Split Peas Soup
1 pound dried split peas
1 ham hock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 pound Smithfield ham, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
Score the ham hock. Place in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat.
Add onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes.
Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add the ham hock and ham and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown.
Add peas, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
Add 8 cups of water, bay leaf and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. (Add more water as needed, if the soup becomes too thick or dry.)
Remove the bay leaf and discard. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve immediately.