As promised, I have for you a second soup/stew of the week. This is one of my favorites of favorites. It’s a mom recipe, so I know you know it’s worth all the hype because, my mom’s food is the s&*t.
Lentil soup I suspect is one of those things like chili that everyone makes differently and that no matter how you slice (or scoop it), it’s wonderful: warm, comforting, healthy, non-nonsense and rib-sticking. Mom’s is not complicated at all—it’s essentially a chop and drop, but there’s something about this version of ham & lentil soup that just tops all others for me.
More often than not when I have a mom recipe on this site, I cheat and have her cook it for me because I can be lazy sometimes, and she enables that laziness every time I go home. Cabbage rolls. Veal paprikash. Chicken of the same name. But this time, I made it myself Mom! And that just goes to show you that you can, too. And it’ll taste just as good, I promise.
The secret- and there really is no way to get around this, I don’t think- is the ham bone. Can you buy these at the store? I don’t know, and perhaps this recipe should have gone up around Thanksgiving/Christmas when everyone had extra ham bones laying around. Mine is left over from Thanksgiving when mom bought a ham “just in case” turkey, stuffing and all the other 1,000 things she made weren’t enough. Not complaining, because 1) I love ham and 2) now we have this soup. Stew? Stoup. Anyway, out of the freezer it came, with just enough chunks and pieces of ham left on it to not only flavor the broth, but also dot the stoup throughout. Anyway, I’m sorry if you don’t have a ham bone, so I’m going to suggest with hopefully somewhat convincing authority that if you got some not too heavily salted smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey legs you can make this without the ham bone.
So, first thing is that we boil the ham bone for stock. For hours. Let it get all nice and hammy. To that, we throw in chopped veggies. The standards: onion, carrot, celery and potato for thickening. Thyme for flavor, because we had some to use up. Let that go for another hour or so and then in go the lentils to cook until tender, another 35-40 minutes (others have tried to convince me lentils take 20 minutes. I’ve never had such luck. Thoughts on what I’m doing wrong?). Topped with some parsley and maaaybe some cheese because I’m obsessed, it’s the perfect perfect cold weather feel-good maker. And while you look at this recipe and think of the hours it takes, I remind you that you will be spending many hours at home as the temps continue to hold cold for the next 2-3 months, at least (if you’re in my parts or anywhere north of Route 66). You’ve got the time. Alternatively, break it up into steps over a few days. That’s cool, too.
Wow I’m chatty today. Time to shut up and eat. Thank you for continuing to tune in during this weekend’s edition of The Hungary Buddha Rambles.
- 1 ham bone, hock or 2 smoked turkey leg
- 9-10 cups water
- 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1-1 1/2 cups)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 TB fresh thyme
- 1 16-ounce bag green lentils
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- cheese, if you like
- Place the ham bone in a large stock pot and pour the water over it. Let simmer at least an hour, and keep it going as long as you want. Just let it rock.
- Once the stock is done, add the chopped onion, celery, carrots and potatoes. Let cook about 20 minutes. Add the lentils, give it a good stir and let simmer until the lentils are soft, another 30-40 minutes. Add more water if the lentils are too thick for your taste. Top with parsley and cheese, if you like.
Written during the law school reunion in San Diego before the rest of the house got up.