It's been so nice to have a long Easter weekend. After spending most of the weekend with family, conducting an easter egg hunt then eating what seemed like a tonne of chocolate eggs, it was also nice to get back home again.
I took myself for a walk and enjoyed the crisp morning air. Then Mr Shady Pine and I took time out and had brunch at a local cafe here. It was really peaceful enjoying the valley views and a beautifully cooked breakfast. Sipping our coffee, there was nowhere to rush to. Bliss!
It was the sort of beautiful Autumn sunny day where you knew that as soon as the sun bid its good night, it was going to be a chilly evening. Chilly evenings got me thinking about soup. And the thought of soup saw me standing in front of the butcher shop. So it was this chain of thoughts that propelled me home with a smoked ham hock and inevitably had me cooking this soup.
Like all good soups, this one takes time. But it's lovely to have a big pot of soup bubbling away gently as you potter around the house. Do take the time to find a good quality ham hock for this soup as it will make all the difference. Once the soup is cooked, the meat should be falling off the bone. Only then can it be shredded and returned back to the lentil thickened broth to make this hearty and delicious soup.
Ham & red lentil soup
1 smoked ham hock
1 ½ cup red lentils
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs sweet paprika
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
2 Tbs olive oil
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
¼ cup chopped parsley
1. Place the ham hock in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil then turn off the heat immediately. Drain the hock and put aside.
2. Rinse the lentils well in a colander.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the vegetables and garlic and sauté for about 8 minutes.
4. Add the paprika, pepper to taste and chilli if using and cook out the spices for a couple of minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes, lentils and ham hock to the pot.
6. Add the water. Stir, cover and allow to simmer on low heat for about 1 ½ - 2 hours. Add salt to taste half way through cooking time.
7. Remove the ham hock. Shred the ham and discard the bone. Return the shredded ham back to the pot. Stir in the parsley and serve hot with crusty bread if desired.