Bolivian Pea Soup

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  1. In a very large, deep saucepan cook the Bacon till it's done enough to crumble a little, (about 15 minutes over medium heat).
  2. Remove Bacon, break or chop it up coarsely and set aside.
  3. Add the carrots, Onion, thyme, and bay leaves to the pan toss to coat with pan drippings that remained from the Bacon cooking.
  4. Cook 5 mintues over med-high heat.
  5. Add split Peas and cooked Bacon, stir well and cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Add 8 cups of water and bring just to a high boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
  7. When the Peas have absorbed about half the water, add salt to taste (the taste of the mixture at this point will be an accurate indicator of how salty the final product will be).
  8. Continue to simmer until the Peas are very, very soft and almost all the water has been absorbed;Any water left should be the color of the Peas, and thickened.
  9. Stir and check often to ensure the bottom does not burn, especially toward the end of cook time.
  10. If you like a smoother soup, you may choose to puree the mixture a bit with hand mixer before serving.
  11. Remove bay leaves and place soup in bowls. Garnish each with a dollop of sour cream, a couple splashes of hot sauce, and chives.