Atlanta restaurant reviews, culinary news, and gluttonous gossip by admitted foodaholic Serina Patrick

Hearty Homemade Lentil Soup

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My Mom often made lentil soup when I was a kid. I didn’t love it then, but after LC’s holiday heart attack (the kind of Christmas surprise no one wants), I started looking for healthy recipes to add to our dinner repetoire.

I discovered that lentils are extremely high in heart-healthy fiber. In addition, the recipes I found were full of vegetables like carrots and spinach. With this frigid wintry weather, I had developed a craving for the hearty soup.

The following recipe is an adaptation of many that I printed, relying heavily on Emeril Lagasse’s version on The Food Network’s website. For the vegetarian version, leave out the ham and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Lentil Soup with Ham

2 tblsp. olive oil
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup thin sliced carrots
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tblsp. chopped parsley
2 smoked ham hocks
4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium, low-fat chicken stock (I use Pacific)
3 cups water
1 cup brown lentils (1/2 lb)
3 cups baby spinach
black pepper
salt

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and saute for 4 minutes. Add bay leaves and thyme and saute for 1 minute. Add the ham hocks, stock, and water. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 1 hour. Add the lentils and continue to cook for 30-45 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Take the ham hocks out of the pot and remove the meat, adding it back to the pot of broth. Stir in the spinach and parsley and cook until just wilted, then reseason with salt and pepper if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread.

(Note: this soup was very easy to make, although I found the lentils take much longer to cook than the recipes called for, so I added 15 minutes to the cook time, which was originally 20-30 minutes)

Makes 4-6 servings.

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