Peel and fine chop sweet onion, and cook in 8 quart pot, over low heat in 2 T. of butter, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and tender. Add fine chopped garlic and bay leaves to onion mixture and stir, mixing well for about 1 minute. Do not allow onions or garlic to brown.
While onions are cooking place Split Peas (a cup at a time) in a strainer and rinse. Once onions, garlic and bay leaves have been mixed, add 8 cups of water, two cups of split peas and Ham Hocks to pot and simmer, stirring from the bottom occasionally, until peas have been well cooked and no longer hold their shape.
Note: You may have to add up to two more cups of water while peas are cooking, but you want soup to have a rich, thick texture, so add water sparingly. Once split peas no longer hold their shape, remove Ham Hocks (be careful as they hold their heat) and bay leaves from soup. Add remaining butter, salt &pepper to taste, stir and serve. Croutons or a dollop of sour cream are a nice addition to Split Pea soup.
Cook's note: When cooled, soup should be thick enough to stand a spoon. Makes about 4 Bowls.