2 onions, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tsp dried minced thyme
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 pound green split peas, about 2 cups (I'm generous with my measuring and usually use more than 1 lb), picked over and rinsed
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 bay leaves
1 ham hock
8 ounces ham (if ham hock doesn't have enough/any left on it)
1 Tbs lemon juice
salt and pepper
(Note: if you're generous with the amount of split peas you use, just use some extra broth. I've used part beef broth before too and it was delicious.)
(Another note: If you want to add a little fiber or stretch the soup a bit, you can add some diced celery. I've added between 1/2 and 1 cups of diced celery. It doesn't affect the flavor very much and the soup is delicious with it in. Add the celery with the carrots.)
1. Put onions, garlic, oil, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Microwave, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened (about 5 minutes). Remove from microwave and put in slow cooker.
2. Put broth, water, split peas, carrots, and bay leaves into slow cooker and stir. Nestle ham hock down into the liquid. Cover and cook until peas are tender (9-11 hours on low, or 5-7 hours on high). (I prefer to cook it on low, but be careful not to cook it for too long- it'll still taste fine, but it will turn a highly unpleasant color.)
3. Remove ham hock and let cool slightly. Let soup settle for 5 minutes and spoon off any fat that settles on the surface. Throw away bay leaves.
4. Shred any meat from the ham hock. Cut up any extra ham you are using. Add all the ham back to the soup and cook it on high until the ham is heated through. Stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Since I like to cook this on low best, the cook time is pretty long. That either means getting up really early in the morning to cut things up, or preparing ahead of time. The easiest way to prepare this recipe ahead of time is to cut everything, microwave the onion mixture, and nestle all the veggies, the bay leaves, the dry split peas, and the ham hock/bone into the slow cooker. Then, put your slow cooker insert into the fridge until morning. First thing in the morning, reassemble your crock pot, add the broth, and turn it on to cook. Everything will start out a little cold but that won't affect your cooking time as much. If you don't have a fridge big enough for this (like my little fridge at Stanford), then complete step 1 and cut up all the other veggies. Store it all in the fridge and quickly assemble it all first thing in the morning.