Each New Year's Day, I cook a dinner to start the year off on a healthy and positive note. In previous years, I've made a black-eyed pea soup, but for 2010 I opted for a change: Lentil Ham Soup. Lentils are also known to increase one's luck, and, as luck would have it, we all love lentils.
I've been making this soup for many years, and even though it tastes good on the day it's made, it's even better the following day. Guess what we're having for dinner tonight?
Accompanying the soup is cornbread. I alternate between several recipes just because.
This year I decided to play a cooking game with myself. I chose 12 chefs/bakers that I wanted to focus on during the year, and the plan is to make one recipe per week from the chosen one. If I get too busy, I might only be able to prepare one during the month, and since it's just for fun, I'll cut myself some slack.
For the selection process, I wrote their names on little bits of paper, placed the paper bits in a bag, then did a blind draw.
January will be Julia Child.
Now, to start planning.
Lentil Ham Soup
In a large saucepan sauté ½ c. minced onion, 1/3 c. minced celery, and 2 garlic cloves, minced, in 3 Tablespoons butter until vegetables are soft
Dice enough cooked ham to measure ¾ c., add it to the vegetables, and sauté the mixture for 5 minutes. Add 2 c. peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes, ½ teaspoon oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes.
Stir in 4 c. brown stock or beef broth, 2 c. water, and 1 c. lentils, rinsed and picked over, and simmer the soup, covered, for 1 hour, or until the lentils are very soft.
Swirl in 2 Tablespoons softened butter and sprinkle the soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.