Monday, January 7, 2013

Smokey Lentil Soup

This soup is still on my stove top simmering away. I had to share this recipe with you right away because it came out  perfect. It's by far the best lentil soup I have ever made. I also wanted to make sure I wrote this recipe down right away, so I wouldn't forget what I did. I wasn't sure what to expect when I combined all the ingredients, but I am very happy with the results.

What makes this soup special is using the left over ham bone from the holidays. For those of you who are like me and do not love split pea soup, this soup is a great alternative for using a leftover ham bone. Simmering the bone in the soup gave a smoky flavor to the broth and each bite now has bits of the delicious ham.

If you don't have a leftover ham bone, you can still make the soup, it won't have that smokiness but it will still be a great lentil soup. Enjoy!!!

Health Benefits:
Lentils are among the healthiest foods available. One cup of lentils has 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. It is said that lentils can help lower cholesterol and are famous for protecting your heart. More benefits include unusually high in folacin and vitamin B.

Smokey Lentil Soup 
Serves 6

Olive oil
1 medium yellow onion-diced
2 celery stalks-diced
1 baking potato-smal; dice
2 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (preferably homemade, recipe below)
1/4 cup fresh Basil-chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup green lentils (rinsed and drained)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 leftover ham bone
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add in onions, celery and potatoes and cook 8-10 minutes until softened. Stir frequently to prevent browning.

Add in tomato paste and stir for 30 seconds. Add in tomato sauce and stir to combine. Stir in chopped basil. Season with a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes and a pinch of pepper.

Add in lentils and chicken stock. Nestle ham bone into the soup, partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the bone and cut any meat off the ham bone. Return any meat from bone back into the soup. Discard bone.

Cover and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Tomato Sauce:
In a medium sauce pan, coat with olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add in onions and cook until soft;8-10 mins. Add in 1 tbsp tomato paste and stir for 30 seconds. Add in 28 oz can of whole canned tomatoes. Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes until sauce is a chunky consistency. Add in 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil. Simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered.

**You can add the chunky sauce to the soup or you can puree in a blender or food processor for other uses.

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