Cooking On A Budget: Lentil Soup with Ham

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lentil Soup with Ham

An on sale ham for New England Boiled Dinner, followed by Ham and Scalloped Potatoes and this Lentil Soup with Ham feeds four people three meals - that's cooking on a budget!

I created a post back in November of 2011 titled Brown Lentils Recipes-Lentil Soup with Ham. I had no camera and in fact as a new blogger no clue that photographs were a must in any food blog. What I did was take an "article" I had written for a now defunct website and place it on this blog. Originally my blog was a way to catalog family recipes I had growing up so that my kids could grab them any time they wanted to.
Before I post the recipe and ingredients I wanted to share that very old post with you which by the way got a whopping 27 page views!

"One of my all time favorite soups my mother made when I was growing up was her lentil soup with ham.  I still make it to this day and I have to say it is one of the most flavorful and fragrant soups. The main ingredients are of course lentils and ham but it is the additional ingredients that in combination make this soup so tasty.  I use the brown lentils, also known as Spanish Pardina which contain vitamins A and B; they are low fat, high protein and high in fiber. Lentils are also rich in potassium, iron and magnesium.  All in all brown lentils are incredibly high in nutrition.
Whenever we have a traditional New England boiled dinner of ham (I use the shank portion), potatoes, carrots and cabbage I can look forward to making a nice pot of lentil and ham soup.  Although the New England boiled dinner should be a one pot meal, I now cook the cabbage on the side.  The reason for this is that I use the broth that the ham was cooked in for the starting base of the lentil soup.  First, I strain the broth that the ham was cooked in and put the broth back in an 8 quart stock pot.  After removing any outer fat of the left over ham and cutting off any large chunks of ham, the ham bone with some ham still intact, will go back in the broth.
While the broth is simmering, I divide the ham up, removing any large pieces of internal fat.  I’ll slice some of the ham for sandwiches and the rest I pull apart, or cut up for the soup. I use 2 large sweet onions, medium dice; add those to the simmering stock along with 3 tablespoons of finely chopped garlic. In addition, I use about a teaspoon of granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon of coarse ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt to start (Don’t add this yet if you started with a salty ham).
Charlemagne once said: “An herb is the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks.”  The next ingredient I add in is the key to the flavor and aroma of my lentil soup: dried oregano. I use dried versus fresh due to the cooking time involved and for me the dried is the best for this particular recipe.  Into the pot goes 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of dried oregano. I add in approximately ½ to ¾ of a bag of brown lentils and finally about a pound of sliced and peeled carrots."

The aroma of this soup cooking is quite intoxicating and the finished product is just scrumptious.

Here is the actual recipe:
  1. Left-over boiled or baked ham with bone - outer fat and rind removed
  2. Ham stock from cooking the ham (and/or cover the ham bone with water to create stock)
  3. 2 lrg. onions - medium dice
  4. 1 lb. carrots - peeled and sliced
  5. 1/2 - 3/4 bag brown lentils - rinsed and picked over
  6. 3 tbsp. chopped garlic
  7. 1 tsp. granulated garlic (you may want to add more than that)
  8. 1 1/2 tbsp. dried oregano
  9. 1 tsp. black pepper
  1. If you have had a baked ham be sure to cut off all of the outer rind that would have been basted and with a boiled ham remove the outer fatty rind and any large fat that you can cut out of the ham without totally dissecting it yet.
  2. Place the bone in ham in a large stock pot with the left-over stock if you have made a boiled ham dinner. Add in enough water to cover the ham.
  3. Bring it up to a slight boil over high heat and then turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours covered. You want the stock to develop flavor. If you did not start with some stock and only water, simmer for 2 - 2 1/2 hours.
  4. Chop your onions and garlic and have the dried spices ready while the stock is simmering. Also have your lentils rinsed and picked over.
  5. Remove the lid and add in the onions, garlic, lentils, carrots and spices.
  6. Continue to cook and simmer for another hour until the lentils soften.
  7. Taste and adjust for more garlic or more black pepper. Wait until the very end to add any extra salt. You will find that as the soup rests and is refrigerated it may have a more intense salt flavor to it.
  8. Pull the ham and bone out of the soup. Allow it to cool down and begin shredding the meat and add back in the soup.
The way we had this growing up as a complete and more hearty meal was that Mom would cook up some elbow macaroni on the side and we would add it to our bowls.

Mom also made sure she had a nice fresh loaf of rye bread for the side to soak up all of the goodness of this wonderful soup! The added bonus is it costs about $3.99 to make the soup and feeds about 8-10 portions so for 8 people 49¢ and 10 people 39¢ per person.

I have a collection of soups here on the blog if you wish to check them out! Just follow the link to my post titled, Soup Recipes. There you will find photographs and links to the recipes.
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