Simple. Any ham bone will do. Leave a little meat on it if possible. If no meat on the bone- still use the bone- there is lots of good in there. Smack the bone with a cleaver if you have one or a hammer if not- you want to crack the bone so the marrow cooks out. There be nutrients in there!
Put the bone in a big ole soup pot. Cover with cold water. (Always start soup with cold water.) Chop up an onion and throw it in. Chop up some celery if you have it and some carrots if you have those. About the same amount as the onion. Pitch in some garlic. I like to throw in some thyme. Simmer it for a long long time – I let it go all day. Don’t add salt- the ham is salty enough.
After the long time, take the bone out. If the meat is still clinging to the bone- the long time is not over yet and you should put it back and simmer it some more. If the bone is clean the long time is over and you can set the bone aside to be given to the dog.
Rinse a bag or two of split peas- depending on how much stock you have. And how thick you like the soup. And whether unexpected company shows up. Pick out any stones or gravel from the peas. Dump them in the soup and simmer for as long as it takes. Some people like to puree the soup. Not me. I cook it til it is all smushy on its own. Stir it often so the peas don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Serve it up. With bread or crackers or if you want to pretend you’re hoity-toity you could serve it with croutons. Which in their original incarnation were probably a poverty recipe too- someone took stale bread and toasted it and called it by a fancy name.
There are of course variations on this dish. Any ham bone- and any beans you like. Great Northern Beans, one of the 7, 12 or 15 bean mixes they sell in the store. More or less onion, carrots and celery. Different herbs and spices. Bean and Bacon is good if your ham bone is lacking meat. And you can afford bacon. If not, you could start by sauteing the onion, celery and carrot in some bacon grease you had saved. You do save your bacon grease right? No? Ok use any other oil or grease then.