If you’re in the market for a hearty, healthy, comforting meal in less than an hour, you can stop your scrolling! This Instant Pot Split Pea soup recipe takes less than 15 minutes of active prep time, then the multi-cooker does all the heavy lifting for you.
Simply made with just 10 ingredients, this cozy bowl of goodness is easily attainable for even the most novice home cook.
Why This Meal Is The Best
As a midwesterner, our winters get pretty brutal, so when it comes to cold weather fare, I want something that is stick-to-your-ribs yummy. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always synch up with my overall eating ethos of lean, clean, and green.
Luckily, this simple Instant Pot split pea soup is:
- Wholesome & Nourishing. Made with just mire poix (the French trinity of onion, carrots, & celery), a bag of dried split peas, a ham shank, and a few pantry staples, this is a meal that’ll fill you up without weighing you down.
- Quick & Simple. It literally takes just 15 minutes of active cooking time to get this stellar meal on the table!
- Budget-Friendly. When the main ingredient (split peas) costs less than a buck for a pound, you know you’re in for an inexpensive meal. As an added bonus, it’s a great way to use up the ham bone from your holiday meal!
What are split peas?
Part of the legume family, split peas are cousins of chickpeas, soybeans, and even peanuts! These tasty little fellas can come in either green or yellow, though here in the US the green variety reigns supreme.
Aside from having a vibrant color, split peas are nutritional powerhouses. They boast high protein, high fiber, and a healthy dose of important nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and iron, but are low in fat and calories. Lean, clean AND green FTW!
As if that weren’t enough to love, split peas also quite good for the environment. Legumes are renowned for having amazing nitrogen-fixing attributes, making them a top choice for crop rotation and soil regeneration.
Budget-friendly, healthy, and delicious? I call that a win-win-win! The only drawback of these dried green orbs is that they usually take a long time to cook. However, since we make this split pea soup in the Instant Pot, they’ll be ready faster than it takes to watch an episode of The Office!
Split Pea Soup Ingredients & Substitutions
You don’t need much to make this pressure cooker split pea soup. Here’s your shopping list:
- Butter - A little bit goes a long way for amping up the flavor in this soul-warming split pea soup recipe. If you’re trying to be extra good, feel free to swap in heart-healthy olive oil instead.
- Yellow Onion - Mild yellow onions are a staple in my kitchen, but you can easily use either white or red onions or shallots here.
- Garlic - Fresh is always best, but in a pinch you can swap in ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove.
- Carrots - Carrots add sweetness, color, and texture that is absolutely tantalizing. Feel free to use white or purple carrots or parsnips if needed.
- Celery - Even if you aren’t a fan of fresh celery, you’re going to want to keep it in this split pea and ham soup. They become tender and sweet after cooking, lending a lovely vegetal flavor.
- Split Peas - Feel free to use either green or yellow here!
- Chicken Broth - You can either use homemade chicken broth or stock, canned or boxed options, or even some water and Better Than Bouillon if you’re short on kitchen space.
- Ham Shank - You might have a ham bone kicking around in the freezer from a holiday meal. If so, this is the place to use it! Split pea soup with ham hock is another excellent option.
- Kosher Salt & Black Pepper - If you’re using a different type of salt (e.g. sea salt or table salt), you’ll want to reference this conversion chart for proper measurement. Also, do yourself a favor and invest in a pepper grinder; freshly ground pepper has so much more flavor than the pre-ground powder.
- Soft Pretzels - I love adding a crouton topper for a little extra texture, and salty soft pretzels make for excellent ones. You can also use some French bread if you prefer!
If you’re going to make Instant Pot split pea soup, it should come as no surprise that you’re going to need:
- An Instant Pot! If you don’t have one, a regular stovetop pressure cooker or another brand of multi-cooker (e.g. the Ninja Foodi) will work.
How To Make Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
Short on time? That’s what this split pea and ham soup recipe is all about. Here’s how it’s made:
Step 1: Sauté Aromatics. In an instant pot, use the saute feature and melt the butter. Saute the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery for 3-5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and stir one more minute.
Step 2: Pressure Cook. Turn off the saute feature and add the peas, ham shank, chicken broth, and remaining salt and pepper. Cover with the lid and set to manual high pressure for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Natural Release. Once it's done cooking, naturally let the steam release naturally for about 10 minutes.
Step 4: Make Croutons. While that releases pressure, chop or tear the soft pretzel up and broil for 1-2 minutes then set aside.
Step 5: Shred Meat. After the instant pot has naturally released the steam, remove the ham shank and any meat left on the bone, shred and stir back into the soup.
Step 6: Adjust Seasonings & Serve. If your soup is too thick, at this point stir in the extra water. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Top with croutons and enjoy!
Swaps & Substitutions
While this delectable Instant Pot pea soup recipe is pretty perfect as is, there’s always room for customization in the White Kitchen! Here are some of my favorite variations:
- Split pea & bacon soup. Can’t find a ham shank or ham hock? Don’t fret! You can still get gorgeous smoky, salty flavor using a few rashers of bacon. Cut about 6 slices of bacon (using scissors is easiest!) and sauté for a few minutes before adding the aromatics. Follow the rest of the recipe as written!
- Pork-Free. If pork isn’t on the menu, this split pea soup also tastes amazing with a smoked turkey leg.
- Vegan. No meat at all? No problem! Swap out the chicken broth for veggie broth, then use vegan butter and smoked salt to replace the ham-like flavor. You can also swirl in some deeply caramelized onions before pressure cooking for some added richness.
- Gluten-Free. Instead of topping with croutons, feel free to swap in roasted chickpeas or a handful of crushed tortilla chips, or omit them entirely.
FAQs & Tips
Do you wash split peas before making soup? Yes! You should always rinse and sort any dried beans, including split peas. Why? They’re usually stored in enormous silos, which can sometimes mean grit, little critters, or even stones can get in the mix. The added step only takes about 30 seconds, and it’s well worth it.
Do dried split peas need to be soaked before cooking? Not for making this Instant Pot split pea soup! Usually, the purpose of soaking dried peas, lentils, or beans prior to cooking is to help them cook more quickly. Since this recipe is already lightening fast, you don’t need to take this added step.
That said, soaking your split peas overnight and then rinsing them clean can help to remove some of the phytic acid, which is responsible for making them what Bart Simpson would call “a musical fruit.” If you or your family is susceptible to the noisy effects of legumes, soaking might just be your answer!
What is the difference between green pea soup and split pea soup? Surprise: green peas and split peas come from the same plant! The only difference is how they have been processed: split peas have been halved and had their skins removed before drying, whereas whole green peas are usually sold fresh (during the spring) or frozen.
How do I make my split pea soup thicker? If you want your soup to be more of a stew, simply cut back on how much liquid you add. If you find that it is too thin after pressure cooking, set the Instant Pot back to sauté and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened.
How do I make my soup thinner? You might want to add a bit of water to the pea soup, especially if you’re reheating your leftovers. Add enough until it is the consistency you like! PRO TIP → Don’t want to cool off your soup? Add boiling water as you thin it out!
Storage/Freezing - As with most soup recipes, this split pea and ham number will only get better after a day or two in the fridge. Leftovers will keep for up to a week if covered and refrigerated. You can also freeze any for up to three months. PRO TIP → Want to make an easy grab-and-go freezer meal? Freeze leftovers into reusable muffin liners. When you’re in need of a quick meal, pop 2-3 muffins in the microwave and zap until heated through!
You don’t need much to turn this split pea soup into a meal. You don’t even need bread & butter if you add the croutons! That said, there are a few ways to serve this yummy meal:
- If you’re hosting a large gathering and don’t have enough bowls, use mugs! This would be a perfect dish to serve in mugs at a ladies lunch or bridal shower.
- Serve with a side salad for a bit more lean, clean, and green energy. Like my Cranberry Vinaigrette Salad!
- Omit the croutons and serve with a grilled cheese, garlic bread, or cheese plate for a little extra richness. YUM!
More Tasty Soup Recipes
Enjoyed this recipe? Try these other soup recipes out for weeknight dinners or meal prep!
Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 an yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 stalks of celery chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 lb dried split peas rinsed
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 ham shank or ham bone if you have one in the freezer!
- up to 1 cup water to thin out if necessary
- 1-2 large soft pretzels for crouton topping (could substitute french bread)
- In an instant pot, use the saute feature and melt the butter.
- Saute the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery for 3-5 minutes.
- Add a pinch of salt and pepper and stir one more minute.
- Turn off the saute feature and add the peas, ham shank, chicken broth, and remaining salt and pepper.
- Cover with the lid and set to manual high pressure for 15 minutes.
- Once it's done cooking, naturally let the steam release naturally for about 10 minutes.
- While that releases pressure, chop or tear the soft pretzel up and broil for 1-2 minutes then set aside.
- After the instant pot has naturally released the steam, remove the ham shank and any meat left on the bone, shred and stir back into the soup.
- If your soup is too thick, at this point stir in the extra water. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
- Top with croutons and enjoy!