Since I didn't have any good ham on hand, I used bacon instead. In my opinion, cooking with bacon makes most beans, peas and legumes taste even better. It was an idea a friend gave me years ago for making refried pinto beans, and I now use it with just about everything of this nature.
Add additional water or broth if you like a thinner soup.
4 slices lean bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small handful baby carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4-6 cups beef broth (or use your favorite variety)
1 cup yellow split peas
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
saltines to serve (optional)
In a large soup pot over medium heat, fry bacon til crispy. Remove and drain bacon, reserving about 1 T fat. Add fat back to pot and saute onion, carrots and celery for about 10 minutes.
Increase heat to high; add broth, peas, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered for 30-35 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the potatoes and simmer til potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as desired.
I served the soup with saltines and Kim K.'s rye bread and butter. The only change I made to her bread recipe was adding the caraway seeds.