Yesterday, while making up a batch of this Spicy Lentil Soup with Ham, I was reminded of three things:
1. Using a homemade stock and dry lentils is always better - both lend a richness and depth to the soup impossible to attain using boxed or canned varieties.
2. Improvise - while prudent to take inventory and assemble ingredients prior to cooking a specific dish - when you hit a glitch (in this case no celery) make adjustments and move on... it's how so many great things are created in the kitchen!
3. Pork - it has the uncanny ability to enhance the flavor of anything it touches...(I was not really reminded of this...I knew it all along...just seems worth repeating :)
Spicy Lentil Soup with Ham
2 Ham Steaks, diced (about 1/2 lb)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb dry, small green lentils, rinsed and picked over
8 cups Homemade Chicken Stock
1 scant tablespoon *Celery Salt
1 scant tablespoon *Moroccan Spice Blend (recipe follows)
Olive oil for sauteing...
In a large stockpot with lid, over medium-high heat, add olive oil and ham and cook until ham begins to "sweat" and slightly render down (about 4 minutes). Add onion, carrot and garlic and continue cooking until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-8 minutes.
Add *celery salt (I opted to use celery salt because I was out of celery and knew my homemade chicken stock was NOT salty; therefor adding celery salt would not over salt the soup. If using boxed or canned broth, I would NOT use celery salt, rather 2 diced celery stalks, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed if (like me) you're out of celery or simply omit.)
Add Moroccan Spice blend (recipe follows) and lentils, stirring together until lentils are well coated with the spice.
Add homemade broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down heat to a simmer, cover the pot and continue cooking until lentils are soft, about 45 minutes to an hour.
(Note: I stopped short of naming this soup Moroccan Spiced Lentil Soup with Ham because - if what I read online is correct - the people of Morocco who are mostly Muslim do not eat pork.)
A little spicy...a whole lot delicious!!!!
Moroccan Spice Blend
Gourmet, April 2004
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix all together and store in an air tight container - great spice to have on hand for meats, seafood, soups and stews.