Rick never fails to mention how good the house smells when I'm cooking split pea soup.
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
6 cups water
1 ham steak, skin removed and cubed into bite-sized pieces
2 smoked ham hocks
16 ounces (2 cups) dried green peas
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery
salt and pepper to taste
fresh mint sprig and a handful of frozen sweet peas (heated of course) for garnish
Rinse peas and pick out any that appear irregular. Heat butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add chopped onion and cook until softened, about four minutes. Add garlic and stir. Add water, ham steak, ham hocks, peas, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for one hour, stirring frequently.
Remove the ham hocks from the soup and discard. Add the chopped carrots and celery. Cover and continue to simmer an additional 30 minutes. Watch! If at anytime, soup appears too thick, add water or chicken broth to suit. When peas are tender and mushy, remove from heat. Serve with buttery, garlic croutons and top with a fresh mint sprig and a sprinkling of sweet peas.