Grandma never wasted anything; if there were bones left over from a big meal, then there was the promise of homemade soup. Growing up I looked forward to ham dinners for 2 reasons -- ham sandwiches, and split pea soup. We recently cooked up a large bone-in ham and I knew exactly what I was going to do to stretch my money.
Do you need to soak the dried peas overnight?
The answer is no, but if you want to, that's okay too. Generally speaking, we soak dried beans and peas overnight to help quicken the cooking time, but since split peas cook relatively quickly it isn't necessary. Dried peas cook in a couple of hours, overnight soaked peas will cook in less than one.
How do I know when my soup is done?
The consistency of your pea soup is up to you. Some, like me, prefer the peas to be soft but still identifiable. Others prefer to have the peas cook longer, until they are mushy and fall apart. And yet others will use a hand blender to puree the soup to a smooth consistency.
1 ham bone left over ham, chopped 1 lb dried split peas (yellow, green or a mixture; its up to you) 1 cup chopped carrots 1 cup of diced potatoes 1 small onion, chopped 1/2 cup chopped celery 2 cloves garlic, chopped 2 bay leaves salt and pepper to taste 10 cups of water
Saute vegetables in a saucepan until onions are translucent. Transfer to your stockpot. Add in peas, ham bone, chopped ham, water, and bay leaves. Cook on low medium heat until peas are cooked. (see note above)
Since peas absorb water, be sure to keep an eye on the water level, and add more water as needed. When soup is done, season with salt and pepper to taste.