In the meantime I found a real live hambone at the Apple Market. It was pretty big, so they cut it in half for me. I threw both halves in the freezer and then promptly forgot about them.
Operation Freezer Burn is just limping along right now. What Operation Freezer Burn? you may be asking, and with good reason. My freezer is just as full as ever and, while there has been some significant rotation, there's still just as much, if not more, stuff in there as there's ever been. In fact, now I am putting more spices and nuts and things in there so there is no room whatsoever at the Inn.
But every once in a while, when I was rummaging around in there for something, my hand would bump into one or the other of the plastic bags that held my ham bones. And when the weather finally got cool enough, I decided it was time for some split pea soup. I was already playing with my slow cooker at the time, so I went to The Everything Slow Cooker Cookbook and found a recipe that turned out to be basically the same as the one I already use that is on the back of every package of split peas I have ever bought. The only difference is in the amount of water you use - a quart and a half (6 cups) as opposed to the 2 quarts called for in the stovetop version.
So why bother making this soup in the slow cooker when it's so gosh-darned easy to throw together on the stove? Well, I'll tell you. Because cooking this soup in the slow cooker creates the smoothest, most velvety soft split pea soup I have ever tasted. It comes out so thick that you could almost lift it out in one big lump if you had a big enough utensil. Once you add water and heat it up, the magic begins. If you like split pea soup, you have to try this slow cooker version.
Slow Cooker Green Split Pea Soup
1 lb. green split peas
1-1/2 quarts water
1/2 ham hock
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 slow cooker crock, turn on low, and let cook for 8-10 hours.
Before serving, remove ham bone. Cut ham off bone; dice and add back to soup. You will need to thin this soup with water before serving.
Loosely adapted from The Everything Slow Cooker Cookbook, by Margaret Kaeter (Adams Media Corporation, 2002).