Split peas are the pressure cooker’s forbidden food – too thick and foamy to be cooked without a care.  Here’s my version of this classic American soup and a list of precautions to cook this magical legume safely.

About this recipe…

A reader posted quite a long list of requests in the forum for recipes he’d like to see on this website. I’d been meaning to make this one in particular because I had never really cooked green split-peas and I wanted to confirm their cooking time for the time chart.

Split-pea pressure cooking times online and in books and manuals are anywhere from 4 to 40 minutes. Lorna Sass, a prolific and famous pressure cooker cookbook author, writes 10. My testing found that 5 minutes, plus the requisite Natural Release,  gets the split-peas to just-staring-to-fall-apart-tender with just enough edges sticking up to make the soup hearty.

In case you’re wondering why this recipe uses the same cooking time for both stove top pressure cookers – especially since the density of legumes usually dictates otherwise – it’s because the extra time the electric pressure cooker will need for Natural Release compensates for the extra cooking time the split peas need.

Since I’ve never made, or even tasted, split pea soup I started by converting a split-peas soup recipe pretty much without too many changes- a typical soup that requires stock and ham cubes. The soup itself was “ok.” But it was a ruddy  brownish color (not bright green anymore) and whenever a piece of ham made its way onto the spoon it was just spongy and tasteless – all the flavor having been transferred to the soup.  So, I used the porkiest product I could find and I naturally went straight for smoked pancetta (bacon!). I made the soup again, this time using only water – to keep it green.

Finally, a soup that lets you really taste the natural sweetness of split peas and give you an emerald-green soup plus the occasional crunchy salty bit.  Beyond experimenting, split peas have earned a permanent place in my pantry, and I hope that with this recipe they will earn a spot in yours!


Split-pea warning and precautions

Most pressure cooker manuals include a standard line warning against pressure cooking split-peas primarily because they can gum-up the safety valves.  Split-pea soup can be so thick the split peas can hide a bubble of super-hot steam that will pop and splatter on the cook if the pressure cooker is opened using a fast pressure release method.

Follow ALL of these precautions when pressure cooking them:

  • DO NOT make this recipe if you’ve never used a pressure cooker before (follow our lessons and get to know how your pressure cooker operates).
  • Ensure the gasket and valves of your pressure cooker are good working order.
  • NEVER fill the pressure cooker more than half-full with split peas and their cooking liquid.
  • Keep at least a tablespoon of fat as indicated in the recipe – if you’re not using pancetta/bacon add oil.
  • ALWAYS release pressure using ONLY Natural Release (do not use the valve, don’t use cold-water quick, don’t use base immersion).
  • Clean the lid and pressure valves thoroughly after pressure cooking split-peas.
  • For stove top-pressure cookers: supervise the rise to pressure closely to make sure the cooker does not go into over-pressure.


Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
5 L or larger none 5 min. High(2) Natural
4.7 from 12 reviews
Split Pea & Smoky Pancetta Soup
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: serves 4-6
  • Serving size: ⅙th (about 1½ cups)
  • Calories: 171.5
  • TOTAL Fat: 7.6g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 18.4g
  • Sugar Carbs: 4.0g
  • Sodium: 404.8mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 6.3g
  • Protein: 8.5g
  • Cholesterol: 13mg
Recipe type: Main, Pressure Cooker
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Follow the precautions in the article that accompanies this recipe and DO NOT double this recipe unless your pressure cooker is 10L or larger.
  • 3.5 oz (100g) bacon or smoked pancetta, sliced into lardons
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, large diced
  • 2 cups (410g) dried green split peas, rinsed
  • 6 cups (1.5L) water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Add the pancetta to the cold pressure cooker base on medium heat (brown/saute' setting for electrics). When the fat begins to render and the pancetta begins to fry in the fat, stir it around and let it sizzle until crispy. Using a fork, or slotted spoon, remove the pancetta - leaving the rendered fat in the base of the pressure cooker- and set aside.
  2. Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the base of the pressure cooker and saute' them in the pancetta fat until the onions have softened (about 5 more minutes) - use the wetness of the veggies to lift the brown fond that will have formed on the base.
  3. Add the split peas, water bay leaf, and salt. Mix well and make sure that the pressure cooker is no more than ½ full (the 6.5l I'm in the photos is only ⅓ full)
  4. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
  5. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 5 minutes pressure cooking time.
  6. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (20 to 30 minutes).
  7. Mix into the soup about half of the crispy pancetta, remove the bay leaf, and serve the soup with the rest of the pancetta bits as garnish.
Prepping the veggies for split-pea soup.
Prepping the veggies for split-pea soup.

