This hearty winter soup is made with red lentils, veggies and a ham bone (hock). Call it dinner! It's flavour secret is using the water the ham was cooked in as stock. This is good made the day before and then reheated.
400-600g red lentils (no need to soak), rinsed
1 ham shank (ham hock)
2 carrots, chopped
2-3 celery sticks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
pinch nutmeg (pref freshly grated)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup (125ml) cream (optional)
1 teaspoon curry powder
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Put the ham shank into a large pot and fill with water up to the ham. Bring to the boil and cook for ten minutes then discard and refill with fresh water. (This helps reduce the saltiness.)
Bring to boil and simmer ham for 2 hours or until falling away from the bone.
When the ham is almost cooked melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the carrot, celery and onion on a low heat covered, stirring ocasionaly for 15-20 mins or until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 mins more.
Remove the ham from the pot and set aside on a plate reserving the cooking water in a large bowl.
Transfer the vegetables to the pot the ham was cooked in, and add all the remaining ingredients except the cream.
Skim off any scum from the ham cooking water and taste the water for saltiness. If it's not too salty add enough of it to the soup pot so that the ingredients are just about covered. If its too salty use less and top the stock up with fresh water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 30-40 mins or until the lentils are soft and cooked. Remove the bay leaf and blend the soup - but still leave some texture there.
Break or shred the ham and stir into soup. Check seasoning. If using the cream, let the soup cool for 30 mins or so then stir in the cream.