Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lentil & Vegetable soup: Vegetarian or Ham Bone!

I like recipes that give you a choice of either having it vegetarian or as a meat dish and still taste good, no matter which way you choose to make this recipe.

When I was young, I loved to visit my grandmothers home in New Mexico, she was such a accomplished cook and the aromas that were always floating in the air in her home made my stomach growl.   Not just in my Grandma's house but, all through the neighborhood. One thing l learned from grandma is, do not add everything to your pot at once.  Let the flavors develop, one step at a time and an also a good broth is key. 

If you would like this soup to be vegetarian, omit the ham bone. Replace the 4 1/2 cups of water with vegetable stock, homemade or store bought, your choice.


1 ham bone
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 onion
1/2 cup grated carrots
1 cup of chopped carrots
2 14.5 oz cans of fire roasted tomatoes
2 14.75 oz cans of cream corn
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup rice
1/2 green bell pepper
1 teaspoon chopped garlic 
2 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 tablespoon chili powder 
1/2 teaspon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle peppers
3 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
A pinch or two of red pepper flakes

It will be Just fine...

Do not let the amount of ingredients deter you from making this lovely soup. 

It is really easy and I will guide you along the way.  Soon this soup will become second nature to you. 

Basically there are very few steps you must go through and in the end, it will be well worth it, I promise.

Dice onion and garlic.

Grate 1/2 cup of carrots. 

Slice carrots and set aside.

Grab all your spices and head to the stove.

Fry it up in a Pan

On medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a 5 quart pot. 

When the oil gets hot, add your onions, grated carrots and saute for 3 minutes or until your vegetables have started to brown around the edges. 

After 3 minutes, add to your pot, garlic, chili powder, cumin, sweet paprika, black pepper, chipolte pepper, dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of salt and red pepper flakes. 

Saute on medium heat for 1 minutes.

Ham it up!

Place your ham bone in your pot, cover the ham bone with 4 1/2 quarts of water and add your bay leaf. 

Bring your soup base to a boil, turn down the heat to low , cover and cook for 1 hour.

Take off your lid, turn your burner up to medium high, cook for 20 minutes.

Almost There

After your 30 minutes is up, remove the ham bone.  When the ham bone has cooled a bit, you can remove the bits of ham and add to your soup.

Add 2 cans of tomatoes and 2 cans of cream corn.  Add your sliced carrots.  Cook for 30 minutes, on medium heat.

Add those Lentils

Rinse your lentils in a strainer, add your lentils and 1/2 of a green bell pepper (or any other bell pepper you have) to your pot. 

Bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer.

Cover with your lid and simmer for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, add your rice and bring to a boil. When your rice reaches a boil. place your lid back on your pot, turn your burner on low and simmer for 20 minutes or until your rice is cooked all the way through..

While your Soup is Simmering

Place your spinach in some cheesecloth and squeeze the water out of your spinach.

In a frying pan on medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the pan gets hot, add your spinach. 

Saute your spinach for 3 minutes. 

Watch out, the spinach might splatter and it does hurt a bit.   Add your lemon pepper, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, honey and saute for 2 more minutes.

Add your spinach to the soup. Cook your soup on medium heat for 5 minutes and then serve.

If you don't have lemon pepper available then just add the zest of 1/2 of a lemon and about 1/2 teaspoon (or more if you like) of 'fresh' cracked black pepper.

Dig on in!

With a nice piece of bread of your choosing, this lentil soup makes a wonderful meal. Soups and stews are very healthy and I find them economically low for a large amount of hot goodness. 

For a few more of my soup/stew recipes, please visit my pages...

Succotash Stew 
Potato, Squash & Carrot Soup

All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different, it is acceptable and appreciated) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)

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