3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound leeks, white and pale-green parts only, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1 1/2- 2 pound smoked ham hock
1 1 pound package dried yellow split peas
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Heat oil in a 6-quart pot over moderate heat. Add leeks, carrots, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 3 quarts water and remaining ingredients; simmer, loosely covered, until split peas are very tender, about 1 hour.
Remove and discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Transfer ham hock to a cutting board. Puree soup in small batches in blender until smooth. Transfer to a clean pot. Remove skin and fat from ham hock. Pull meat from bone and shred into bite-size pieces. Add 3/4 of ham to soup and reheat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally; salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with remaining ham. Makes 8 servings.
Per Serving: cal. (kcal) 290, Fat, total (g) 7, chol. (mg) 10, sat. fat (g) 1, carb. (g) 41, fiber (g) 4, pro. (g) 19, sodium (mg) 328, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet