I’ve had a ham bone in the freezer for several months and our break in hot weather up North here gave me the perfect time to make a pot of soup. It was a cool day and a bowl of soup and maybe some muffins to go along with it sounded like a nice change from all of the grilling and salads we’ve been eating during the hot weather.
Finding the ham bone was the only tough thing about this recipe. My freezer is so packed it took quite awhile to find the bone, which was in the door right in front of my nose. Oh well, I rearranged and organized a lot while I was in there.
I put the bone into one of my soup pots and added about 4 quarts of water. I was going to let it cook for several hours, and the water evaporates pretty good in that time. I also cut an onion in fourths, chopped up about 4 ribs of celery into big chunks, and cut up 3 carrots into large chunks. There was no need to slice and dice since they were going to be discarded once my ham broth was done.
After the soup pot gently bubbled away for a few hours, filling my house with the best smell, I strained out the bone and veggies and put the broth back into the pot. It had reduced down to about 8 cups of broth. I let the bone cool for 20 minutes and pulled off pieces of ham and put them back into the pot with the other ham I’d frozen for the soup as well. It was about 2 cups of ham, total.
I’d found a recipe on Closet Cooking that was almost exactly what I wanted for flavors, so I followed it pretty closely. I diced a large onion, sliced 5 smaller carrots, and 4 ribs of celery and put them into a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. I let them sauté, stirring occasionally, until they lost their crispness. Then they went into my soup pot.
I measured in the oregano and thyme, and put in a teaspoon of garlic powder. I’d skipped sautéing the garlic the recipe called for; I usually prefer garlic powder so I can control the flavor. I also added 2 bay leaves to the pot and let it come to a boil. Adding the lentils was the next step and although the recipe called for 2 cups, my one pound bag was about 2 ½ cups. I threw them all in. I had more broth than the recipe called for so the extra lentils wouldn’t be a problem.
I let the pot of soup bubble gently on medium low for about an hour, stirring it occasionally. It smelled even better now with the seasonings, I can’t describe how delicious the air smelled! I’d been cleaning all day and hadn’t eaten much and was looking forward to a tasty dinner. I made a batch of cornmeal muffins with blueberries to go along with the soup. I’ll post that recipe soon. They turned out pretty amazing too.
When the hour was up, I added a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar to the soup. The recipe didn’t call for it but I’ve picked up the habit of adding a touch of acid to my soups. I’ve seen the tv chefs do that and it really does make the flavors all pop that little bit more with the addition of a vinegar or other acid such as wine. I also taste tested the soup for seasoning and added about a half teaspoon of pepper. I hadn’t added salt due to the amount of ham and ham broth. Additional salt wasn’t necessary.
Just before serving I took out the bag of baby spinach and sliced it a bit. I stirred the entire bag into the soup and let it wilt and heat through. Then we were ready for dinner. I served the soup and muffins, took my post pictures, and we mmmm’ed our way through dinner. This was a very flavorful soup with ham and carrots and spinach in every mouthful. It was so good! We’d missed having soup in so many months of heat. And lentils are such an excellent source of fiber that we should eat more of them. It was a pretty healthy, and tasty soup!
Ham, Lentil and Spinach Soup
1 ham bone
1 onion; quartered
3 carrots; large chunks
4 stalks celery; large chunks
4 quarts of water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion; chopped
3 carrots; chopped
3 stalks celery; chopped
2 cloves garlic; chopped (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
8 cups ham broth or chicken broth or chicken stock
2 cups lentils (I used a 1 lb bag)
2 cups ham (diced)
2 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaf
2 teaspoon thyme
pepper to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 bunch spinach; rinsed and trimmed
In a large pot heat water, ham bone, onion, carrots and celery to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer at medium low for several hours, stirring occasionally. Strain and return the broth to the pot.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the onions, carrot and celery until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, a few minutes.
Add the veggies to the soup pot with the lentils, ham, oregano, bay leaf and thyme and simmer, on medium low heat for an hour.
Add rice wine vinegar and chopped spinach. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes, then serve.