This Allergen Friendly Split Pea and Ham Soup recipe is one of our favourite soup season meals. It is hearty and perfectly balanced maple and salty bacon flavour. This soup is top 9 allergens friendly, and gluten and dairy free as well.
- Why We Like This French Canadian Split Pea and Ham Recipe
- The Ingredient Low Down
- Instructions/ Directions and Tips
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- Variations /Adaptations
- Storage and Reheating Instructions
- How to Send Split Pea and Ham Soup as Leftovers for Lunch
- Top Tip
- FAQ about Split Peas and Ham Soup
- What To Serve With Homemade Pea and Ham Soup
- Other Recipes You May Enjoy
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Why We Like This French Canadian Split Pea and Ham Recipe
Growing up in Canada, Ham and Pea Soup is something we had often in the New Year. When the kids were young and hadn't been diagnosed with allergies we used to visit French Canadian Sugar Shack festivals. I grew up in an area of Canada that had some French influence as a child and this soup reminds me of Carnaval. French ham and pea soup in Quebec, Cananda is a traditional soup in a sugar shack meal for visitors. We as a family tend to like our soup with a hint of maple syrup to bring that sentiment out even more.
This is our go-to recipe for using up leftover ham roasts. We buy the ones with the bone in it and use the bone to make a homemade bone broth. You can buy bone broth from natural food stores, grocery stores, and farmer’s markets. Make sure they meet your allergy needs before buying. This is a way to help us get the most out of our food and ingredients and stretch our food budget.
We use dried split peas for this recipe which is another way for us to reduce the costs of this meal for our family. A couple of aromatic ingredients like onions and carrots, herbs and we have a delicious and nourishing soup that freezes really well for later. It is one of the soups that when we make it, we do a double batch as it is on a more time intensive side of cooking. This means we can have soups to eat after they have been thawed, ready in a jiffy.
- Thick Cut Bacon
- Cooked Ham, from leftovers
- Bay Leaves
- Pork Broth
- Maple Syrup
- Dried Split Peas
- Leftover Ham Bone, from a ham roast
See recipe card for quantities.
The Ingredient Low Down
Thick Cut Bacon
We prefer the thick cut bacon for this recipe as it will give more fat for cooking the vegetables and impart more flavour. If it is too expensive or hard to find a safe one for you, use whichever is safest for you. We like hickory or maple smoked bacon for this recipe for added flavour.
If I don’t have leftover ham what can I use instead?
You can use all thick cut bacon, if you’d like but taste the soup before adding the last bit of salt as bacon is a very salty meat and the additional salt may not be needed. You can also use another kind of meat like a more mild cooked chicken thigh or cut up beef. They will both give a bit of a different flavour but will still result in a delicious soup.
Carrots, Celery, Onions, and Garlic
The aromatics are diced and fried in bacon fat until tender. If it saves time, frozen varieties can be used. When meal prepping we often dice and freeze large bags of carrots, celery, onions and garlic so we just have to pull them out the night before and thaw in the fridge before cooking.
Dried garlic and onion powders will not give enough of the proper flavour for this soup. If using precut veggies or frozen ones make sure they are safe from allergens in the packaging of the products.
Cooked Ham, from leftovers
We use the leftovers from a large ham roast for this allergen friendly split pea and ham soup recipe but you can buy ham, cook it for this soup. Many hams are precooked and can be used as is in this recipe. Just make sure that any ham that has been smoked and glazed is free from the top allergens. Soy, wheat, and for us mustard are often what can make finding a precooked one challenging.
Bay Leaves, Marjoram, Salt, and Pepper
Just like all other ingredients, check that your spices are free from the top allergens. We are seeing more and more spices being packaged in plants that have shared lines with allergens. For this recipe we use dried spices. They can be substituted for fresh bay leaves and marjoram. All that has to be changed is use three times the fresh herb rather than the amount of dried herbs the recipe calls for.
