Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions, bell peppers and celery to the pan and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ham hocks and peas, and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bay leaves to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the ham hocks and peas are tender, about 3 hours. Remove the ham hocks from the soup and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the skin and bones. Discard skin and bones and return the meat to the pot, along with the Essence, salt, and pepper. Return the soup to a boil, then serve, with each bowl of soup garnished with 1 tablespoon of creme fraiche and chopped chives.
Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William Morrow, 1993.