Gammy’s Hearty Lentil Soup

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The nice thing about soups is that it affords you a great opportunity to clean out the fridge, especially leftover vegetable odds and ends.

I like to freeze the water my vegetables cooked in and use it for my base. Pot liquor from greens is particularly tasty, and a modicum of leftover greens swirled in adds a lot. Yellow squash will add some color and vitamin A. For the meat I use anything pork; ham, kielbasa or andouille sausage, leftover pork tenderloin, etc. You can’t go wrong! The trick is the adjustment of the seasonings as the soup is done; since the bacon and beef broth have salt in them don’t add anymore until the very end. You very well may have to increase the intensity of beef flavor, which I do with cubes or “Better than Boullion” one tablespoon at a time. A few shakes of hot sauce livens it up. Just keep tasting until it’s right.

2 cups dry lentils
10 cups liquid, water or vegetable water
6 slices bacon
2 cups ham ( or more) in bite sized pieces, plus the bone if you have it
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut up ( if you don’t like it so hot, use kielbasa)
2 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots sliced thin
1 round TB minced garlic from the jar
1 lg can diced tomatoes or fresh equivalent
1 can LeSeur peas
1/4 cup butter
6 TB flour
2 10 oz cans of beef stock
2 TB vinegar


Soak lentils in a large Dutch oven ( mine is a # 30 Le Cruset) overnight, pour off the water. Add 10 cups liquid, boil for an hour. Cook bacon in a large skillet and set aside. Add the butter to the bacon grease in the skillet and saute the vegetables until they are limp. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir until it is absorbed. Add the vinegar and beef stock and bring to a simmer, cooking until smooth and thick, about one minute. Add to the pot along with the rest of the ingredients and crumbled bacon and cook another 30 minutes or longer. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with a green salad and French bread.

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