Updated: Dec 28, 2022
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1½ cups)
3 celery ribs, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
2 large carrots, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 (16-ounce) bag dried split peas, rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ pound sliced smoked ham, 1/4 inch thick, cut into bite-size pieces.
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Place the bacon in a large soup pot. Set the pot over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon crisps and fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate, reserving 2 to 4 tablespoons of fat in the pot.
Add the onion, celery, and carrots to the bacon fat and cook, using a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of chicken stock if the vegetables begin to brown too quickly. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes more.
Add the chicken stock, split peas, thyme, and paprika. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are very tender, about 45 minutes.
Stir in the ham and bacon until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with Parmesan, if desired, and serve.
Note: If you’d like the soup to be slightly creamier, transfer 1/3 of the soup to a blender or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Return the blended soup to the pot.