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Kalyn's Kitchen

Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote and Red Bell Pepper

The Mexican herb called Epazote adds amazing flavor to this Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote, and Red Bell Pepper and this is a great dinner idea. Use Soup Recipes to find more recipes like this one.

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Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote and Red Bell Pepper (or Carrots) found on KalynsKitchen.com.

Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote, and Red Bell Pepper is one of the soups I’ve been thinking about trying in the new electric pressure cooker I got for Christmas!

I’ve been a long-time fan of split pea soup, but I always made it with carrots until I tried this experiment of replacing the carrots with sweet red bell peppers, for a split pea soup that’s not only delicious and colorful but also lower in carbs and a Phase One recipe for the South Beach Diet. Score!

I used a fairly generous amount of ham and red bell peppers in proportion to the split peas, so you can have this for a carb-conscious diet. Of course if you’re just craving split pea soup and don’t care about that, go ahead and make it with carrots if you prefer.

I’m guessing some of you have never heard of Epazote, a unique Mexican herb I add to my split pea and bean soups. Epazote (pronounced ep-ah-so-teh) adds an interesting subtle flavor to bean dishes (especially refried beans), but it’s also used to reduce the intestinal gas that can be produced by beans.

It grows wild in the U.S. and Mexico and has a slightly sweet flavor. (Some Epazote comes with a lot of woody stems, so when I first get a new batch, I put it into my food processor with the steel blade and process it to a fine powder.) If you don’t have Epazote, you can get it at The Spice House or Penzeys, but you can certainly make this without it too.
Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote, and Red Bell Pepper found on KalynsKitchen.com

Saute chopped onions in olive oil for a few minutes, just until they are starting to soften. (I was making half the recipe to test the addition of red bell peppers, so all these photos show half as much as the recipe makes.) Then add the split peas, chicken or ham stock, bay leaves, and Epazote. If you have ham rinds, add them as well. (If you don’t have rinds, you might want to add some ham flavor base (affiliate link), especially if you’re not using ham stock.) Let this simmer for about an hour, or until the peas are quite soft. You may need to add water a few times while it’s cooking.

When all the peas are softened and many are dissolved into the liquid, it will look like this. Remove the bay leaves and ham rinds (if using.) Then add the chopped ham and red bell peppers (or carrots) and let the soup simmer another 30-40 minutes, adding water if needed.

Here’s how mine looked after it had simmered 40 minutes more (not especially photogenic, but very flavorful.) At this point I decided to use my immersion blender and give this just a few buzzes to slightly break up the red peppers and ham. If you decide to do that, don’t overdo it!

Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote, and Red Bell Pepper found on KalynsKitchen.com

Taste for seasoning and if you’re like me, season with lots of fresh ground black pepper.

More Tasty Soups with Split Peas:

The BEST Split Pea Soup from Food Bloggers ~ Slow Cooker or Pressure cooker
Estonian Yellow Split Pea Soup with Smoked Pork ~ Nami Nami
Yellow Split Pea Soup with Italian Sausage and Green Pepper ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Spanish-Style Split Pea Soup ~ Kayotic Kitchen
CrockPot Split Pea Soup with Chicken Sausage and Carrots ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Split Pea, Sausage, and Preserved Lemon Soup ~ The Perfect Pantry
Indian-Style Split Pea Soup ~ Lisa’s Kitchen
Split Pea Soup with Ham, Mushrooms, Carrots, and Wheatberries ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a new category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote and Red Bell Pepper (or Carrots)

The Mexican herb called Epazote adds amazing flavor to this Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote, and Red Bell Pepper and this is a great dinner anytime!


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken stock, ham stock, or water with chicken soup base
  • 1 lb. green split peas (just over 2 cups)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. dried Epazote (optional)
  • 1-2 diced red bell peppers (or 1-2 cups diced carrots)
  • 2 cups or more diced ham (save the rind, use ham with less than 10% fat for South Beach Diet)
  • optional: Ham flavor base (I use Goya, Better than Bouillon, or Penzey’s brand)
  • salt/pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in large heavy soup pot, then add diced onion and saute about 3-4 minutes, just until onion is starting to soften.
  2. Add chicken stock, ham stock, or water with chicken base, bay leaves, split peas, and Epazote if using. (If ham rind is available, put it in with these ingredients. If not, you may wish to add 1-2 T Ham Flavor Base, affiliate link.)
  3. Cook at a low simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour or until most peas are losing their shape and combining with the liquid. (The length of cooking time will depend partly on the freshness of the dried split peas.)
  4. You may need to add water once or twice while this cooks.
  5. Remove ham rind and bay leaves.
  6. Add red bell pepper (or carrots) and ham and cook 30-40 minutes more, (until red bell pepper or carrots are soft and flavors are well blended.)
  7. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper. (I didn’t add salt, but I added a lot of pepper.)
  8. Serve hot.


