Québec-style Pea Soup

This makes the classic old school ham and pea soup. If you had ham over the hols, this is a thrifty great way to use up leftovers and get the most from the bone. Otherwise, buy a ham hock.

1 leftover ham bone or 1 lb ham hock, trimmed of the skin
2 T butter or oil
2 carrots diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 med yellow onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1¾ c yellow split peas
2 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs thyme
¼ t kosher salt
¼ t fresh-cracked black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the carrots, celery, onion and garlic, until soft, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the peas, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in 8 cups water; add ham hock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are very soft and soup is thick. 1½ to 2 hours. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Transfer the ham to a plate and let cool until it is easily handled. Discard the bone and fat, dice the meat and return to the soup. Heat through. Serve with garlic or cheese toasts if desired. Serves 6-8.