Split Pea and Smoky Pancetta Soup (pressure cooker)
Pressure Cooked Split Pea Soup
Pressure Cooker Split- Pea Soup

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  1. This looks a little ingredient heavy Laura.

    My winter staple pea and ham soup uses just three ingredients: split peas, bacon bones and water. Not sure why I persist in calling it pea and HAM when I use bacon.

    My method (not PC!):
    Soak peas overnight. Rinse.
    Add peas and bacon bones to a stock pot.
    Cover with water. And then some.
    Simmer very slowly several hours then allow to cool Fish out the bones and pull the meat off them.
    It should be fall apart tender Return the meat to the soup. Discard the bones.
    Reheat and serve with croutons.

    Any suggestions on converting this one? The above won’t work as the time won’t be enough to get the bones to that fall apart state needed. I have tried using chopped bacon rather than bones as you have above, but it loses a lot of flavour.

    1. That sounds very simple!

      In my testing, I only focused on getting the split pea cooking time down to the shortest time needed to have them fall apart – frankly I don’t know what would happen if you pressure cook them as long as the ham bone stock would need to be made.

      Perhaps you can do the bacon-bone stock before you add the split peas?

      We cannot get smoked ham on-the-bone here, so I could not include that in testing this soup recipe even though many recipes do call for that!!



      1. A lot of non-PC recipes for split pea soup divide the peas — adding half early for a smooth base and half later for brightness and textural contrast. So maybe a two-step cook?

  2. Being Canadian I have seen a lot of pea soup. In logging and mining camps they will serve it for breakfast along side the baked beans.

    many Canadians only make pea soup when they have a ham bone, but French Canadians will make it whenever they have dried peas of any colour. Sometimes they have ham, sometimes they don’t. Never heard of it made with bacon or pancetta, but I am sure someone in Quebec does that too.

  3. This was one of the first recipes I tried in my new IP DUO 60. I put in more celery and celery leaves, as I love that flavor with split peas. I used bacon, and half peas and half green lentils, and after using the cooking time recommended I added some time. The peas were creamy and the lentils had some texture, and we liked the combo. I stirred in a heaping teaspoon of curry powder with the sauteing veggies, as well as a couple tsp of chopped garlic. Thanks so much for the recipe, it is definitely a keeper!

  4. I made this recipe just the way you wrote it. I didn’t make any changes. It was delicious. Thanks!

  5. I tried this in a Fissler PC and it still took over 20 minutes cooking time to get the peas anywhere near to be soft, as I was in a rush I also had to use a blender in the end. In the end the soup was a little bland so perhaps next time I will use more ham or bacon to improve taste.

  6. I make the exact same recipe from hip pressure cooker and my family loves it.
    Not to many ingredients!
    Very nutritional.

  7. Hi…
    I have the IP 5qt & wondered if this recipe would be ok? Thnks for giving us this.

    1. Probably, but watch the fill level.
      Reading Lauras notes, she used a 6.5 litre pressure cooker. She ended up with it 1/3 full. That means the total volume she used was 2.1 litres or 2.3 quarts. This is JUST under the magic half full line for legumes in a 5 qt pot.

      Still she may have just had a rough look. Or your onion might be bigger or…
      So watch that you don’t go over the half mark. Cut back on the water a little if you need to. You can always add more at the end. Or use a smaller onion. Or carrot. Or leave them out. Personally I only use ham, peas and water in mine.

  8. I was able just now to see my original post and Greg, thank you for your help. I don’t know what happened earlier…I scrolled & scrolled & neither posts were there. So sorry to all.
    I’m so encouraged I can give this a try. Appreciate everything on this site. It’s wonderful !
    ~ Cheers ~

    1. VitaZgal, this site and your web borwse will show you slightly older pages to conserve resources. When you don’t see yourself logged-in or a comment updated, simply refresh the page. On the computer hold the shift-key down to re-fresh the page, on a mobile device tug down the menu and choose to updated or reload the page.



