Add the ham hock, water and bay leaves to a large stockpot over medium heat. Bring the works to a simmer, cover and cook until the ham hock is tender enough to remove the bone, about 2 hours. Strain, reserving the ham hock meat and the stock but discarding the bone.
For the Soup:
Place your favourite large saucepan over medium high heat. Toss in the bacon then pour in a splash of water. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon.
As the water simmers the bacon will begin to cook. Then as the water evaporates the bacon will render, releasing its fat. Lastly it will crisp as the fat left behind heats past the boiling point of water into the flavour zone.
Keep an eye on the pans heat, adjusting as needed, keeping the bacon sizzling but not burning. When the bacon is evenly cooked and crisp, remove it and set aside.
Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan and sauté just to heat through, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the dried peas, thyme, reserved stock and ham hock. Cover and simmer the works until the peas are tender, about an hour.
Stir in the frozen peas, the vinegar and the reserved bacon. Serve and share.