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In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, dry fry the bacon until golden brown (you can add a bit of oil if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
If needed, add one-two tablespoons of olive oil, add the onions to the pan and with the garlic until the onions are translucent, 5-10 minutes.
Add the carrots, celery, split peas, chicken stock, smoked paprika, and bay leaf.
Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered (Skimming off any foam that forms foam while cooking) for 1 - 2 hours or until the peas start to break down. Check often and stir frequently to keep the soup from burning on the bottom.
Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.