you like my little tea ball idea — it really is easier, right?! And I’ll definitely check out your blog when I’m finished here. Great to hear from you! Mary Anne

  3. Brother Steve says

    What a fantastic looking website – I love it !!

    I believe that the Teri you are referring to is Teri Cook and Tom Richardson. We just spent last week skiing with Teri and Tom in Park City Utah, who also hosted our family. Teri cooked up some amazing meals as always.

    I am scouring my cookbooks and Feast on the Cheap for either a chili or soup recipe, as I have volunteered to make either one for a ‘Heartworks” fund raiser this evening.



    • feastonthecheap says

      So glad you like our new look! But the Teri ref — not sure, Steve. Re-read my post and can’t figure out the connection. In any event, thanks so much for stopping by, little bro! xoxo

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