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Lentil Ham Soup features tender cooked lentils, vegetables, and salty chunks of ham that come together in a hearty and delicious soup.
After the holidays, when ham is usually on the menu, this lentil ham soup is an excellent recipe for cooking with some of those leftovers.
But, even if you didn't serve ham, after the holidays it's a good time to find ham for sale at the supermarket. Look for meaty ham bones that supermarket butchers often pack, or ask the butcher to save one for you. You can freeze it and then when you're ready make this ham lentil soup (with a few extra ingredients of course) when you feel like a tasty, filling soup.
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How is lentil soup with ham made?
First, you'll start by making a broth: Using that meaty ham bone, a few extra pork ribs (so you can get plenty of meat in your soup), plus carrots, leeks, celery, garlic, water, and seasonings.
Simmer that broth for about two hours – strain and then remove the meat from the bones for use in the soup.
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Then make your soup, starting by sautéing more chopped carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. Add diced potatoes, canned diced tomatoes, dried lentils, all that wonderful just-cooked ham broth, and condiments including cumin and coriander. Simmer until the lentils are cooked and tender.
At this point, we use an immersion blender to puree about half of the soup, so that the lentil soup is creamy but there are still some pieces of lentils and vegetables intact. Finally, we add the cooked meat that we reserve after making the broth.
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Season your lentil soup with ham with salt and pepper as needed, although since the ham is already quite salty, you may not need to add a lot of extra salt to your soup. Serve with a nice crispy garlic bread or a side salad.
Can I do the stock in advance?
Absolutely! We often make the broth, then freeze it in zip-lock bags until we're ready to make our lentil soup.
One last note: Do not panic for the amount of ingredients listed in the recipe below. Many of the same ingredients are used more than once, first in the broth and again in the soup itself, and we list them separately just to make the recipe easier to follow.
You can enjoy these other lentil recipes:
½ pound carrots, cut into large pieces (about 2 carrots)
½ pound of leeks, white only cleaned of sand and cut in half (approximately 2–3 leeks)
2 celery stalks cut into large pieces (1/4 pound)
1 whole garlic clove, crushed
1 meaty ham bone (about 2 pounds)
2 pounds of pork ribs with meat (like field ribs)
½ bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
12 black peppercorns
4 quarts of cold tap water
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups carrots, diced
2 cups onion, diced
1 cup celery cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
1 small red potato, peeled and diced (approximately ¾ pound)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 pound dry brown or green lentils, rinsed
10 cups broth from above
3 cups of meat from above
Additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed, for taste
Put all the ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil, then simmer and cook for two hours. When it boils for the first time, use a ladle and remove and discard the brown foam that forms on top.
After two hours strain the broth. Remove the fat that floats up and discard it. You should keep 10 cups of broth. If you have less, make up the difference with the beef, chicken or vegetable broth. If more, cook to evaporate to 10 cups (2 quarts and 2 cups)
Remove the carrots, mash and reserve.
Remove the bones and collect the meat and set aside, you should have about three cups of meat. Discard the remaining bones and solids.
In a 6-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add raw diced carrots, onion, celery, and garlic and sauté for three minutes.
Add the potato, tomato, thyme, cumin, coriander, lentils, and stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and cook 40-50 minutes until lentils are tender.
Remove from heat and add the carrot puree, then with an immersion blender, puree in half and leave half. The mixture should be creamy but still have solids.
Add reserved meat, taste and adjust seasoning and serve. I added a little more salt and pepper, but not much, since the ham bone was salty.
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