Place all ingredients in the slow cooker; gently stir. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Remove the bay leaf from the soup and discard. Pull ham hocks out of soup and remove remaining meat from ham hocks. Reserve meat.
At this point, you can either remove a few cups of the soup, puree in the blender and return to the slow cooker or use your immersion blender for 10 seconds to puree the soup slightly. (I like my soup a bit chunky. Puree to your personal preference.) Stir the reserved ham back into the soup and serve warm.