Ham, Lentil & Veggie Soup Print Email

1 large ham bone with at least 1-cup meat
- or 2 ham shanks, cut 1-2 inches thick
12 cups water
2 bay leaves & pinches of crushed red pepper
8 oz lentils
2 cloves garlic, sliced
28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
pinches of crushed red pepper
8 cups veggies (about), cut into small bite sized pieces (the wider the variety the better, I used carrots, celery, onion, leek, potato, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and bell peppers)
1 tsp Italian herb medley, to taste
Chicken, vegetable or ham base (optional)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Remove meat from bone, chop and reserve (1 cup is nice, 2 plus cups is better!). Place ham bone in water along with bay leaves and crushed red pepper and bring to a simmer - cover partially and cook until the bone is almost ready to fall apart - 1.5-2 hours - skimming as needed.

Add lentils, garlic, tomatoes and hard veggies (reserve softer veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower, adding last 15-30 minutes of cooking time). If a lot of the water has evaporated, add more as desired. Simmer partially covered for about 1 hour, chopping tomatoes with a spoon and stirring occasionally. Add reserved chopped ham (if you like a lot of ham, ask the deli clerk for an end piece of ham at a discount). Taste and adjust with chicken, vegetable or ham base (if a richer flavor is desired) and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Serving suggestions: Can be served as a soup or over rice with bread or cornbread and a salad. Great accented with Sriracha hot sauce, or Mexican hot sauce and ketchup (for a flavor similar to red beans and rice). For an Italian accent, serve over spaghetti with lots of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. - Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com -- www.TonyRosacciCatering.com