- 10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 pounds dried green split peas, picked over, rinsed, and drained
- 1 medium onion, diced small
- 4 small carrots, diced small
- 1 celery stalk, diced small
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 small ham hocks (1 1/4 pounds total), with several 1/2-inch slits cut into skin
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- In a medium pot, bring broth to a boil, then carefully pour into a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add split peas, onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and ham hocks; season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and cook on high until split peas are creamy, 6 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Remove ham hocks from pot. Discard skin and bones; dice meat. Discard bay leaves. Lightly mash peas with the back of a wooden spoon. Return ham to soup and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Let older children help with chopping and measuring; younger ones will have fun sorting out any small stones that may have ended up in the dried peas.