Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Don’t throw away that ham bone until you’ve made some soup!

Here in Minnesota, it’s not just cold in the winter—it’s BITTERLY COLD! That’s what one of my co-workers said last month as he was experiencing his first exposure to Minnesota winter. In response, I gently reminded him that it was only December. Historically, January is even colder.

All that to say, it’s a great time of the year to think about making soup, especially a crockpot recipe that not only warms you as you eat it, but also warms your kitchen a bit while it’s cooking all day long.

That’s what I did yesterday while I was working from home. I put together a big crockpot of Lentil-Ham Soup in the morning. When my husband came home last night, we both enjoyed this hot, hearty meal. And because it makes a big batch, we’ll enjoy it again as planned-overs in the days ahead.

I choose to title this post “Don’t throw away the ham bone…” because I used a ham bone that my mother-in-law saved for me after baking a ham for Christmas Eve this year. She wrapped it in foil and packed it in a zippered freezer bag along with some of the leftover meat from the meal. She gave it to me because she knows that I’m probably the only woman in our family who regularly makes soup…I’m very thankful to have such a thoughtful and generous mother-in-law.

So that’s one good way to get a hold of a ham bone so that you can make this wonderful recipe. Or, you can do like we also do and watch for sales on bone-in ham before holidays. Our local grocery chain often has a buy-one-get-one-free sale before Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. So we always try to have a ham or two in our chest freezer. Then, because it’s usually just two of us for dinner, I slice each ham into dinner-sized portions, saving the bone for a future soup meal. You can also make this soup without the bone if you just have the meat to use. But I have found that the bone imparts a much richer flavor to the recipe.

Lentil –Ham Soup

1 lb. (2-1/3 cups) dry lentils
1-1/2 cups chopped carrot
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
¼ cup snipped parsley
1 tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. dried marjoram, crushed
½-tsp. ground black pepper
2 large bay leaves
1 meaty ham bone (about 1-1/2 lbs.)

Add all ingredients to your crockpot, ending with the ham bone on the top. Add 7 cups water. Cover and cook on medium setting for 9-11 hours. Lift ham bone from soup. Remove meat from bone, and chop and return meat to soup. Serves 10.


USAincognito said...

It is definitely bitterly cold up here in the Midwest. Great soup weather, indeed! :)

Karen said...

It certainly is cold right, Shorty! And I would imagine that you definitely feel, being a southern gal...How are you doing health-wise these days? I remember that you mentioned at one point that your health suffers when the temperatures drop. I'll remember to pray for you about that.

USAincognito said...

Yeah, when the temps drop, I tend to get sick quite quickly and easily. Oh well. I have just learned to deal with it (however that is possible) and I still do my job. It does get to be frustrating at times but until the timing is right, I am here for awhile.

Karen said...

I'll keep praying for your health, Shorty. It's been an exceptionally cold year.