Lentil with ham soup
Hello all and happy Tuesday! With it getting chillier by the day (especially in some parts of the country!) I’ve been craving a good hearty soup. My original plan was to make split pea with ham however Trader Joes didn’t have any split peas so I (somewhat) shifted gears to making a lentil and ham soup instead. To be totally honest I did basically the exact same thing I would have done with the split peas that I did with the lentils. One little note here I don’t soak my lentils/split peas first as I just don’t think it’s necessary. Just make sure you rinse your lentils in a bowl a couple times draining off the rinse water and any debris that may float to the surface.
I used a smoked pork hock I picked up at the local butcher for my soup and would recommend this if you can get it. Otherwise a ham bone with ham still on it or ham bone and a ham steak diced up would work just fine too. Basically you’re going to get most of the flavor into your soup from cooking it with the bone in. I like to cut all the ham I’m going to use in my soup off the bone first before cooking it. That way you still get all the flavor from the bone and the fat/ham left on it and you add the diced ham later which keeps it from getting tough and overcooked.
So with all that being said let’s get this baby cooking!
First as I noted above cut all the ham you’d like to put in the finished soup off the bone and dice. Do a similar sized dice to carrots and onions and a little bit smaller dice on the garlic and celery. Since I don’t put any of this soup into a blender I like to keep my veggie size fairly small so everything melds together as it cooks.
Now add your 2 tablespoons of butter to a large stock pot and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes before tossing in the celery and onions. I always like to let onions cook down just a little bit more than other veggies since they have such a strong flavor. Cook the celery/carrots for 3-5 minutes with the onions then throw in your garlic for just about a minute of cooking time. Garlic burns easy so throw it in last and keep an eye on it. I also like to toss in just a little salt and pepper right now.
At this point I went ahead and added all 3 cups of lentils and stirred them in allowing everything to cook together for just a minute or so then add the 9 cups of water(if you like thicker soup use less or vice versa).
Once you have all the water in place your ham bone/ham hock into the pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling lower heat to a simmer, cover and continue to cook for 30 minutes or so stirring a couple of times. Once the ham bone has released a lot of its flavor (30-40 minutes simmer) remove it and add in your diced ham, chopped thyme and some salt and pepper to taste.
Go easy on the salt as the ham adds quite a bit and you can always put more in later. Simmer this for another 20 minutes or so and you’re ready to eat! I like to get this going as early in the day as I can and once it’s done turn the heat off and let it sit for a couple hours before dinner to let all the flavors join together. Definitely not a necessary step but it does help. I like to serve with some good crusty bread and a side salad! Enjoy.