A warming soup can help to relieve the cold and gloom of the long winter months. When you make Scottish lentil ham soup, you add a richness to the broth from the ham and nutrients from the lentils. Thick and fulfilling, this soup isn't time consuming or expensive to make. Once made, it's simple to put this Scottish comfort food into sealed plastic bags or bowls and freeze for later use.
Put the ham hocks in a large pan and cover with water. Cover and cook on high heat until boiling, and simmer for 1.5 hours. This will make the stock for the soup.
Peel and cut up into small chunks the onions, potatoes, carrots, celery and turnip. Also peel and cut the garlic into small pieces.
Add the butter to a skillet and melt it. Add all the cut-up vegetables and garlic to the skillet and fry until softened. Place the softened vegetables into another large pan.
Take out the ham hocks from the pan and put on a plate to cool. Put a strainer over the pan with the vegetables in it and strain six cups of the water the ham hocks were cooked in. Add the bay leaves and the lentils to the stock and vegetables.
Pull the meat from the ham hocks and put into the pan. You may need to cut up some of the meat if it's larger than you want. You can also add some bacon to the soup instead of ham hocks.
Bring the contents of the large pan to a boil, then let simmer for another 1.5 hours. Stir occasionally so the Scottish lentil ham soup doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. If it's not thick enough, take a cup of the broth and add a cup of flour and whisk until smooth and lump-free. Pour the thickening mixture back into the pan and stir until incorporated. Add black pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes more on medium-high heat to thicken and then serve.
Add mushrooms to give the broth an extra flavour dimension and texture.