3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrot
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2+ qts. chicken stock
1 lb. brown dried lentils
1 smoked ham shank
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with bay leaf
1 bay leaf, dried
1-1/2 tsp. Balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
In 6-8 quart saucepot, heat oil on medium. Add onion, celery, carrot and parsley. Cook 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are translucent and beginning to soften, stirring occasionally.
To saucepot add the following: stock, lentils, ham hock, garlic, thyme/bay leaf bundle and red pepper. Heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to maintain simmer; cook 45-60 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Note: Ham shank is salty, use care when adding more salt.
Before serving, discard thyme/bay leaf and ham shank bone. Ham shank meat may need to be chopped into small pieces if it hasn’t fallen apart from cooking.
Note: Freezes well, up to 6 months in sealed container. Additional chicken stock may be added during cooking if a less condensed soup is desired.