If you’re not a South Beach dieter, diced potatoes are good in this too. They should be added with the ham and red bell pepper or after the carrots have cooked about 10 minutes, if using carrots.

Recipe created by Kalyn.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
A low-glycemic soup recipe like this Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote, and Red Bell Pepper would be approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but since split peas are a limited food for Phase One I would eat a small bowl of this with a big green salad or some type of Phase One vegetable on the side. I did use peppers instead of carrots for less carbs, but this is probably still too high in carbs for a traditional low-carb diet plan.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use theRecipes by Diet Type index page to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

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    42 Comments on “Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote and Red Bell Pepper”

  1. Year on the Grill, you're welcome. It's been a favorite of mine since I was a teenager!

    Wandering Chopstick, I'm using dried Epazote, where the stem pieces are sometimes mixed in the the chopped leaves.

  2. I didn't know that's what epazote does. I see fresh epazote at my local market all the time but had no idea what to do with it. I think I would just strip the leaves and chop them up instead of dealing with the stems though?

  3. I have not had this for years… Thanks for the complete recipe!

  4. Dara, thanks. I was delighted by how much I liked this with red peppers. Seemed like a natural flavor combination.

    Lydia, thanks for inspiring me! Glad you like my version.

    Dave, thank you!

    TW, such a perfect use for leftover ham isn't it? The peppers were a winner in this.

  5. Such a pretty soup!

  6. I just made split pea a while back with my leftover holiday ham. I love the idea of using red pepper – what a great burst of flavor and color!

  7. Wonderful soup. Looks quite hearty and delicious.

  8. I'd never have thought of using red peppers, but I'm going to try it in my next batch of split pea soup. Love the photo, too; your soup looks so alive!

  9. Fabulous photo, Kalyn! This sounds like a very hearty and flavorful version of split pea soup. South Beach Diet or not, I like the substitution of red peppers.

  10. Mel, I didn’t know that epazote is so easy to grow. Maybe I’ll try growing some here (in a contained space!) Thanks for the pronunciation tip too.

  11. The use of epazote in split pea
    soup is so logical! I’m going to
    make it soon, using leaves from
    my monster bay tree. Then I will
    use a sprig from a surviving epazote plant. I say “surviving”
    because my backyard would be COVERED by the thousands of germinating seeds if I didn’t do a quick removal of seedlings. By the
    way, the S. Texas/Mexican way we
    pronounce it is eh-pah-SO-teh.
    Thanks for your great blog.- Mel

  12. Your soup sounds gooood. I could use some right now. So cold here and I’ve been doing a lot of walking in the cold. Brrr… Interesting, this epazote. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    I look forward to your podcast. Cool!


  13. Mmmmmm – sounds really good & perfect for a cold, snowy day!

  14. I was going to suggest you start growing an epazote plant (not difficult, I’m told), but then I remembered what’s currently happening with your outdoor herb garden! brr… (Major ingredient in black beans, too. Though the guy in my Latino grocery store snickered a little when I asked for some one time years ago. He probably thought I had a real problem.)

  15. Sailu, thanks for visiting. We are all learning a lot from each other aren’t we? It’s great.

    LisaSD, yes, the split peas come dry, close to the dried beans. They are sold in small packages that contain about 2 cups and bigger packages that contains about 4 cups. There are also yellow ones, which I haven’t ever cooked with.

  16. Sounds good! So, do the split peas come dry? In a can? Forgive my ignorance!

    I’ll be offline a bit but will be sure to check back for your message!

  17. Epazote..is new to me,Kalyn.Got to learn so much about different kinds of herbs..thanks to your initiative..:):)
    Btw,look forward for your podcast.

  18. Mae, I am sorry to report that I didn’t take even one picture of the soup. About that kerosene smell that one of the internet sources reported, I think that must be the fresh plant. I think dried epazote has quite a pleasant smell.

  19. I can’t wait to see/hear your christmas message. I will try to log on! That’s if i’m not banned from blogging on that day. LOL.

  20. The soup sounds delish i like ham/bacon in soups. Any chance of a photo to drool on?

    Epazote… sounds interesting. No, i haven’t heard of this one. Gas warding though smells of kerozene. I’m puzzled and curious.