Split Pea Soup with Barley and Ham
1 cup dry split green peas
1/2 cup medium pearl barley (not quick-cooking barley)
2 cups chopped ham
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
5 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (or 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
In a medium bowl or liquid measure, combine the water, bouillon cubes and spices and whisk to combine (it's ok if the bouillon cubes don't completely dissolve).
In a medium round slow cooker (about 4-quart), layer peas, barley, ham, carrots, onion and celery. Do not mix. Pour in the water/spices mixture and add the bay leaf to the slow cooker. Don't stir! Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or on low eight hours, until the peas reach the desired creamy, soft texture. Remove the bay leaf, stir well, and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve immediately. Upon sitting and/or refrigerating, this soup thickens considerably. Simply add water or chicken broth to thin the soup to the desired consistency before reserving.