Monday, April 16, 2012

Garden Lentil & Ham Soup

I mentioned in a previous post that Easter weekend was going to be our first weekend in a long time that we hadn't had visitors.  While it was nice to be with just my husband and kids, it also means I probably didn't need to buy a huge ham.  But what is Easter dinner without ham??  Needless to say we've been eating ham leftovers all week and everyone was hammed out.  So, I threw most of the leftovers in the freezer saving out a bit to make this yummy soup.  I threw in what veggies I had hanging out in the cripser and it turned out great!  This would be perfect with a nice crusty loaf of bread to soak up the broth.  It would be really easy to make this vegetarian; just omit the ham and use vegetable broth instead of chicken.

And a reminder, if you haven't been to my facebook page check it out here!  I'll be doing a giveaway when I reach 100 likes, so tell your friends :)

1 c. dried lentils
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 container grape tomatoes, whole
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. diced cooked ham
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
5 c. chicken broth
1 c. water
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2-3 c. fresh baby spinach
a splash of lemon juice or hot sauce (optional for serving)

Put the chopped ham into a large saucepan over medium high heat and begin to brown. This should render enough fat to brown the veggies in.  You can add a little olive oil if you need to if things get sticky.  Add the onions, carrots, and bell peppers.  Cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften, then add garlic.  Cook another two minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, except spinach.  Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer at least 40 min. until lentils are cooked.  This can stay on the stovetop simmering for quite some time, or even in the slow cooker (11 hours on low).  Add the spinach a few minutes before you are ready to eat.  Top with any lemon juice or hot sauce to taste.

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