Substantial lentil and ham shank soup is ideal as a starter for you meal. It can also make for a filling, standalone dinner when paired with crusty bread. Ham shanks can either be left over from last night's dinner or bought from a local butcher or supermarket meat counter. The broth-based soup loaded with vegetables is not only tasty, but it's also a nutritious meal.
Trim the excess fat from the ham shank. Combine the ham shank and lentils with 1.25 litres (5 cups) of cold water in a large pan and bring this to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer while covered for one hour. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet. Add the celery, leek, onion, and garlic and saute this for five minutes.
Add the sauteed vegetables, salt, thyme, and pepper, along with 500 ml (2 cups) of water, to the ham shank and lentils. Simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, for about 30 minutes. Remove the ham from the soup and cool. Cut the ham from the bone and dice.
Mash the vegetables with a potato masher in a pan but leave some lentils whole. Add the diced ham to the soup and simmer, covered, for 30 more minutes.
Serve the soup in bowls topped with sour cream and parsley. This recipe makes eight servings.
Adding greens like chard, kale and spinach can add colour and texture to a lentil soup.