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Thick Split Pea Soup

1 smoked ham hock, or a few smoked neck bones (optional)
5 cups water
1 cup dried green or yellow split peas
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced (include some of the leaves)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
a clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 small bay leaf
1 whole clove
1 teaspoon or more to taste salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional if not using ham hock)
3/4 c. finely-diced cooked ham (optional if not using ham hock)
up to 1/4 c. lemon juice, to taste

If using ham hock, simmer in the 5 cups of water until tender,
which will take several hours. Drain liquid into container and
allow to stand overnight so you can remove fat. Remove meat from
bone, dice, and reserve to add to soup. Next day remove fat from
broth, strain, add everything but the liquid smoke and the lemon
juice. (Note: if you omit the broth-making step, you will start
this recipe using the 5 cups of water at this point.) Bring to a
boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the peas disintegrate,
about three hours. Add meat from ham hock, or the optional cooked
ham in its place, and season with liquid smoke, if desired, and
lemon juice. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts and freezes well.


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