In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaf and split peas and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the peas are tender.
Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Add the milk and, using a hand-held immersion blender (or in a regular blender in batches), process until smooth. Add the hot sauce and serve hot.
Yield: 8 servings