Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lentil Soup

It seemed like everybody in Little Rock proudly posted pictures of black eyed peas and collards on Facebook for good luck on New Year's Day.  But to voice my own unpopular opinion, I am admitting that I do not like black eyed peas.  Love collards though.  For 2014, I wanted to make lentils in the place of the black eyed peas.  And I still used the traditional ham hocks that every other good southerner used.  Did you know that in Italy and Hungary, lentils are eaten on New Year's Eve for hope of a prosperous year?  I think I'll subscribe to their beliefs from now on!  

I spent many years waiting tables at an Italian restaurant that is now nothing like it was when I was there.  For our "family" or "employee" meal, we often had our choice of pasta and/or the soup of the day.  It seemed like Lentil Soup was eternally the soup of the day.  And boy did we complain. When it was a free meal!  Although it was a chain, I look back at those days and remember how good it felt to eat with my fellow co-workers, getting to know them better so that we could all work even better together.

The nutritional value of lentils include 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein per serving.  Lentils have many great health benefits.

When I worked at the local Fox & UPN affiliates in Little Rock, we also had a monthly station lunch where the different departments intermingled.  Usually sales and production and the other departments go their separate ways, but I have to say that that the station lunches resulted in equally beneficial outcomes as far as productivity went!  Doesn't food bring people together? 

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of dry lentils
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 8 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • parmigiano - reggiano for garnish
Directions:
  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat with a little extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Add the onions, cook about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, careful not to let it burn.
  3. After about 3 minutes, add the stock and water.  Increase heat to high until boiling.
  4. Add the ham hocks.  Salt & pepper well.  Add 2 tbsp fish sauce for extra depth of flavor.
  5. Simmer over low heat for 2 hours.
  6. Add the lentils, cook for 20 minutes over a medium simmer, then remove the ham hocks.
  7. Shred the meat of the ham hocks, discarding the fat and bones.  Add back into the soup.
  8. Serve with the parmigiano - reggiano.  Or without if you're doing the Paleo thing.


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