Last week was a whirlwind – I started the Bar Method 60-day challenge (more to come about my progress on that soon!) and with busy days at work, as well as at home, I was physically beat each evening. In a good way 🙂
It’s times like these that the slow cooker is my best friend!
I had a leftover small portion of the ham bone from Easter and decided that it was a good week for a nice pot of soup. I also happened to have some lentils in the cupboard that I have been wanting to use. So, instead of a split pea soup which I would normally make with a ham bone, I thought I would try a lentil version of my ham soup this time.
What a comfort to come home to a steaming hot bowl of soup in the evening after a long, busy day – just load up the slow cooker in the morning before heading off, and by the time you get home from work the cooking is done for you. Less time spent preparing a meal and more time to sit down and enjoy dinner with the family.
Speaking of family, I started this post yesterday morning. Last night I was greeted at the door by my husband with some very sad news. My grandmother, who would have turned 89 this Saturday, had passed away in her sleep the night before.
I had not spent much time with her in the last couple of years, but for several years I worked just down the street from her home so I would regularly go and have lunch with her. She would prepare a nice table and we would sit and visit – she had the most amazing stories to tell about her life and all of the people she had known over the years.
What a gift I had in those lunch hours. I knew that at the time and feel it even more keenly today.
In recent years she grew increasingly fuzzy and would sometimes forget that I was even coming to see her. As I moved on to another job, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was moved (at least an hour away) into a very nice senior home where someone could always be available to keep an eye on her.
I so missed her and our lunches.
I never knew what kind of sandwiches Grandma Nina would serve – sometimes it was turkey, sometimes ham, many times it would be liverwurst (never forgetting the bread and butter pickles that are so popular with her age group.)
But she always had soup.
I think of her as I post this recipe. Sharing a big bowl of soup can warm the heart as well as the body. A wonderful way to gather those you love closer around the table and just be together – talking, sharing memories, sometimes crying, mostly laughing and loving each other – while you can.
Slow-Cooker Ham & Lentil Soup
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1-1/2 cups white lentils
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
- 2 Bay leaves
- Fresh ground pepper
- Salt to taste
- 2 Roma tomatoes cut in half
- Ham bone (you could also use a big chunk of boneless ham)
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 bag spinach – rough chopped
- Sour cream
- Crunchy bread & salted butter
Place in crock pot carrots, onion, celery, garlic, lentils, bay leaves, herbs, ham, tomatoes and ground pepper.
Pour water over these ingredients and cook in slow cooker 10-12 hours on low.
Pull out ham bone and set aside to cool. Remove tomato skins (which have come off the tomatoes during cooking,) bay leaves and any ham fat, rind, or bone pieces and discard.
Use the back of a wooden spoon to break up any tomato pieces in the pot that are still whole.
Once cooled so that you can handle, separate meat from the bone and add the meat back into pot. Add spinach and chicken stock as needed (to thin out the broth) and cook for 1/2 hour more. Salt to taste.
Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and crunchy bread with butter.
What is your favorite memory of sharing a meal around the table with your family?
What do you serve to bring everyone together?