Split Pea and Smoked Ham Soup

Servings - 10   Servings Size - approx. 1 1/2 cups   Points Plus per Serving - 5 points+

Calories - 224.7,   Total Fat - 2.5g,   Carb. - 33.7g,   Protein - 16.7g,   Fiber - 13g

1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed and picked through

1 TBS olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. dried marjoram

1 cup chopped celery

3 large carrots (the ones I used were HUGE!), chopped 

2 ( 32 oz.) boxes of fat free, reduced sodium chicken stock

32 oz. water ( I just refill one of the stock boxes)

1 small smoked ham hock ( only used to flavor soup ) 

8 oz. fully cooked, lean, smoked ham, diced

juice of half a lemon

few dashes of hot sauce ( such as tabasco ) 

salt and pepper, to taste

2 TBS. instant mashed potatoes ( optional to thicken, if desired)

1.  In a large 6 quart stock pot or dutch oven, heat 1 TBS olive oil on med-high heat.  Add in onion and saute for about 5 minutes or until onion starts to become translucent.  Add in garlic and stir.  Cook until it becomes fragrant, about another minute or so.  Add in celery, carrots, thyme and marjoram.  Cook for another couple of minutes. 

2.  Add in rinsed peas, ham hock, chicken stock and water.  Stir.  Allow to come to boil, then reduce heat to simmer, loosely covered until peas are near tender, about 1 - 2 hours.  

3.  Remove ham hock and discard.  ( they are cheap and full of flavor, so do use one and don't feel bad about throwing it away )   With immersion blender, blend up half of soup or so to thicken OR use potato masher to manually mash some of the peas and veggies OR take out a few cups of liquid, cool a a little and put in blender, then put back into pot. ( I used the potato masher cause I am lazy...lol )

4.  Add in the diced smoked ham. lemon juice and tabasco.  If the soup is not thick enough for your liking, you can sprinkle in a few TBS of instant mashed potato flakes to thicken.  ( I think I added one )  Test soup for salt and pepper, and add to your taste.  Garnish with fat free greek yogurt and fresh parsley, if desired.  ( garnish and mashed potato flakes not included in nutrition information)