When the cold weather bites and your heart starts to feel a little heavy at long dark nights through the interminable winter months, there’s one thing that wraps you up like a childhood comfort blanket. A big bowl o’ soup. Lentil soup was never my favourite growing up, I always preferred the creamy bite of barley in Scotch Broth. However, as with many things, nostalgia seems to coat the tastebuds with a little more tolerance and those things you used to turn your nose to start to taste better and bring a certainty to an uncertain life. This soup can be made with stock cubes, but is far better when you’ve made the stock yourself by boiling a ham hough or ribs for a couple of hours. The twin benefit of releasing a natural smoky, salty flavour whilst also yielding the meat to supplement the pulses. However if you’re in a hurry of an evening substitute the ham for 3 stock cubes. This is my Mum’s recipe and I’ve not even bothered trying to tamper with it. Why would you?!
1 ham hough or 350g ham ribs, preferably smoked
1 mug red lentils (around 200g)
2 leeks chopped
3 carrots grated
Salt and pepper
1. Place the ham in a large saucepan, cover with approximately 2.5 pints cold water and cover. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 2 hours until tender. Remove the meat and bones, reserving the meat.
2. Add the lentils and vegetables and bring back to the boil, reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are tender.
3. Add the strewn meat back in, correct for seasoning and serve with a good grinding of black pepper.