Here's a soup where most of the hard work is done by the ham bone, which you buy ready to go. It's rich, meaty and delicious and you can make a whole meal out of it. Alternatively, you can use turkey. You can easily add some small cut pasta or rice to this soup for a complete dinner in one pot.
Smoked Ham and Lentil Soup
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small ham hock (preferably smoked) or small ham bone
125 ml ( 1/2 cup) red lentils, rinsed
1.5 l (6 cups) chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Handful of small broccoli florets
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (optional)
In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add garlic, bay leaves, thyme, ham hock, lentils and chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Simmer soup, partially covered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until lentils are soft and ham hock is heated through and tender. Stir occasionally. Add broccoli florets. Cook until broccoli is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove ham hock from soup; remove meat from bone and set aside. Serve meat with the soup or in the soup, whichever you prefer, or use for another meal. Discard bay leaves and thyme stalks.
Adjust thickness of soup by adding some water or stock. Return to a boil. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Add lots of fresh chopped parsley and serve.
If desired, garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Source: Christine Cushing