1. Bring first 6 ingredients and, if desired, jalapeños to a boil in a Dutch oven; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
2. Rinse and sort peas according to package directions. Add peas and 1/2 tsp. salt to Dutch oven, and cook, covered, 1 hour or until peas are tender. If desired, remove meat from ham hock, finely chop, and return to Dutch oven. Season with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste.