Grochówka: Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock

Grochowa / 'Grochówka' na Golonce

This Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock is a fragrant, slightly smokey broth and packed with tender root vegetables. Silky texture of mushy split peas contrasts perfectly with whole peas – which soften, yet remain whole.

This recipe makes a big batch of soup, so consider freezing leftovers in single portions for easy lunches in the chilly winter weeks to come.

For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.

In Poland, Split Pea Soup is known as ‘Grochowa’ (pron.: gro-hova) or ‘Grochówka’ (pron.: gro-hoovkah). It’s one of those army-style meals, present in the military field kitchens.

It’s also a popular offering at roadside inns and bars; as well as during open-air parties and festivals. 

Dried peas are one of the most important ingredients in traditional Polish cuisine. For centuries, they were considered and treated as a grain. Dried peas were valued enormously in a practice of a Catholic religious fasting. That’s because even though they’re not an animal product, they’re cheap, filling and nutritious. (source)

Today, ‘Grochówka’ is usually brewed on meat broth – on ribs, ham hocks and/or bones, often smoked. For even more smokiness, bacon or kiełbasa gets added as well.

Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make this Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock?

Ingredients for Split Pea Soup: ham hock, smoked bacon, potatoes, carrots, celery root, parsley root, split peas, whole peas, pepper, salt, dried marjoram

Most of the ingredients should be available in any major supermarket; if not – you can order them online.

In this recipe, we’re using a fresh ham hock as a base for the broth; and it takes 2-3 hours to cook. To speed up the process, use a chicken broth instead – either homemade or from the carton.

The mix of dried peas (split AND whole) works beautifully here. Whole peas make this soup’s texture more varied, more interesting. But if you can’t find them in your store, simply double the amount of split peas.

Internationally, parsley and celery roots can be tricky to source. If in doubt, refer back to this post on “How to Substitute Ingredients In Polish Recipes”.

Equipment-wise, all you need is a large cooking pot. I use a 10 quart (just under 10 litre) pot. It only gets filled half-way; but it’s convenient to have some extra space.

How should you serve this Split Pea Soup?

‘Grochówka’ pairs best with a slice of fresh rye bread. In some regions, it’s also served with a generous portion of sauerkraut in the middle of the plate.

Warning: This Split Pea Soup is very rich, meaty and filling – if you serve it as a starter, it may be tricky to fit the second course.

Can you make this ‘Grochówka’ Split Pea Soup another way?

Yes, you can:

  • Besides ham hocks, another popular choice are ribs, but feel free to improvise.
  • To save time, you can use a store-bought chicken or mixed-meat broth (reduced-sodium).
  • If you can’t find dried whole peas, just double the amount of split peas.

Some recipes mention soaking peas before cooking, but I haven’t tried that method yet.

In a slow cooker / crock-pot: combine all ingredients (omitting potatoes, bacon and seasoning – salt, pepper, marjoram). Cover and cook on a ‘low’ setting for 8-10 hours. Mid-way through, add chopped potatoes and chopped & fried bacon pieces. When done, remove the ham hock and set aside to cool. Stir the soup well and season generously with salt, marjoram and ground black pepper. Add in shredded ham hock meat and serve.

What diets is this Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock suitable for?

This Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock is gluten-free and dairy-free. 

How long can you keep this  ‘Grochówka’ Split Pea Soup in the fridge?

This soup tastes best when warm. Once you’ve served it, don’t keep it out for more than 3 hours at room temperature.

If you allow any leftovers to cool, move the soup into a container with a lid and refrigerate. Consume within 3 days.

Can I freeze this Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock?

Yes, this recipe can be frozen. Freeze the soup as soon as it is cold enough to do so. Move it into a freezer-friendly container or a bag, and label it with a description and a date. Aim to consume within 3 months.

How do I reheat this ‘Grochówka’ Split Pea Soup?

From chilled: Pour the soup into a saucepan and reheat on the stove (on a medium heat), until hot throughout.10-12 minutes is usually enough. 