  9. Can I substitute broth for the water?

    1. Yes, you can use broth instead of water, but it will change the color of the soup to brown-ish though.



  10. Made this tonight, finished my 2nd bowl, might have a 3rd! Made in my IP, followed recipe exactly, used bacon. Tasty. Going to make it again using applewood smoked bacon, curious how that will taste vs. the cheapie plain bacon I used. It’s a quick go-to recipe.

  11. I am so new to PC but have loved everything I made so far. I added garlic and used applewood bacon. I cooked on high pressure for 5 minutes on the soup setting and then let the pressure drop off naturally. I did not soak my peas, I just put in the pot dry with the water. Everything turned out very good. I think next time I will let pressure drop naturally for about 20 minutes and then do a quick release, I think this will give the peas a little more texture. My peas came out very creamy which is good too but I would like more texture.

  12. I’m new to pressure cooking and am still a bit skittish, but I can’t resist experimenting and would like to add some potatoes to this recipe. Is there a safe way to do this?

    1. Have you tried making this soup as-is? I ask because this soup comes out nice and thick and a little chunky. Potatoes won’t add any flavor, or thickness (it’s already there) – but if you want to tinker, go for it. You don’t need to make any other adjustments to the recipe other than make sure it doesn’t go over the half-way mark with the additional ingredients.

      Let us know how it turned out!



    2. I just made split pea soup, as my 3rd experiment with the IP DUO60. It was delicious — rather sweet and creamy. I used beef instead of ham and added potatos, sweet peppers, parsnip, and a big onion. I hadn’t yet read Laura’s recipe above, and through ignorance took no precautions against clogging the valves. But it wasn’t a problem. I used the meat/stew setting set to 15 minutes and left the IP alone to release pressure gradually, at the end.

      (Flavoring: Aleppo red pepper, minced garlic clove, teaspoon of herbes de France (rosemary, thyme, …), crushed anchovies, dash of soy sauce, dash of Worcestershire.)

      1. Greg Lee, when it gets to split pea soup weather, again, you should give my version a shot. You’ll find that, thanks to the pressure cooker, you’ll get more flavor with fewer ingredients. ; )



        1. I wouldn’t like to give up the parsnip. I like ham flavoring split pea soup, but I didn’t happen to have any on hand.
          Let me ask you about pancetta. I’ve never used it, and I don’t know where to find it here in Hawaii. I understand it’s not smoked, though some people seem to like a smoky flavor in split pea soup. So why not use American style bacon?

          1. Greg, this recipe calls for bacon. Smoked pancetta IS bacon.

            I mention both because depending on what country the cook reading the recipe might live in “bacon” may not be available. The recipes here are written both in ounces and milliliters to accommodate everyone. : )



            P.S. Un-smoked pancetta il salt-cured like prosciutto – but with more lard.

          2. There’s always liquid smoke, (if you like a smoky flavor.)

  13. Just made this, before reading the comments…I increased the cooking time to 15 minutes as I was concerned the 5 was a typo. The soup is fine at 15, but looks like it also would have worked at 5? And, this is the first time my pea soup is indeed pea green! A success!

    1. Not a type-o. That’s all it takes!

      BTW, you’ll find that my recommended cooking times are quite different from what you might see on other websites. That’s because I’ve personally tested the least amount of time needed to cook something. : )



  14. I love split pea soup and it’s tradition for me to prepare it using stock made from the Christmas ham bone. I received an Instant Pot as a Christmas gift and was happy to find a recipe for split pea soup prepared in a pressure cooker. Followed this recipe – except I omitted the pancetta since I was using ham stock instead of water. Soup turned out excellent and was prepared in about a third of the normal time thanks to the Instant Pot! I was a bit scared by the warnings about the dangers of preparing split peas in a pressure cooker. I think the key is to be cautious about not filling the pot too full. I had no problems and was probably a bit too conservative (I could have filled the pot a bit more and had more soup!!). I was so impressed by this website and the instructions that I ordered the Hip Pressure Cooking cookbook.

