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Split-pea Soup

1 pound split peas
1 small ham hock
12 cups chicken stock
2 each bay leaves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium carrots, 1/4 inch dice
2 medium ribs celery, 1/4 inch dice
1 large onion, 1/4 inch dice
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
kosher salt, to taste
cubed croutons, optional

In a tall narrow stockpot, bring the peas, ham hock, stock, and
bay leaves to a boil. Lower the heat. Simmer for 1 hour and 30
minutes. Remove the ham hock and allow to cool slightly. Remove
and discard the skin. Tear the meat into bite-sized pieces.

While the soup is simmering, in a large frying pan, heat the oil
over medium heat. Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.
Cook, stirring for 8 minutes.

Stir the vegetables into the soup with the meat from the ham hock.
Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove
the bay leaves. Season with salt.

Sprinkle some croutons on each portion or pass them.

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