Split Pea Soup

Back in middle school, peas used to have the connotation of being terrible, an almost brown color with no distinct taste. Basically, just thrown in for the vegetable serving required in all school lunches. Not any more! With a boatload of color and flavor this soup is made delicious.
My host was telling me about her very favorite soup, split pea soup. Never having tried it before, I was determined to find an interesting recipe to try this soup for my first time. And I was not disappointed. I made a couple changes I added into the recipe below (basically taking out the ham and exchanging the bay leaf with other spices). Enjoy!

Split Pea and Ham Soup by easy natural food
1 pound green split peas* (soaked overnight in warm water, then rinsed)
6 cups stock/water (I used 3 cups homemade chicken stock, 3 cups water)
1 ham bone (did not use)
1 onion, diced
1 small strip of kombu/kelp
1 tsp basil and parsley flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium large carrot, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter (optional) (did not use)
1 cup diced cooked ham (optional) (did not use)

1. Place split peas, ham bone and stock/water into a large pot and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce to a simmer. Add the onion, kelp, spices and garlic.
3. Gently simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Stir periodically to prevent the split peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
4. Add the carrot, celery, salt and pepper. Simmer for another 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the peas are completely mushy and soft. Add a bit more water/stock if needed, but careful not to make the soup too runny.
5. Puree the soup (I use an immersion blender). Be careful of hot splashes!
6. (if desired) Add the butter and ham pieces and simmer for 5 minutes to heat the ham through. I add butter because otherwise this soup has very little fat in it.
7. Taste and adjust seasonings as required.