Like a turkey, the biggest reason to cook a ham is for the bone.  I love making soup.  Leftovers are great, sandwiches are great, all-the-other-things-you-can-make-with-leftover-turkey-or-ham are great.  But The Soup is The Best.  Especially when it’s really cold outside.

For a ham bone, bean soup, split pea soup, or lentil soup come immediately to mind.  It’s almost a free meal.  And soup is flat-out one of the easiest things in the world to make.

We chose lentil tonight.  There are lots of lentils in the cabinet.  Red, yellow, brown, and a few pounds of French green lentils (lentilles du Puy) I picked up at Atlantic Spice.     I went with the French lentils tonight, although any will work.  These hold their shape and don’t disintegrate like some of the others do – both a plus and a minus when making soup.

Lentil Soup

  • 1 ham bone
  • 2 qts chicken broth
  • 1 qt water
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups lentils
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 tsp herbs d’Provence
  • 2 bay leaves
  • splash of Tabasco or cayenne pepper

Saute onion, celery, and carrots in soup pot.  Add broth, water, and bone.  Simmer about an hour.

Remove bone.  Add lentils and herbs.

Cut any remaining meat from bone and add to pot.  Simmer until lentils are cooked through, 20-30 minutes, depending on type of lentils.

Add a splash or two of tabasco.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired.

Hit the pot with an immersion blender for a few spins to thicken a bit.

Serve with warm, crusty bread.

There are a million-and-one variations on lentil soup.  You can add tomatoes, you can add a bit of balsamic vinegar, it can be vegetarian, vegan, thick or thin.  You should note that lentils take longer to cook in salty or acidic liquid, so add your salt and tomatoes, vinegars, etc., after they are cooked.

And not only are they good, but they’re good for you, too.  Lentils are high in fiber, protein, folate, amino acids, antioxidants, iron, magnesium and zinc.  They are also low in fat.