WEST COAST WEATHER FOOD
A typical day in British Columbia might entail some fog, a bit of mist or rain. On days like that, a hearty bowl of soup is always a treat. Soup is lovely because it is healthy, satisfying, freezes well and can feed a crowd and on a drizzly, grey day, it is nice to be indoors with friends. A good lentil soup is easy to make in the crockpot and turns out perfectly with little hassle. It can be vegetarian or you can add meat as well. For those looking for a good, light protein fix after workouts, this is also a great option.
The lentils are combined with a form of mirepoix which is basically added flavour through onions, celery and carrots. I take it one step further by adding fresh parsley and garlic. You have the option of chopping 1 small onion, 3 small carrots, 3 celery stalks, 1/2 C parsley and 2 garlic cloves and either adding them raw to the crockpot, or sautéing them in about 3 Tbsp of olive oil which is my preference.
By cooking the vegetables on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutest they will soften and caramelize and they won’t be crunchy in the soup. Once the vegetables are cooked, add flavours to the mixture. A simple mix of paprika, salt and pepper is enough as other herbs will also be added.
Once the spices are mixed in, add a bay leaf and several sprigs of fresh thyme.
Layer the vegetables at the base of the crockpot. Rinse 1 C of dried green lentils and layer them on the vegetables. You can also use red lentils or brown lentils. There are varieties. You might even try a combination.
Next bring on the meat! Ham hocks are large, smoked pieces of pork that will add intense flavour to your lentils. If you are making a vegetarian version, skip this step obviously.
Add the ham hock whole into your crockpot if you wish. I prefer to cut it up for several reasons. First, It allows the meat to fall off the bone more easily during the cooking process. Second, it is pre cut for serving so you don’t have to mess with it as much later.
To have a nice consistency and even more taste, add 4 C of chicken broth (vegetable if making this dish vegetarian) and 2 C of water.
The soup will be hot after cooking on low for 8 hours and it is nice to have the ability to simply remove the bones and skin quickly and cleanly from the pot. There is one more optional step before turning on the crockpot and that is adding the tomato. There are a few options here. You can add 1/2 a small can of tomato paste OR 1 can of crushed tomatoes OR, what I like to do is make a simple tomato base from scratch. It tastes only a few minutes and consists of 2 ripe, diced tomatoes, salt and oregano. Stir over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until a paste-like consistency forms. The time will depend on how ripe the tomatoes are. Add that mixture to the pot.
The final product will look like this:
The bones and skin are then removed.
You will be left with a thick, lentil soup with chunks of ham throughout and it will be loaded with flavour.
Crockpot Lentil Soup
1 C dried green lentils (rinsed)
2 garlic cloves (sliced)
3 small carrots (chopped)
3 celery stalks (chopped)
1 small onion (chopped)
2 tomatoes (cooked) or a can of diced tomatoes or 1/2 can tomato paste.
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1 heaping tsp sweet paprika
1/2 C fresh parsley (chopped)
6 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
4 C chicken broth
2 C water
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large ham hock (1 kilo bone in)
1. Heat olive oil and sauté celery, onions, carrots, garlic, and parsley until softened (approximately 5 minutes).
2. Combine salt, paprika and pepper.
3. Add spice mix to sautéed vegetables.
4. Add vegetable mix and tomato to the base of the crockpot.
5. Add bay leaf and thyme.
6. Layer the rinsed lentils on the vegetables.
7. Add ham hock.
8. Pour water and broth into the crockpot.
9. Cover and set on low for 8 hours.
Protein 20.9 g