Whilst in Scotland we went out for lunch a few times. We noted that the local cafes made a big thing of home cooked soups. We chose from a soup menu in one such establishment which included ham & pea soup as well about 4 other options.
It was a lovely homely, thick soup and made me want to cook soup when we returned home. I went to town and purchased a cheap bacon joint but failed to find split green peas in our small local coop branch. Settling on lentils we made a basic soup recipe which was delicious.
As I watched the TV last night we saw a ham & lentil soup being made on the hairy bakers show (I think it’s UK only TV series but please do look it up on the web as they have lots of lovely baking suggestions). Ours is slightly different but I think all versions are probably yummy.
I purchased a small bacon joint in the supermarket but gammon or good ham would all be good if a little more expensive.
This would serve 4 people for lunch as well as enough bacon for a dinner for 2. Just increase the quantities for a bigger pot of soup and don’t worry about weighing things too much.
1 unsmoked bacon joint – ours was 1.2 kg
A blob of butter for cooking
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and then peeled
2 carrots, peeled & sliced quite thinly
2 sticks celery, washed, de stringed & sliced
Half a swede, peeled & chopped into small pieces. Ours were chopped into battons about an inch (2.5cm) long and a half an inch wide (1 ish cm)
350 grammes of lentils or a good part of the half kilo bag they sell
The day before you want the soup soak the bacon joint in a bowl of water. You only need to cover the meat with the water and leave it for a few hours to get rid of some of the saltiness.
Then get a saucepan that is big enough for your bacon joint and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until cooked. We cooked the 1.2kg for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The general guidelines for boiling bacon are 20 minutes per pound (454grammes) plus 20 minutes. You need to keep the water the meat has been cooked in.
We then ate half the bacon for our dinner served with mashed potatoes and green beans.
The next day
Heat a biggish pan – it will need a lid and need to hold all your soup – put the butter in and cook gently until the butter has melted. Stir in the onion & garlic cooking gently for about 10 minutes.
Stir in all the prepared vegetables and pop the lid on for 10 minutes checking regularly and stirring to make sure they don’t stick
Whilst this is cooking chop the bacon joint left over’s into bite sized pieces and add to the pan. You are eating it so make them the size you like.
Rinse the lentils under cold water and stir them into your pan of cooking meat & veg.
Pour over some of the liquid you saved from cooking the meat. It needs to cover the cooking meat, veg and lentils plus a little bit. Give it all a good stir and bring to the boil. Then turn down to a high simmer for 10 minutes. Again you must check and stir the pan every few minutes or it will stick. Also if it looks too thick add a bit more water.
If at this point you are asking what is too thick then think that the food needs to keep absorbing the liquid so make sure it always has some water visible.
Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer for about another 15 to 20 minutes. You need the vegetables to cook though.
Add black pepper to taste. You shouldn’t need salt.
Now this chunky, filling soup is ready to dish up.
If you are a smooth soup only peroson then whizz it up in the blender.
This can be made a day or two in advance and keeps well in the fridge as well as being good to freeze.