Lesson #1: Split pea soup does not photograph well (especially given the limitations of my phone camera, which is the only photo-taking device I have with me at my mother's house).
Lesson #2: My mom makes the best split pea soup. She says it's different every time because she doesn't follow a recipe. Which means I had to give her the 5th degree to tease out something that resembles a recipe (exactly how many stalks of celery equates to "quite a bit of celery"? the answer, it turns out, is 5). Here's what I pieced together:
Mom's Split Pea Soup
Makes a big pot of soup
2 c. split peas, rinsed
2 ham hocks
10 peppercorns, smashed
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
marjoram, thyme, celery salt
1 c. milk
1 c. beef boullion
Simmer peas, ham hocks, and peppercorns in 6 cups of water in a partially covered soup pot for one hour.
In a separate pan, saute vegetables in a bit of olive oil until crisp tender.
Remove ham bone from broth and set it aside to allow to cool. Add vegetables and herbs/spices to broth and simmer for 1 hour.
Once ham hocks are cool enough to handle, cut the meat from the bone and chop.
Add ham, milk, and boullion to soup. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Lesson #3: Mom's split pea soup is even better on the second day. :-)