I’m not sure why I wanted to make this Split Pea and Lentil Soup last week, but I’m glad I did. Maybe I got a taste for it when the hot, humid streak finally ended and we had a taste of some fall weather. I used to make this years ago and then I lost the recipe. I jotted down what I could remember on a little piece of paper and that’s what I use to jog my memory.
Meathead loves split pea soup and, unfortunately, he buys cans of the chunky, gloppy kind to satisfy his craving. I don’t make split pea soup often, usually around a holiday if I have a leftover ham bone. But you know, it’s not hard to make and so I’m going to start making it again. In addition to split peas, my version has lentils. It’s good for you, satisfying and the smoky bacon and ham shanks gives it incredible flavor.
I start with bacon, and then soften and lightly brown some vegetables in the drippings for the base. I use homemade chicken stock, ham shanks for more smoky flavor, and shredded potato to thicken it up. It only needs about an hour to simmer for the split peas and lentils to become tender. When the soup is done, you can chop up the meat from the ham shanks and add it back in. You can use a smoked ham hock to give the soup a ton of flavor, but probably no meat to be had. That’s why I prefer a meaty ham bone if I have one, or ham shanks.
I started with 6 cups of chicken stock. After awhile it seemed too thick so I added another cup. I think maybe the original recipe might have called for 8 cups of stock, so I am going to have to say 6 – 8 cups of chicken stock is needed. Sorry for not being 100 per cent sure on this.
Split peas and lentils ~ a great combo for soup. We had it for dinner with some crusty bread and then again for lunch the next day. And, of course, it was even better the next day. So even if it’s not a holiday or you don’t have a leftover ham bone, don’t let that stop you from making this terrific and hearty Split Pea and Lentil Soup. It’s what comfort food is all about.
I’ve updated the recipe to include instructions for making in the Instant Pot. I love it either way, but with the pressure cooker there is no tending to the pot while it simmers on the stovetop and the resulting soup is a bit creamier, just sayin’.
Split Pea and Lentil Soup
- 3 pieces thick cut bacon, chopped
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- ½ cup finely chopped carrot
- ½ cup finely chopped leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed well to remove any sand
- ¼ cup chopped celery and leaves
- ¾ cup dried split peas and ¾ cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 6 - 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 3 smoked ham shank pieces
- ½ russet potato, shredded
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed to release flavor
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, cook bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Reserve about a tablespoon or so of fat in the pot.
- Add onion, carrot and leeks to pot. Sprinkle with some salt and cook until vegetables have softened and lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in bay leaves and thyme, and then add the split peas and lentils, celery and reserved bacon. Cover with the chicken stock. Add the shredded potato and ham hock, season with more salt and some pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover with lid slightly askew.
- Skim any foam that rises to the surface during the first 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally and simmer for another 45 minutes or until the split peas and lentils are tender. Add more stock if the soup seems too thick.
- Remove ham shanks, cool slightly and cut up meat and add back to the soup.
- Check for seasoning and serve.
- On sauté setting, cook the bacon until crisp and fat is rendered, remove from pot and set aside, reserving 1 tablespoon of fat in pot. Add carrots, onion and leeks, a sprinkle of salt, and cook until softened. Turn off sauté function. Stir in bay leaf and thyme, split peas and lentils, celery and reserved bacon. Cover with 7 cups of chicken stock and stir in shredded potato. Add ham shanks and season with a little salt and pepper.
- Seal pressure cooker and set for 20 minutes at high pressure. Let pressure release naturally for 15 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure. Open pot and remove ham shanks to cutting board. Stir soup thoroughly and taste for seasonings. Cut ham off the bone into pieces and return to soup. Enjoy!
- Prep time is the same, about 15 minutes, and about 10 minutes of sautéing. It takes about 15 - 20 minutes to come to pressure, then cook for 20 minutes, then pressure release of about 15 - 20 minutes. Total time start to finish, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.