So my mission all this week is stretching everything I have in my pantry. A long time friend saw a picture I posted about lentil soup. They stated they liked “red lentil”. I really could not recall having red lentil before so I was looking forward to trying it out one day.
On one of my journeys for Little Cupcake juice & milk at trader joes I saw a bag of red lentil beans. For $1.79 I figured it was worth the cost. I had planned on making a gluten free quiche with kale, ham & butternut squash that day. So as I’m looking in my basket I decided I would make a lentil soup using some kale. I wanted to originally make a copy cat recipe for Olive Gardens Sausage Kale soup. But the potatoes at Trader Joes were to expensive for such a small bag of potatoes. So I picked up the butternut squash for a quiche and a soup. Yeah, strange logic!
Thankfully my butternut squash was huge and cost oddly $1.79 and bag of Kale also cost $1.79. So for under $6.00 I was able to create 3 separate meals. I bought a smoked ham last week for $.99lb, cost me $9.00. I had so much ham leftover I even gave some to my Mama Bear & Papa Bear and I still had more leftover. So I have been trying to create some meals with all that ham. I used it for a quiche, lentil soup, sandwiches and breakfast.
Normally I would make homemade chicken stock but I got lazy and was focusing on bread making. But I had saved all the chicken liquid after I roasted my chicken. I call it “yellow gold”, it’s basically a chicken base. Please do not throw away that liquid gold! If you roast your chicken or even buy a rotisserie chicken pour that liquid into a jar or container and store in refrigerator or freeze it in a freezer ziplock bag.
This is what “yellow gold” or chicken base looks like after refrigerated.
The top layer is a oil or grease. I use this instead of olive oil or any oil when Im sautéing or when I make my Creamy Stove Top Mac & Cheese and want to add another level of flavor, it saves lots of effort and the flavor it adds is spectacular! I scrap off a little from the top and place in the pan, it melts like butter (prob bc it has butter in it when I roast my chicken)
Then there is the bottom level of the “yellow gold”. It’s a gelatin base that I use for soups. Adds great flavor to water. So when I haven’t taken the time to make my own stock and only have water, that’s when I use the gelatin part of “yellow gold”.
It melts into soup.
So this is really the secret to my soup. You can use store bought or make your own stock. The flavor of the soup will change. The flavors of the “yellow gold” are very intense which creates so much more depth of flavor in my opinion.
This soup can be vegetarian just use vegetable broth (make your own if you have the time). And just remove the ham.
I use dry vermouth any time I want to add a “wine” flavor. It’s a cheap option and bottle only cost $5 and last forever. I learned that from Rachel Ray, it’s a great tip! If you have a good white drinking wine you can use that too. Of course it adds to the extra cost of the soup. Why I use vermouth. Hey, it’s not just for martinis!
Red Split Lentil with Ham & Kale Soup Recipe
1/2 cup of red lentils
1/2 cup diced/cubed ham
3 cups of water (or stock)
2-3 diced carrots (depends on size of carrots)
1 celery stick
1 small onion (or half large onion)
1 tBs Chicken Grease (or 1tSp olive oil)
1/3-1/2 cup of chicken gelatin (or chicken base. If using stock you can skip this step. However if you have it adds great flavor)
1/2 tSp cumin powder
1/4 tSp dried thyme
1/4 tSp garlic powder (or use 1 clove of fresh)
1/2 tSp of smoked paprika (smoked is very important)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 tSp red pepper flakes (optional)
Dash of nutmeg (1/8 tSp)
2 tBs of dry vermouth or white wine
Pre-heat cooking pot on a medium high heat. Add chicken grease and diced carrots, celery & onion. Stir and sauté until onions translucent. Don’t burn onions so if need turn stove top down to medium heat.
Add seasonings, cumin, smoked paprika, thyme, garlic powder, nutmeg, salt & pepper (and pepper flakes if using). Let sauté for a couple minutes. Then add vermouth or wine.
Once vermouth as evaporated add lentils.
Stir together until coated. Then add chicken gelatin and allow to melt. Then add water. If not using gelatin just add stock.
Let come to simmer then add diced ham.
Let simmer on a low medium heat for 20-30 min or until lentils have dissolved. Lentil will look like mashed potatoes. You will need to stir periodically while cooking to break up lentils. You could even use a whisk to mix.
While waiting, prep kale. To prepare kale remove leaf from stem. You dont want to use the stem because its very woody. (Only time I use is if I’m cooking kale as a side dish) Then add kale and stir into soup. Wait about 5 min for kale to soften.
Your soup is now ready to serve!! I serve soup with my Dinner Rolls