Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lentil Soup

Now that fall is here (at least weatherwise), my thoughts turn to soup. I definately take after my Grandma Mabel when it comes to cooking. She had what I call "grandma magic" in that she could whip up yummy goodies without the use of recipes (the downside of grandma magic is she never could create the same recipe twice, esp cookies :( And she made some mighty fine cookies :) I've been coming into my own "grandma magic" tho I am rather young and won't ever be a grandmother.

So here we go with lentil soup. Measurements won't be exact and you'll have to work to make it taste good to you. Also, I use a 6 quart crockpot, tho you can cook this in a big soup pot on your stove and add or delete ingredients as you like (one reason I love soup it is so easy and you can fix it the way you like).

Start with one ham bone with meat still on or a ham hock or two (for a vegetarian soup, eliminate the ham bone/ham hock and use a good hearty vegetable stock, either homemade or store bought). Put ham bone/ham hocks in crock pot and fill crockpot to 2/3 full of water (this may not cover the bone all the way, but you can turn it during the course of simmering) and cover. If you have a crockpot with auto shift, set to auto shift. If not, set to high for about 1-1 1/2 hours, then set to low. Simmer until ham bone can be pulled apart and the meat is falling off. Remove from crockpot and set aside to cool.

Take about 3-4 cups lentils (any color), remove any stones and wash. Add to liquid in crockpot, season with salt and pepper. Chop and add one small onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Just let the lentils simmer. When meat is cool, shred into small pieces and add back to soup. Now this is where grandma magic can come in, trying to get the flavor the way you will like. I find that roasted sesame oil and worchestershire sauce really add wonderful flavor, but you have to add them slowly and in small amounts. Once you add them, stir in well and let soup simmer for a while. Then give it a taste, sometimes you'll need more of something, figuring it out is the magic :D I usually find that I have to add a bit more worchestershire sauce a couple of times until it tastes right . The lentils will cook down to the consistency of split pea soup. I find that while it tastes yummy that first day, it is better then next, once all the flavors have had a chance to meld together.

A good size pot will feed 2 for several days or a crowd the first night when paired with a yummy loaf of bread and a salad of mixed greens. One thing I found yummy was reheating it a couple of days later and adding a package of frozen chopped brocoli/cauliflower and then heat thru YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
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