Alternatively, pour the soup into a microwave-friendly container, cover loosely with a lid. Heat up for 4 to 6 minutes until hot. Stir well before serving.

From frozen: Allow the soup to thaw, then reheat in the microwave for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir, then cook further for 5 to 7 minutes until hot.

Alternatively, allow the soup to defrost and reheat on the stove. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes on a medium heat, until hot throughout.

Smacznego!

A plate of Grochówka - a Polish Style  Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock; served with rye bread
Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock

Grochówka: Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock

Yield: 12-14
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes

This Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock is a fragrant, slightly smokey broth and packed with tender root vegetables. Silky texture of mushy split peas contrasts perfectly with whole peas – which soften, yet remain whole.

Ingredients

  • 1.1 lb ham hock, fresh or smoked, bone-in
  • 3-4 bay leaves, optional
  • 4-5 allspice berries, optional
  • 10-10.5 oz (280-300 g) smoked bacon in a slab; unsliced
  • 10.5 oz (300 g) split peas, dried, yellow
  • 10.5 oz (300 g) whole peas, dried, yellow
  • 2 medium carrots (4 oz, 110 g)
  • 1 parsley root (2.8 oz, 80 g)
  • 3.5 oz (100 g; a chunk) celery root
  • 2 medium potatoes (6 oz, 170 g)
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp back pepper, ground

Instructions

  1. Place the ham hock in a large cooking pot. Pour in enough water to cover the knuckle completely. 
  2. Add in a few bay leaves and allspice berries. Cook on a low-medium heat, partially covering with a lid. [If the water evaporates too quickly in the process, and it doesn’t cover the meat anymore - pour in some H2O.] Cook until the meat is soft and falls off the bone. The exact cooking time will depend on the hock’s size, meat-to-bone ratio, the size of the pot… so you’ll have to test its doneness empirically (just poke it with a fork). In my case, it took 2.5 hours. 
  3. Fish the ham hock out; leave it on a plate to chill. Once the hock is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, shred, and set aside to stir back into the soup at the very end (discard the bones and any skin).
  4. Peel the carrots, parsley and celery root, chop them into small cubes. Add the chopped veggies into the broth.
  5. (optional) Cut the smoked skin off the bacon slab and add it into the cooking pot. 
  6. Chop the bacon slab into cubes and fry them in a frying pan. There’s no need to add any more fat for frying - enough should render from the bacon itself. When the bacon cubes turn lightly golden, add them into the cooking pot, laving the excess fat behind.
  7. Add split peas and whole peas to the broth. Cook for 40-60 minutes on medium-low; stirring occasionally. If you feel like the soup gets too thick; add some water or chicken broth.
  8. When the time is up, let’s add the potatoes: peel them, chop into cubes and drop into the soup. 
  9. Season with marjoram, salt and pepper. Check the flavour; add more seasoning if needed. Cook for another 20 minutes, until potatoes turn soft.
  10. We’re nearly done. Split peas turned mushy, thickening the soup. Whole peas softened, but remained whole. 
  11. Retrieve the bacon skin from the pot, discard it. Add in shredded ham hock meat and cook the soup for another 3-5 minutes to warm the meat up.
  12. Serve hot with a slice of rye bread.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 493mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 15gSugar: 15gProtein: 29g

Save this “Grochówka: Polish Split Pea Soup” recipe to your “POLISH SOUPS” Pinterest board! And let’s be friends on Pinterest!

Sources:
“Kanon Kuchni Polskiej” (“the Canon of Polish Cuisine”) by prof. Jarosław Dumanowski and Maciej Nowicki. Available (in Polish) here.

Kasia Kronenberger

Kasia Kronenberger changes the (often unfavourable) perceptions of Polish food through digital storytelling. She creates purpose-led, bite-sized videos, exploring her cultural identity through food. As a self-taught home cook, Kasia enjoys trying out recipes from old Polish cookbooks. She’s keen of all things smoked or fermented.


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