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The chicharos served in a large, white bowl.

Sopa de Chicharos (Cuban Split Pea Soup)

This Cuban style split pea soup is called sopa de chicharos, potaje de chicharos, or simply chicharos in Spanish. It’s a thick soup that’s loaded with split peas, vegetables and smoked pork.
Course Soup
Cuisine Cuban
Keyword split peas
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 553kcal
Author Elizabeth


  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion finely diced
  • 2 Medium Carrots diced
  • 1 Celery Rib diced
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1-1½ pound Smoked Ham Shanks Ham Hocks or a meaty Ham Bone
  • 6 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 12 ounces Dried Green or Yellow Split Peas sorted, rinsed and soaked
  • 1 Large Potato 10-12 ounces, peeled and cut into ½-1 inch pieces
  • Salt to taste if needed


  • Sort, rinse and soak the split peas for approximately 20-30 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic, oregano, cumin and black pepper to the pot. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the ham shanks, chicken broth and the bay leaf to the pot. Stir well.
  • Drain the split peas using a mesh strainer. Add them to the pot and raise the heat to high. When the broth comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot.
  • Cook the soup for 40 minutes. Keep the broth at a simmer. If it’s boiling too vigorously, lower the heat a bit. Stir occasionally.
  • Remove the ham from the pot and set it on a cutting board to cool.
  • Add the diced potatoes to the soup. If you were keeping them in water make sure to drain before adding them in. Cover the pot and continue cooking.
  • When the ham is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the fatty skin and bones. Chop the meat, return it to the pot and stir well.
  • Cover the pot and continue cooking until the potatoes are fork tender, stirring occasionally. This should take 20-25 minutes.
  • As the split peas fall apart the soup will thicken. Stir it more often, making sure to get to the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking. It may also be necessary to knock the heat down just a bit if it’s boiling too vigorously.
  • Remove the bay leaf from the pot and discard. Taste the chicharos and add salt if needed. As a reference, we did not add extra salt to ours.
  • Serve the soup with a piece of crusty bread or a side of white rice, if desired.



If the soup is too thick: Add about ¼ cup of water or chicken broth at a time, stir and decide if more is needed. Keep in mind that the soup will thicken further as it cools.


Calories: 553kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 1108mg | Potassium: 1180mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3511IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 5mg