Hearty split pea soup

2 cups dried split peas
1 cup diced lean salt pork, well rinsed 2 cups diced turnip 1 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced potato
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery tops, including leaves 1 teaspoon salt (optional) 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a heavy, large saucepan, combine the split peas and 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, boil 2 minutes, turn off the heat, and allow to stand 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, place the salt pork in another saucepan, cover with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Strain liquid into a bowl and chill it until fat congeals on top. Discard fat and add liquid to peas. Trim lean meat from salt pork and add to peas. Discard fat. 3. Add remaining ingredients to saucepan and cook over low heat until vegetables are tender, about 1-1/2 hours. Puree soup in a blender or food processor if a smoother texture is desired.