In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, dry fry the bacon until golden brown (you can add a bit of oil if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
If needed, add one-two tablespoons of olive oil, add the onions to the pan and with the garlic until the onions are translucent, 5-10 minutes.
Add the carrots, celery, split peas, chicken stock, smoked paprika, and bay leaf.
Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered (Skimming off any foam that forms foam while cooking) for 1 - 2 hours or until the peas start to break down. Check often and stir frequently to keep the soup from burning on the bottom.
Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Leave a little fat on your bacon. It adds loads of flavor!
On dry frying bacon - some lean bacon doesn't brown well when dry frying. If it needs some help, just add a little oil.
Have some extra stock on hand. Split pea soup thickens a lot and may need some thinning out.