When my Dad made sausage, he had the meat ground at a local butcher here. He bought several pork shoulders, which they weighed and then cut the meat off the bone and ground. Because the shoulder is weighed before the meat is cut off the bone, you pay for the bones too and receive them in a small bag with your order.
I saved them in my freezer to make stock or soup with, and I pulled them out yesterday to thaw for the split pea soup. I roasted them in a 400° oven for about an hour beforehand. This gives the soup depth and flavor, but I can pull them out and the finished product is meatless. (Note: I said meatless, not vegetarian!)
Into my crockpot went:
16 oz. bag of dried split peas (no need to soak)
5 roasted pork shoulder bones (or you could use the traditional ham)
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
5 stalks of celery, chopped
1 32 oz. box of beef broth (*see note below)
1 cup water
2 cups broth
seasoning, to taste
Place the first seven ingredients into the crockpot in order. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours. I chose to cook on high for six hours. At about hour four I checked on it and it had lost a lot of liquid so I added 2 more cups of broth.
After six hours I removed the bones, tasted and seasoned to our tastes using about 1/2 tsp black pepper, and turned it to warm.
*The broth is a brand my Dad found at the Dollar Tree, believe it or not. It's all natural with no MSG and is free of any cholesterol, fat, gluten, and lactose. They sell beef and chicken in 32 oz. cartons. I usually use vegetarian bouillon cubes in everything, but since this is dairy free it's safe for Johnny and gives me the option of using ready-to-use broth sometimes.