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Hearty Ham and Lentil Soup

November 28, 2012
Ham and Lentil Soup

This soup is a lot like my favorite pair of worn jeans.  It doesn’t scream flashy; instead, it fits with ease and gets better with time. It is earthy and satisfying without being fussy. I love one pot dishes like this, especially on a November night that has brought chill to my bones.

Plus, if you have left over ham from the holiday…well, really, need I say more?

Ham and Lentil Soup

In our absense from home these past few days for Thanksgiving, we gathered with family and overstuffed nurtured our bellies with a myriad of traditional dishes that compliment the iconic golden bird. Then, we indulged in deep conversation, rubbed our swollen bellies, and promised not to do that again to ourselves (for at least 4 hours). We returned home and vowed to skip meals and only eat salad for the next three days. We made such promises as we heaved the remaining apple crumble pie into our mouths; lest we let it go to waste, I think not. What a horrifying shame that would be.

After things came to a settle, Brian and I wrapped our minds around the brutal fact that we are no longer eighteen and our digestive tracks need a little more tender loving care (and a deep cleanse, perhaps). We headed down a road to redemption, mostly pertaining to soups and salads (also, with the goal of cleaning up left overs). Thus, I present you with this most satisfying soup.

Ham and bean soup

Mmmm….rabbit food. Always a nice rebound after the holidays.

Ham and Lentil Soup

Lentils are such a nice bean, aren’t they? Not too big. A nice thickening agent to the chicken stock.

Well, they are nice until you spill the darn things on the floor trying to photograph them. Hmm….

They are simmered with the ham hock, which imparts its fabulous salty, ham flavor into the beans and broth.

Ham and Lentil Soup

Comfort in a bowl aside chunks of lovely pumpkin seed bread for dipping, of course. Let’s not forget to pay homage to the perfect shavings of parmesan atop this glorious measure. Just take your vegetable peeler to your wedge of parmesan to acheive this garnish. Grating is a fine alternative.

Hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving and have much to be thankful for. I know I do.


P.S. I found it incredibly sweet that my one year-old learned how to say “thank you” the night before Thanksgiving…even if it did sound more like “daahn-doo” than “thank you.” It melted my heart nonetheless.

Hearty Ham and Lentil Soup

Serves: 6
Although the soup can be made without the ham hock, it is responsible for imparting the salty ham flavor into the broth and lentils. If you do not have a ham hock, I would advise eating the soup the day after it is prepared which will allow more of the ham flavor to infuse the broth without overcooking it. Do not simmer the ham bits with the lentils to impart flavor, as it will make the ham dry, tough, and flavorless. This soup is very hearty so needs very little on the side. I usually serve it with an interesting multi-grain artisan bread (whatever looks good at the store), which I know is cliché, but honest.
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Ham hock (optional, yet preferred)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 8 cups hot water
  • 1 ½ cups dried lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 (15 ounce / 425 grams) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups ham, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Kosher salt, if needed
  • Parmesan Reggiano (optional garnish)
  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, drizzle in olive oil and set at medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Let cook until onions are translucent (8-10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add garlic and let cook another minute until fragrant.
  2. Add ham hock, chicken stock, water, lentils, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 35-40 minutes until lentils are tender. Remove ham hock and bay leaves.
  3. Add great northern beans and ham pieces and let cook until heated through. Add lots of fresh ground pepper. Taste for salt; if needed, add in very small portions as the ham is already salty. Remove bay leaves and serve garnished with large shavings of parmesan cheese, if desired.

Can be made this without the ham hock and is still decicious, but the hock abosolutely imparts more flavor into the beans and broth.




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