Rinse and sort peas in a large pot, picking out any broken, discolored peas. Cover peas with 2 inches of hot water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse peas. Add the chicken broth to the crockpot. Stir in seasonings, salt and pepper. Add the ham, presoaked peas, and prepared veggies. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 5 hours. Before serving, remove 1/2 cup of the pea/vegetable mixture and puree in a blender until smooth.* Add the pureed pea/vegetable mixture back to the soup and stir to incorporate. Ladle into bowls and serve topped with cornbread.
*Use caution when blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.