One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is a bowl of split pea soup, dating back to the days when my mother served us canned pea soup with cut-up hot dogs (very ’50s!). Now I prefer a big pot of homemade soup to serve with sautéed kielbasa on top. I love the way the earthy, creamy soup contrasts with the crispy, spicy sausage.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large (11 to 12-inch) pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, onion, and carrots and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and starting to brown. Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in the peas to coat with oil and cook for one minute. Add 8 cups of the chicken stock, 2 cups water, the ham hock, thyme bundle, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 1 1/4 hours, stirring occasionally, until the peas are very tender and falling apart. After 45 minutes, stir more frequently, scraping the bottom of the pot to be sure the soup doesn’t burn.
Discard the thyme bundle, bay leaves, and ham hock. Transfer 2 cups of the soup to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and purée. Return the purée to the pot, adding more chicken stock or water if the soup is too thick.
To serve, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium (10 to 11-inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Add the kielbasa and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the kielbasa is browned. Serve the soup hot with the kielbasa and parsley sprinkled on top.
Make ahead: Reheat the soup over low heat, adding chicken stock or water to thin.