Commercially made pork broth or pork bone broth can be used in this recipe. It can be usually found at natural food stores, grocers chains, or at farmer’s markets. It may be in the frozen foods or in the soup aisles if processed and canned or in a tetra pack. Always check that they are free from allergens for you.
We usually make our own pork broth. To make your own pork broth, boil the ham bone from the dinner for 3-6 hours in a large pot filled with water. Add water as needed to replace what is boiling off. Alternatively, the pork bone broth can be made in an instant pot in an hour.
Being from Canada we use a good quality medium coloured real maple syrup in the soup. This balances the smokiness and saltiness of the ham and bacon beautifully. If you cannot use maple syrup instead of using a syrup-like sauce made from corn syrup, try honey instead.
Dried Split Peas
We have a couple of stores where we were able to find the split peas in the dried food section that are suitable for those with allergies. Do not use bulk stores as they have a high risk of cross contact with allergens. We had to check with the manufacturers of a few brands before finding the ones we use as many plants have shared lines with wheat, milk, and other allergens.
Can you use fresh peas or frozen peas?
Fresh and frozen peas can be used.
You can use fresh or frozen peas but only simmer for 30-40 minutes or they will break apart and go really mushy, if you want peas that stick together more. If you like a mushier pea soup then simmer longer. The fresh peas will give a really great fresh and bright taste to the soup.
Leftover Ham Bone, from a ham roast
The ham bone is optional but is the ingredient that adds the most flavour to the slow cooking pea and ham soup in our opinion. Not all will buy a ham roast with a bone in but we do as it often yields the best broth. After boiling it for 6 hours, or 1 in an instant pot, bake the bone. To do this in the oven at 400-425 F for about 25- 30 minutes on a cookie sheet or until they have darkened slightly. You don’t want any meat still clinging to the bones to burn though so if it starts to burn cover it with foil or stop baking them. After baking it can be used in the soup. The bones should be used within 72 hours of the first cooking or from thawing, if previously frozen.
Instructions/ Directions and Tips
1- In a large soup pot over medium-high heat fry the diced thick cut bacon. Fry until fully cooked and starting to crisp.
2- Remove the bacon from the pot and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Reserve the bacon for later. Keep the bacon fat in the pot.
3- In the bacon fat fry the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic until softened. The onions and garlic should be translucent. It will take about 4-5 mins.
4- Add in bacon that has been reserved, ham, bay leaves, marjoram, pork broth, maple syrup, dried split peas, and water. Stir well.
5- Put the ham bone in the soup, if using, and let it boil with the soup for added flavour.
6- Bring to a soft boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to allow the soup to simmer.
7- Simmer for 1.5 hours stirring often, scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the soup doesn’t stick to the pot. Add water if needed, to cover the peas by at least ½ - 1 inch of liquid whilst simmering.
8- Remove all parts of the ham bone and the bay leaves from the soup. They can be discarded or composted in some areas. Do not serve the soup with these in.
9- Add salt and pepper to your tastes and stir well.
Hint: Using diced ham from leftovers will help use up what is on hand and make sure you have good quality ingredients in the allergen friendly split pea and ham soup.
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- Lentils - These can be used in place of split peas. Green lentils will keep their shape better but red will soften quicker. Lentils do not need soaking and can be cooked in around 45 minutes.
- Chickpeas - These can be used in place of split peas. Be sure to soak them overnight before simmering as they will not cook in 2 hours of simmering. If using chickpeas, try mixing up the spices with a bit of cumin and garam masala.
- Other meat bases - beef, lamb, or chicken could be used in place of ham and bacon.
- Fresh or frozen peas - In place of dried split peas fresh or frozen can be used. Adjust the simmering time to keep a touch of firmness to the peas, if desired. The fresh or frozen peas will cook quicker so only simmer for 30- 45 minutes.
- Vegan - To make this soup the broth needs to be replaced with mushroom broth or vegetable broth. The ham and bacon should be omitted and depending on what is available in your area for vegan bacon bits that are top 8 free they may be used. We instead often make the soup a pea soup with chunks of sauteed portobello mushrooms. The vegetables should all be sauteed in a neutral oil rather than bacon fat. Maple syrup is vegan so it doesn’t need replacing.