  15. Boo! Too much water I’m guessing… I threw in a hamhock instead of bacon – still, too watery and not creamy at all. Gonna try again with less water. Oh, and maybe I missed this directive but – TURN OFF THE INSTANT POT – then let pressure naturally release… If you leave it in warm mode it will take an hour to release and you will be left with a watery “soup.” Bummer. Thank God I had some bacon in the fridge…that kept it out of the garbage. No, really. Oh, and I added one potato – diced. Again, made the difference between an utter fail and a single meal…honestly, not so sure I’ll bother with leftovers at this point.

    1. Was it a smoked or fresh ham hock? In the future, when you alter a recipe such as this one you need to be aware of the liquid the ingredients you add contribute. I’m glad to read you were able to salvage the soup. Now that you know what went wrong, you wont’ make this mistake again.



  16. Hi

    Many thanks – a great recipe. Did this to the letter using French Tefal/Clipso pressure cooker.

    I followed the recipe to the letter and it was delicious – best ever.

    I have never had any success with green split peas/haricots/chick peas until I used your website (although I always followed the recipes on the packets).

    I use my pressure cooker all the time (and have done for thirty years).

    A big, big thank you from London,


    1. Welcome Mike, and I’m so glad you found our timings helpful to getting you perfect beans! Great to hear you enjoyed the recipe – my family asks me to make it frequently, too!



  17. Laura- you are such a blessing! Your cooking times have helped me to change my life! I’m so pleased (and getting a bit famous around here… tee-hee) just from your bean and legume help. Your site is the only source I trust after doing tons of homework and testing. Anywhoo- I am Muslim and so don’t eat pork; in fact, I usually avoid meat. I wanted to share with you everyone an impromptu recipe I made which could probably be refined, but was so easy and so satisfying! I simply put in a half onion chopped and 2 cups split peas to 4 cups water. (I hadn’t checked the cooking time- that’s what a rush I was in.) Did it for 15 (now I know it could be done more quickly.) When it had released naturally, I stirred in a Tbsp of vegan beef bouillon (for the 4c H2O) and liquid smoke and water to taste and to thin. Excellent! (I always add my bouillon and flavors at the end to preserve color and texture.)

    1. Thanks for putting your trust in me, Amina. And I love your vegan halal variation – I see you follow my same cooking philosophy: getting more flavor with few well-chosen ingredients.



  18. I used to like split pea soup as a kid; it was one of the reasons I bought a pressure cooker, to make some healthy hearty soups.
    This soup was easy to make and so satisfying. Thanks for the recipe.

  19. I finally made Pea & Ham soup your way. Sort of.
    I had a ham bone in the freezer left over from Christmas, so I used that as the base for a stock (20 min high pressure with a few veggie and herb scraps). Then I used that in lieu of water in your recipe. I used the fat on top of the stock to fry the aromatics. The picked meat – what little there was went into the soup after pressure cooking. Oh and I quickly fried a little prosciutto to crispness to use as a garnish.

    Annoyingly, Pam likes your version better than mine.

  20. New to electric pressure cooking. Can’t wait to try this split pea as my husband loves it.

  21. Great recipe and my first with my IP Ultra. Used chicken broth and added a few chili flakes. Thanks for your website, insights, and recipes.

  22. Thanks so much for this recipe, it came out as expected, and so comforting! Appreciate all the info that came along with this recipe (and the others I’ve tried).

  23. Do you think you could use turkey bacon here instead or will it be too lean?

    1. You can use turkey bacon, but you will need to add oil as per the recipe notes- as pork bacon would provide fat to reduce foaming that the turkey bacon does not have.



  24. Damn you! I am addicted to this soup!! :-D LOL! Seriously, thank you so much! This and several other of your recipes are just perfect.

  25. Fine recipe. I’ve never had a problem with split peas, but maybe it’s because I use an 8 quart pressure cooker and never go above one third with legumes of any kind. I bought an Instant Pot a few years ago, but hardly ever use it because of how long it takes to get up to speed. Nevertheless, I appreciate how it’s made so many people aware of the joys of pressure cooking.
    Thank you.

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