For the Herb Bouquet: Tie 3 cloves garlic, 4 allspice berries, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon thyme, 8 sprigs parsley in rinsed cheesecloth or place in bouquet garni muslin bag.
- 1 pound (2 1/4 cups) green split peas
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic, halved
- 1 herb bouquet (see Recipe Note)
- 2 ham hocks, well-rinsed
- Small toasted croutons (avoid for gluten-free version), to garnish
- Chopped parsley or chives, to garnish
1 Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Rinse and drain the peas.
2 Sauté the vegetables: Heat the olive oil in a large (4-quart) thick bottomed pot on medium high heat. Add the chopped onion, celery, carrot, and leek. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
3 Cook the peas with the vegetables, herbs, ham hocks and water: Place peas in the pot with the vegetables, herb bouquet, ham hocks and 2 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer.
Skim the scum off the top of the soup for several minutes, until the scum ceases to rise.
Partially cover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they stick to the bottom of the pan.
4 Remove the ham hocks and herb bouquet from the soup.
5 Purée the soup: Purée the soup with a blender. An immersion blender works great for this; if you are using a regular blender, take care to work in batches and only fill the blender halfway if the soup is still hot, and hold down the lid while blending.
If you want an exceptionally smooth soup, pass the purée through a sieve.
6 Remove the meat from the ham hocks (optional): If you'd like cut away the outer skin from the ham hocks and remove the meat from the bones. Dice the meat and stir it into the pureed soup.
7 Season to taste: Return the puréed soup to the pot and heat until once again steaming. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8 Serve garnished with croutons: Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with croutons and parsley or chives.