PHOTO BY CHERYL WIXSON

Like the Italians, eat lentils for prosperity



Although a glass of champagne at midnight and a kiss may be the way most Americans celebrate the new year, people around the world enjoy a variety of traditional food customs. Special cakes and breads, herring (representing abundance), long noodles (a long life), pigs (good luck), and field peas (coins) are a few of the many ways we share a meal with family and friends to usher in a new year of prosperity.

When our tribe was young, my friend Judy Gervais Williams (originally from Aroostook County) introduced me to the French Acadian custom of split pea soup. On New Year’s Day, our two families would enjoy skating or sliding and then rendezvous for an early supper. Noses and cheeks pink with cold, we’d gather round to enjoy a bowl of robust porridge, swap stories, and share memories.

The recipe for Lentil & Ham Soup is a traditional version of a filling, stick-to-your-ribs stew. A creative use of the remnants of the Christmas Day dinner’s baked ham inspired this recipe. Lentils and chopped vegetables are simmered in a hearty ham broth. While you may find that chopping vegetables is a laborious process, a food processer makes quick work.

This savory soup cooks up quite quickly, but like most classics, a day or two (or more) of “rest” allows the flavors to marry. By adding cooked ham and a small amount of pork sausage, it is also an economical way to stretch the meat budget and still provide plenty of protein without sacrificing flavor.

The recipe for Lentil & Ham Soup is only a template for the cook’s creativity. Vary the veggies, go wild with fresh herbs, add more meat or even pasta. For a special luncheon or supper, enjoy hot bowls of soup with freshly baked corn bread or popovers, a slaw or salad and applesauce.

This hearty soup is delicious packed in a thermos for the lunch box. Freeze extra in quart containers for a quick supper.

Start your own family tradition, and may you have good fortune in the new year!

Lentil & Ham Soup
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Servings
12 cups
Servings
12 cups
Lentil & Ham Soup
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings
12 cups
Servings
12 cups
Ingredients
  • 1.25 cups dried lentils picked over and rinsed
  • 6 cups ham, veggie or chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped carrots about 2 to 3
  • 1 cup chopped celery or celeriac
  • 1 small shallot chopped (or small onion)
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chopped ham or more
  • 8 oz. pork sausage cooked
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 Tbsps. chopped fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme)
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
Servings: cups
Units:
Instructions
  1. Wash and pick over the lentils and add to a large soup pot. Add the stock. Coarsely chop the carrots, celery, shallot and garlic. Add the chopped veggies, bay leaf, oregano and tomato puree to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes or more until the vegetables and lentils are tender.
  2. Chop the ham. Cook and crumble the sausage. Chop the fresh herbs.
  3. When the lentils are soft, remove the soup from the heat. Remove the bay leaf. If desired, puree a portion of the soup to make it creamy. Stir in the chopped ham, cooked sausage and fresh herbs. Taste the soup and season to taste with Maine sea salt and fresh pepper.
Recipe Notes

Nutritional analysis per cup: 183 calories, 13 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat, 780 mg. sodium, 7 grams fiber.

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Cheryl Wixson
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.
Cheryl Wixson

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