I took the picture above the night I made the soup. It tasted delicious but was a little watery and I was afraid I had put too much water in it. The next day, when I pulled the container out of the refrigerator to ladle some out for lunch, it was just the right consistency - thick and solid. For some strange reason it gets me every time and I think it's going to be too soupy, and then it thickens right up overnight in the refrigerator like it's supposed to.
You don't have to use ham if you don't want to, but it sure adds a lot of flavor. If I'm really lucky I'll have a hambone in the freezer (I always leave extra meat on the bone when I freeze it for soup). This time I didn't have any, so I bought one of those ham steaks that are about seven inches across and 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick. I cut it into chunks and it gave a rich smokiness to the soup without sacrificing all of its flavor.
I always forget how easy this is to make. When it's cold and snowy and you want something that will stick to your ribs, this is definitely what you're looking for. It's especially good with a nice hunk of crusty whole wheat country-style bread.
The recipe on the back of the package I bought to make this soup only called for half of the package. Of course I doubled it.
And here it is all nice and thick.
Green Split Pea Soup with Ham
1 lb. green split peas
2 quarts water
2 Ham Hocks, meaty ham bones, or ham steaks
2 bay leaves
1 chopped onion
3 stalks chopped celery
3 carrots, sliced
1 tsp salt
2 cloves minced garlic
Wash, sort and drain split peas. Combine all ingredients in large pot with lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered approximately 1 hour or until cooked through; stir occasionally.
Before serving, remove ham hock or bone. Cut ham off bone; dice. Add to soup and serve.
Loosely adapted (doubled) from recipe provided on package of Jewel Green Split Peas.