I am making Ham and Split Pea Soup, however I only have whole dried peas. Will the shell on the whole pea make the soup more difficult to digest? Will the shell spoil the flavor? Or is it just adding more fiber and holding the legume together giving the soup a different texture?

Why do Chefs seem to prefer the split pea over the whole pea?

  • One of the commercially-available canned ham and pea soups I had was whole peas, and it was quite good, fibrous skin pieces and all.
    – zanlok
    Feb 2, 2011 at 14:04
  • 1
    Soak whole peas in cold water overnight. They cook more thoroughly and create a hearty thick soup. I add only potoatoes and ham to my soup, and onion.
    – user12887
    Oct 12, 2012 at 0:05

6 Answers 6


Whole peas will take longer to cook than split peas, but they won't ruin the soup. Split peas will also break apart more to thicken the soup, while whole peas will remain mostly intact. If you want a similar effect, you could use a stick blender to partially liquefy the soup after it's cooked.

  • Just to add in, assuming you're using ham hocks to make the soup, you're probably going to be cooking it for 8-12 hours anyway. The shells should break down over that amount of time.
    – Matthew
    Sep 13, 2013 at 15:52

Today when I started my soup I discovered that I had not bought split peas but dried big peas.

Yes they took longer, and they looked scarier with those gross little clear shell things attached but after I whizzed them with the stick blender, my soup looked just like it was supposed to. And I don't think that the taste changed one bit.

So if you've bought the wrong peas, don't fret pet, just cook longer and whizz. The soup was delicious!


Whole peas are better to use. When you reheat the soup does thicken. Considering the size of my soup pot and all the family that want some this is a better idea to use whole peas if you can find them. They are hard to find in my area


I'm from the Northeast originally, and my mom always used whole peas to make her soup. When we moved to Florida, she stopped making it because we couldn't find the whole peas and she didn't like the texture of split peas. I have had the good fortune of finding a large bag of whole, dried peas recently when I happened to stop into an Indian type grocery store. I'm going to try to get the best of both worlds and use half whole and half split peas. I like the nostalgia of the pea skin in my soup but also like the heartier texture of the split pea.


Back east my mom preferred whole pea not split, as she says it made the soup too mushy. I had to seen for whole peas as we can't find them in California. We do have salt pork which is great and I like a ham hock, onion it served with corn bread.


I have always used whole peas for my soup, but they are very hard to find. I went on the internet and found them. Had to buy 12 - 1 lb. bags, but at least I can now make 12 batches! I like using the whole peas for a more brothy soup if desired. I also put potatoes in my soup and everyone loves it!

  • 1
    I live in the South,Fla. and one day waiting for my wife, I was parked next to a grocery store called Bravo's went in and looked around and found a shelf full of dry whole green peas, I also have found other stores in the area that also sell similar items. They all seem to be Goya products. i was parked
    – user26168
    Jul 27, 2014 at 17:16

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