Keep it simple by preparing just about everything ahead of time
5 slices bacon
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large celery rib, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (32 oz.) cartons low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups green split peas, rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup sour cream, optional
How to Make It
Make soup: Sauté bacon in large pot over medium-high heat until crisp and brown. Remove and set aside. Add onion, carrot and celery to pan; sauté until vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add broth, water, peas, bay leaves and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pot and simmer until vegetables are tender and peas fall apart, stirring occasionally, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Puree 5 cups soup in batches in blender. Return to pot. Stir in salt and season with pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Crumble reserved bacon on top. Add a cat crouton and a dollop of sour cream to each bowl.