Split Pea Soup With Ham From 'Lighten Up, America!'

Split Pea Soup with Ham
Hélène Dujardin

Split pea soup was a favorite of mine as a kid (did that make me a weird kid?). I was just as happy eating it from a can as I was from a big, lovingly attended pot. But I rarely make it these days; in fact, I had forgotten about the soup until opening up Allison Fishman Task's new cookbook, Lighten Up, America! Her lightened version isn't much different from the classic. She still includes chunks of ham and slivers of bacon, but bulks up the nutrition with hearty chunks of carrots and leeks. Instead of adding a traditional smoked ham hock (too salty in her book), she stirs in a little smoked paprika to finish. It's not quite the same as a hock, but it's still a fine addition to a warm, comforting supper.

Why I picked this recipe: Cold, snowy January weather is the perfect environment for hot, porky split pea soup.

What worked: I especially liked the double dose of pork here; eating ham and bacon kept the soup from feeling like diet food. Adding smoked paprika at the end of cooking was also a nice touch.

What didn't: My peas needed a little bit longer in the pot before they turned tender. I gave them about 1 hour before serving. I also added extra salt.

Suggested tweaks: If you're short on time in the evenings, you can soak the split peas ahead of time (8 hours or so is plenty), and they'll cook up much more quickly.

Reprinted with permission from Lighten Up, America! Favorite American Foods Made Guilt-Free by Allison Fishman Task. Copyright 2013. Published by Oxmoor House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 75 mins
Serves: 7 servings

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  • 1 pound green split peas
  • 1 leek
  • 2 bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 ounces ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika


  1. Sort and wash split peas; drain.

  2. Remove roots, outer leaves, and tops from leeks, leaving 1/2 inch of dark leaves. Slice leek in half lengthwise; cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.

  3. Cook bacon in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until pieces begin to crisp. Add onion, celery, carrot, oil, and leek; reduce heat to medium, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add split peas, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 7 cups water and next 6 ingredients (through bay leaf); bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 45 minutes or until split peas are tender.

  4. Discard bay leaf. Stir in ham and smoked paprika; simmer 2 minutes or until ham is thoroughly heated.

  5. Per 1 cup serving: CALORIES 339; FAT 8g (sat 2.1g, mono 3.8g, poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 22.8g; CARB 45g; FIBER 17.9g; CHOL 21mg; IRON 3.5mg; SODIUM 267mg; CALC 62mg