Find a good meaty hambone or ham hock -- (Betsy's offspring?) -- and I would urge organic. They are hard to find unless you deal direct with a farmer but so much better than industrialized pork. There should be meat and not a lot of fat. If there is fat, trim it off.
Put it in a deep soup pot and add in three or four large carrots which have either been scraped, or washed and sliced up into "coins." Add in:
- A large chopped up onion or even two.
- A stalk of celery which has been finely chopped.
- Chopped up mushrooms (button or crimini, which are small portabello)
- 2 bay leaves
- A small pinch of dried thyme leaves
- A small pinch cracked pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes (or some chopped fresh)
Heat to a boil, stir and reduce the heat to a very slow simmer. Stir occasionally and top up with water if necessary. If the soup is thick it has to be watched more carefully even at a very gentle simmer (barely a bubble) as it can "stick" more easily. If it does start to stick, turn the pot off and cover. Let sit for a bit and then stir thoroughly. The peas should turn to mush -- if the soup is too thin add in some more split peas or briefly increase heat.
Let simmer until the meat is falling off the bone -- remove the bone to a plate and strip of the meat, chop into moderately sized chunks and return to the pot. Give the bone to a deserving dog.
VARIATIONS: Add in several handfuls of small spinach leaves, or chopped up larger spinach. Omit the mushrooms. Use chopped up smoked ham rather than a meaty ham bone. Use a mix of both green and yellow split peas.
Let the soup cool; it will solidify and flavor will develop. Serve for supper or the next day gently heated. The soup will liquefy somewhat as it is gently heated. If not, add a bit more water.
Serve with salt and pepper, warm cornbread and a salad of greens.
Cornbread -- I recommend looking for a recipe on the internet as it is fun to do some research and there are plenty of recipes available. Cornbread is probably best known as a southern American dish and you'll find some great other dishes.
Many thanks to Ginny for taking the trouble to give us this recipe.