Split Pea Soup
In a large kettle, put the peas, ham bone, onion, celery, bay leaf, and 2 to 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently until the split peas are soft and mushy enough to be sieved, about 2 hours. Remove the ham bone and puree the soup by putting it in a food processor or through a food mill. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Add the tomato puree and cream and return to the stove. Bring to a boil. Serve with croutons fried in butter until crisp.
Note: If you prefer, you may substitute bacon rind, a slice of ham or a small pork butt for the ham bone.
With kidney beans: Substitute red kidney beans for the split peas and flavor with a few dashes of Madeira or sherry wine at the last minute.
With black beans: Substitute black beans for the split peas and flavor with Madeira or sherry wine. Serve with lemon slices.
With white pea beans: Substitute white pea beans for the split peas and serve topped with crumbled bacon bits.