2 cups split green peas water to cover peas 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup chopped (Vidalia or sweet type) onion 1 cup celery, strings removed, chopped 1/2 cup trimmed, scraped and diced carrots 1 bay leaf 1 ham bone or smoked pork knuckle 1/4 teaspoon thyme (optional) water 1 chicken bouillon cube 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon black pepper dollops of sour cream or butter patties for serving in individual bowls fresh chopped parsley or chives (optional)
Wash and sort peas; place in a heavy 3 quart boiler for which you have a lid. Add water to cover. Bring to boil; simmer 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover and let stand 1 1/2 or 2 hours. Add water to cover peas, if needed to keep them covered well.
In medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add onions and saute until somewhat translucent.
Add carrots and continue stirring for about 2 minutes. Add celery and saute with this another 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Set aside.
Add water to peas again as needed to cover. Bring peas to boiling. Add ham bone or pork knuckle (2), bay leaf and thyme. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until peas are soft. Stir often.
Add bouillon cube to peas while still hot to dissolve. Remove bone, cut off meat and dice. Remove bay leaf and discard. Set peas aside to cool.
Drain and remove about 1/4 cup peas from pot. Set aside in small bowl.
When pot of peas has cooled sufficiently to handle, add the onion, celery, carrot mixture to it. Put soup mixture through a food mill, blender, or in food processor. Puree. Return meat and reserved 1/4 cup peas to soup. Reheat soup, season with salt and black pepper.
Prewarm soup bowls. Ladle soup into bowls and place a dollop of sour cream or pat of butter on top. Sprinkle with parsley or chives (optional). Serve hot.