2 ratings

Smoky Yellow Split Pea Soup with Crispy Anchos

The only winter soup you'll need this year
(Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune; Lisa Schumacher / food styling)

If you have leftover ham that's just begging to be whipped into a new and exciting dish, try this yellow split pea soup. Toss in carrots and sweet potato to add some color to the smoky dish. 

This recipe is by JeanMarie Brownson and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune 

Ready in
1 h and 55 m
40 m
(prepare time)
1 h and 15 m
(cook time)
Calories Per Serving


For the soup

  • 1 bag (16 ounces) yellow split peas
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, about 1 pound, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 celery rib, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 small ham hocks or shanks, about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds (or smoked turkey drumsticks)
  • 2 to 3 Cups diced smoked ham or smoked turkey breast, optional
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper

For the topping

  • 1/3 Cup expeller pressed canola, sunflower or safflower oil
  • 3 dried ancho chiles, cored, seeded, each torn into 4 pieces
  • 2 medium shallots, halved, very thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 Teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, optional
  • Chopped fresh cilantro


For the soup

Rinse split peas in a colander and check them for stones or pebbles.

Heat olive oil in the bottom of a large 4-quart saucepan over medium heat.

Add carrots, sweet potato, celery and onion. Cook and stir, 5 minutes.

Stir in garlic, rinsed peas and broth. Nestle the ham hocks into the pot.

Heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring often, over medium-low heat, until the peas are tender and falling apart, about 1 hour.

Remove the ham hocks, chop any meat on them (no fat or gristle) and return the meat to the soup.

Stir in the optional ham.

Taste the soup, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

For the topping

For the soup topping, heat canola oil in small heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.

Use tongs to toast ancho pieces in the oil for just a few seconds, until they change color and start to crisp.

Drain on paper toweling.

When cool, use your fingers to roughly crumble the chiles into small pieces.

Add shallots to the canola oil.

Cook and stir over low heat until shallots are tender, about 2 minutes.

Stir in garlic and cumin seeds.

Cook another minute or so until fragrant.

Remove from heat and cool.

Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt, plenty of black pepper and the orange zest.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with a dollop of the yogurt, some of the shallot-cumin oil and crumbled anchos. Sprinkle with cilantro.