When I was growing up we never went out to dinner. With six kids I can imagine it would have been prohibitively expensive but more than that I can imagine my parents did not anticipate it as fun trying to corral all of us in a restaurant. Thankfully my mom was a good cook…though in retrospect I realize she really did the basics a lot. Spaghetti, meatloaf, fried chicken and grilled hamburgers made their way onto our table with regularity as did fish sticks every Friday night that I can remember. In the winter it would be casseroles, roasts or soups and I remember those soups. Chicken with Dumplings, Split Pea Soup and Brown Lentil Soup. I love them all still and make them much in the same way my mother did all those many years ago.
But the truth is some soups aren’t very pretty and can be hard to photograph so I’ve never bothered putting my brown lentil soup recipe on the blog. Then I discovered some red lentils. They are so pretty! Really more orange but still a far cry from a dirt brown color.
I had just seen my friend Karen post about a white bean soup she had made using a ham bone she had left over from the Honey Baked Ham she had served for Christmas dinner and it made me want some soup. BAD. I recall mentioning to Karen that it sure would be nice if I could just purchase a ham bone from them and not the whole ham; you know, just to make soup. It hit me right after saying that; I wonder if you can? I knew that Honey Baked Hams also sold sandwiches; wouldn’t that result in a leftover ham bone too? I thought it worthy of a phone call and to my complete delight, they do! Not kidding…I was dressed and in the car within 15 minutes of that phone call and back home in a half hour with some canned white beans and a ham bone chock full of meat that had cost me $2.25 a pound. Can you say score? Look how yummy it looks and I pretty much made it just like Karen’s though I didn’t have rosemary so added a bit more bay leaf. Go check out her post for the recipe where I discovered something good…absolutely nothing wrong with the ease of canned white beans!
I only used half of the ham on that bone for the white bean soup so started to think about what else I could make. That bag of red lentils in the pantry were now crying to me. I took the easiest route possible with this soup. Overnight in a crockpot…another SCORE!
Lentils fall apart much quicker than larger beans so the overnight cooking really did turn them and the veggies into a smooth and less chunky soup but I’m glad I did it. The ham fell off the bone and it was tender and so flavorful. And simple. Beyond the basics of carrots, onion, celery, stock and beans was some curry. Some good curry. Some oh my that is fabulous curry. The only minor negative? That initial moment when I woke in the morning and smelled something unfamiliar. There was a moment of huh? What? Oh yeah, that. Whew.
Talk about an easy and super delicious soup; this is it. And not having a ham bone is no excuse; I even hear that Safeway sells them so I’m betting my new and fabulous discovery is old hat to some of you. WHY didn’t you ever tell me?
Red Lentil Soup with Ham and Curry
A tasty and easy soup using a crockpot for cooking.
- 3 Tbsp of olive oil
- 3-4 stalk of celery, sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3-4 carrots, sliced
- 2 tsp curry powder (I used Penzeys Spices Sweet Curry)
- 1 bag of red lentils, rinsed
- 1 ham bone
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Garnish with yogurt and crispy ham or bacon bits.
- Heat olive oil in large pot and saute celery, onion and carrots until onion is translucent.
- Add the curry powder and continue to saute for 2-3 more minutes.
- Place ham bone and lentils in pot.
- Add chicken stock to pot. Add water if necessary to make sure bone is covered. Stir all ingredients. Simmer for 30-45 minutes until lentils are softened.
- Serve with a dollop of yogurt and some crispy ham or bacon bits.
If using a crockpot, saute vegetables and curry in a pan. Put ham bone, sauteed vegetables, lentils, stock and curry into the crockpot and cook on low overnight.