We are allergic to pork. Can we use another kind of meat and broth?
Yes! You can absolutely use another kind of meat in allergen friendly split pea and ham soup. Beef works the best in our experience.
The bones from beef ribs or roasts can be used to make beef bone broth. Changing the meat will give a much richer taste to the soup. Lamb will be the richest taste so we suggest mixing lamb with beef, if using it. These meats are also not as salty as ham and bacon so you may need to add more salt into the broth for a better flavour.
Chicken or turkey can be used instead but will give a very mild taste to the broth. If using chicken we suggest starting by boiling a whole raw chicken for a couple of hours to get a nice broth and then stripping the meat for the soup from the chicken, after cooking this way. It will need a bit more salt than the ham will so taste the soup and salt it to your preference.
- Creamy pea and ham soup - To make a creamy pea and ham soup when the soup has finished simmering use an immersion blender to blend the soup into a nice creamy finish. To make it even smoother the soup can be passed through a fine mesh sieve with a spoon to help it though quicker. Add a 15 ounce can of coconut cream or 15 ounces of barista gluten free oat milk to the soup. Bring the soup up to light simmer and make sure the non-dairy milk is all mixed in for the perfect creamy pea and ham soup.
- Posh it up - To make this an utterly posh split pea and ham soup consider using porchetta in place of ham and crisping up pork lardons instead of bacon. Use fresh herbs in the making of the soup. Garnish with more fresh herbs, a swirl of garlic flavoured olive oil, dairy free sour cream as a dollop to top.
- Kid friendly - Serve with gluten free buns or top 8 free crackers like Laiki or Made Good Stars for dipping.
- Homestyle - Serve in a Gluten Free Bread Bowl and top with homemade gluten free croutons with freshly cracked pepper and crispy bacon bits.
It doesn’t take any fancy or specialised equipment to make this gorgeous split pea and ham soup. A Large soup pot, a utensil for stirring the soup, a cutting board and knife to cut the veggies and measuring cups and spoons are all that is needed. This is a really easy soup as it doesn’t need blending or straining.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
In a well sealing container the soup will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.
The split pea and ham soup will keep in a well sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating. Do not refreeze thawed soup.
We prefer to store the soup in containers that will feed the whole family when thawed and thinned with water or in individual servings for lunches. We often use ziploc freezer bags that are frozen flat on a cookie sheet and stacked in our freezer. This makes them easy to quickly thaw.
For a quick thaw, place the sealed soup container in a bowl of cool and not hot water until thawed. The cool water may need to be changed when the water gets too cold to thaw the soup.
This soup should be reheated to 165 F for best food safety practices when having as a leftover meal. The soup should only be reheated once.
In a medium pot reheat only the portions needed for the meal. Add ½ cup of water per portion in the pot and stir it in well. The split pea and ham soup will thicken as it is chilled and will need the water to thin it out. More water can be added for a thinner soup, if desired.
Heat the soup over medium heat until it starts to blip and bubble. Reduce the heat so the soup simmers for 5 minutes before serving.
In a microwave safe bowl, heat one portion of the soup at a time. Each portion should be heated for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Stir when the heating cycle has completed and chcek the soup has fully heated through. If not continue heating for another 25 seconds, stir and check again. Repeat as needed.
How to Send Split Pea and Ham Soup as Leftovers for Lunch
We love to send our kids with soup for lunch and invested in good quality small thermos style containers they can easily open themselves. The containers keep the soup warm until lunch time, especially when we preheat the container. Fill the container with hot water and set the lid on top to let it warm the inside of the container.
On the stove, heat up the soup in a small pot with ½ a cup of water over medium heat until it starts to boil. Turn down the heat and let the soup simmer softly for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and turn off the burner.
Pour out the water from the thermos container and fill it with soup leaving enough room for it not to spill when opened. Make sure the soup is only warm when opened and hot so hot it will burn the mouth or anyone opening it, if it is spilled.
