John’s Split Pea Soup

4 slices bacon
2 large ham hocks, meaty

2 lbs split peas (dry) rinsed and drained
2 medium yellow onions, minced
6 bulbs garlic, minced
4 stalks celery w/leaves, chopped into ½” cubes.
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
1 large box chicken broth [or more]
Water as needed

½ tsp thyme (French)
2 bay leaves
¼ cup parsley, chopped fine and added with peas
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

3 cups leeks chopped (1/3 white, 1/3 lt. green 1/3 green) substitute for yellow onions
½ cup Swiss chard stems, chopped and added in lieu of onions
1-2 cups leafy greens [Swiss chard, collards, kale, arugula, parsley, celery leaves, etc.] stems removed chopped fine and added with peas
½ tsp rosemary or oregano added with peas

Cut up bacon into ½” squares. Sauté bacon in a large stock pot over medium heat until crisp and brown. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. When cool, crumble and set aside. Do not discard fat.

Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots (and/or options) to bacon fat. Sauté until vegetables begins to soften-about 6-12 minutes.

Add chicken broth, split peas, ham hock, thyme, bay leaves, and options (if desired) and enough water to cover all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until peas start to break down- between 45 and 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. More water may need to be added.

Remove lid and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes, uncovered, until desired consistency is reached. Remove ham hock and bay leaves, chop-up ham and return to soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour soup into individual bowls. Garnish with with toppings of your choice: crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, croutons, etc.

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