We love the rich flavor and Yankee frugality of this protein-packed winter soup. You make the stock by simmering the lentils with a ham bone, then remove the meat from the bone at the end and add it back to the mix. Nothing wasted. And while the lentils are cooking, you create additional layers of flavor by sweating aromatics like onions, carrots, and celery in butter. A trio of spices (turmeric, cumin, and chili powder) add punch. And that’s it! Serve ham lentil soup with some crusty bread or cheddar-scallion beer bread and a green winter salad.
HAM LENTIL SOUP
Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Note: To make this ham lentil soup vegetarian, eliminate the ham bone and cut the turmeric by half, then add 1 to 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika.
1 pound dry brown lentils
2 1/2 quarts cold water
1 smoked ham bone or ham shank (about 1 pound)
3 tablespoons salted butter
4 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (more if desired)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Garnish: Minced fresh parsley leaves
Combine lentils and water in a 5- to 7-quart heavy-bottomed pot. Add the ham bone, partially cover the pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are barely tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Add more water as necessary.
As lentils finish cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.
Add the vegetable mixture to the lentils in the pot. Simmer, partially covered, until lentils are fully cooked, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove the ham bone and set aside to cool. Cut the meat from the ham bone, chop, and add back to the soup. Serve ham lentil soup hot, garnished with parsley.
Like this recipe? See more of our picks for the best winter soups and comfort food recipes.