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 45 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