Make sure to send a spoon in their lunch kit. It is the one thing I try and put in extra of as I always forget it. The kids end up drinking the soup or using their gluten free roll as a spoon.
Slowly simmering for an hour and a half will soften the split peas perfectly for this allergen friendly split pea and ham soup and perfectly blend the flavours with the ham. Adding the bone is the perfect way to get the most flavour infused into the split pea and ham soup.
FAQ about Split Peas and Ham Soup
No, You don’t need to soak them. You can but it isn’t needed if you plan on cooking the soup as long as we do. If you need the soup to cook quicker then the split peas can be soaked to speed up the soup making.
Split peas cook in about 1-2 hours when simmered in a soup when they are not soaked. This is quite quick for a dried legume, kind of like lentils. The split peas, if soaked, will cook in about 45 minutes when simmering in a soup. We choose to not soak them as we want to get the most flavour out of our soup by simmering it longer together but if time is a concern you could soak the split peas and then use them.
Yes, you can use split yellow peas. The colour will be different and the taste a bit less garden pea-like. They may break down more in the simmering and result in a thick soup.
If using whole dried peas, soak them in water overnight or for 8 hours. Make sure they are covered by water that is at least 3-4 inches above the peas as they will expand as they are rehydrated. If the whole peas aren’t soaked they will need to cook MUCH longer than the 1.5 hours of simmering or they will be crunchy and not good to eat yet.
What To Serve With Homemade Pea and Ham Soup
Split pea and ham soup is the best when served with a nice gluten free and allergen friendly bread roll to dip in the soup as you eat it. The buns will help sop up all the bits left in the bowl at the end of eating it so you can get every delicious last drop out of the meal.
Sometimes we serve this soup with a side salad, like our Kale and Cranberry Salad or the Avocado, and Apple Pear salad with a light vinaigrette dressing to offer variety from the dairy free split pea and ham soup. It is a stick to your bones and filling meal for our kids, which I love, as the kids tend not to snack too much after this soup as a meal.
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Allergen Friendly Split Pea and Ham Recipe
- Large Soup Pot
- Utensil for Stirring
- Cutting Board and Knife
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 6 oz Thick Cut Bacon about 8 thick cut slices of bacon, medium diced
- 2 Large Carrots peeled and diced small
- 4 ribs Celery diced small
- 1 ½ Large Onions diced small
- 4 Cloves Garlic minced
- 1 ¼ Lbs Cooked Ham medium diced
- 2 Bay Leaves dried
- 1 teaspoon Marjoram
- 12 C Pork Broth
- 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
- 2 Lbs Dried Split Peas
- 4 C Water
- 1 Leftover Ham Bone from a ham roast
- ¼ -½ teaspoon Salt
- ⅛-¼ teaspoon Pepper
- In a large soup pot over medium-high heat fry the diced thick cut bacon. Fry until fully cooked and starting to crisp.
- Remove the bacon from the pot and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Reserve the bacon for later. Keep the bacon fat in the pot.
- In the bacon fat fry the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic until softened. The onions and garlic should be translucent. It will take about 4-5 mins.
- Add in bacon that has been reserved, ham, bay leaves, marjoram, pork broth, maple syrup, dried split peas, and water. Stir well.
- Put the ham bone in the soup, if using, and let it boil with the soup for added flavour.
- Bring to a soft boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to allow the soup to simmer.
- Simmer for 1.5 hours stirring often, scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the soup doesn’t stick to the pot. Add water if needed, to cover the peas by at least ½ - 1 inch of liquid whilst simmering.
- Remove all parts of the ham bone and the bay leaves from the soup. They can be discarded or composted in some areas. Do not serve the soup with these in.
- Add salt and pepper to your tastes and stir well.
Alternatively, the pork bone broth can be made in an instant pot in an hour.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Contact the manufacturer of products, regarding cross contact and ingredients, to ensure they are safe for you
- Always check ingredients for allergens
- Do not use the same utensils on allergen free food, that previously touched allergens
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
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