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.