I love re-purposing ingredients, it's kind of my thang. I don't like to waste anything and it's also a real money saver. Since starting my new career in Real Estate, money has been extra tight so I try and do this as often as I can. We made a ham for our Christmas party and had SO much leftover. We made breakfasts, sandwiches, etc. Then came the best part, the hambone! Now, you're not always going to have a ham bone just laying around (I don't think) but some butchers sell them or you could just wait until Christmas and Easter to make this recipe when you have one. I made the stock the night before and saved it in the fridge to make the soup the next day. You could do it all in the same day, but it's a little easier to split it up since you want to allow the stock ample time to simmer to get the most flavor out of the bone. This soup has so much flavor, it's really worth taking the time to make!
3 slices thick sliced bacon, diced
1 lb (1 bag) dried split peas
8 cups ham stock*
2 cups ham bone meat*
1 large onion,diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium golden potatoes, about 1 1/2 cups, cubed
1/4 tsp thyme
*For the hamstock:
Put ham bone in large dutch oven with one quartered onion, 2 bay leaves and a handful of whole peppercorns. Cover with water. Simmer on the stove for 2-4 hours, the better the longer. You can do this part ahead of time and save the broth in the fridge or freezer for when you are ready to make the soup. It should make about 10 cups. Remove the meat from the bone to use in the soup.
For the soup:
Add bacon to large dutch oven or sauce pot, cook until crisp, remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, without draining the bacon fat, add onion, celery, and carrot. Cook for 5-7 minutes until soft but not brown. Add garlic, split peas, potatoes and thyme. Cook for
another 1-2 minutes.
Add ham stock and simmer for an hour or until the peas are tender.
Scoop about 3/4 of the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth (you can also do this with an immersion blender if you have one, just be sure to leave some texture).
Add the pureed mixture back to the pan, add reserved ham from the hambone.
Serve and garnish with the bacon and a little extra ham.