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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. Marcia, so glad you have enjoyed it. And I do love those Goya ham packets!

  2. I've made this several times and like it. I use carrots instead of red peppers. I use ham steak and a ham goya packet. I do not use Epizote. Sometimes I do a double batch and freeze it. Thanks so much for sharing Kalyn. 🙂

  3. Kirsten, interesting that it's used in Germany too, as I always associate it with Mexican cooking. Glad I could introduce you to something new!

  4. Kalyn, just learned something new. The English word epazote. I know the German one and know that this herb is used with cooking peas and beans. I have actually never used it myself. As a big soup fan I should. Thanks, I will keep my eyes open for epazote. Great looking soup by the way!

  5. Thanks, will correct it!

  6. it's pronounced ep ah so teh the 'e' in Spanish is pronounced eh, not ay (is in day) it's not ho-zay it's ho-seh

  7. Gretchen, I love Epazote in bean and pea soups; hope you like it!

  8. ooo thanks for the heads up of using the epazote!! I live in North Dakota so we don't do much exotic up here, but in the interest of a well rounded spice/ herb stash, I DID order some from spicehouse, but have yet to use it. I have a pot of pea soup going in the crock pot (My own version) I'll add a dash to it and see what happens!! Thanks!!

  9. Heidi, glad you liked it, and lucky you to have a big ham bone!

  10. Very delicious. I didn't use carrots/pepper or epazote…but it was still great! I boiled the bones from a giant ham and used that broth. YUUUUM.

  11. That soup looks good! I am going to have to try hunting for the epazote again.

  12. Mmmmm….yum! love the addition of the red pepper!

  13. This looks warm and homey. How perfect for winter! I have to say I have never tried Epazote either.

  14. I am salivating for this soup today in our cold inversion temps in SLC. I love having recipe ingredients on hand (leftovers like ham and a packet of split peas). Putting it in my crockpot right now and going out to buy Epazote to add to it.
    Thanks, Kalyn.

  15. ooh…I would love to have a bowl of that soup of yours. A great way to warm up during cold winters.

  16. I, too, love split pea soup. It's amazing that it tastes so good, considering what it looks like! I made a bunch of it from the Christmas ham bone. Yummy.

  17. Sophie, thanks. This was really good!

    Jordan, I think making soup is one of the most fun types of cooking. Soup is hard to mess up, and while it's cooking your house smells great!

    Debbi, you're welcome; hope you like it.

  18. I'll have to try that epazote, it sounds interesting. The soup looks delicious, I have a ham hock, I think I'll use it with this, thanks!

  19. I've only just gotten use to the idea of making my own soup. The soup here looks so good that I may just have to get over myself and do it!

  20. A georgous & comforting winter , good for you,…soup!

    Marvellous, Kalyn!