Set a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil and onions. Saute for 3 – 5 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown and turn slightly translucent, then add the garlic and stir for one minute.
Add carrot, celery, squash and split peas, stir together for an additional minute. Sprinkle in the seasonings, then mix and toss everything together in the pot, ensuring all veggies are covered in oil and seasoning.
Pour in only 6 cups of chicken broth and add a generous pinch of sea salt & pepper, then bring the pot to a gentle simmer. Add bay leaves, reduce the heat to low and cover and cook for 45 minutes. Add remaining chicken broth as needed if the soup is too thick. Season to taste with sea salt & pepper.
Garnish and finish with a light drizzle of chili garlic oil and pinch of red pepper. The heat mellows the sweetness of the peas and squash and takes the flavor up a notch.