I’m the guest who haunts the kitchen after holiday dinner, saying “Wait! Don’t throw those bones away. I’ll take them with me.” (Yes, I’m a big hit at parties.)
I only do this to family members. Now, when they see me come into the kitchen, they shake their heads and dig under the counter for the gallon ziploc bags. They’re family, so they have to invite me back, right?
Now, what do I do with those bones? In this case, I got a great hambone from my brother-in-law; I threw it in the freezer, saved it for a couple of weeks, then used it to make lentil and ham soup.
If there’s extra meat on the bone, I’m good to go; if not, I ask for a care package of leftover ham to dice and stir into the soup. (Which is a good idea in general, even with a meaty bone. But I’m usually pushing my luck asking for bones; I don’t want to get greedy.)
After that, soup is easy with my pressure cooker. Saute an onion and some garlic in the pot, then add the hambone, a pound of lentils, and water. When the beans are done, I pull out the bone, pick off the ham, and stir it back into the soup. Season to taste, add a splash of vinegar for a little acidity, and the soup is ready to serve.
No pressure cooker? No worries. See the notes section for stovetop instructions.
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Lentil and Hambone Soup
- 6 quart or larger Pressure Cooker (I use an Instant Pot electric PC)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Bone from 1 ham, with meat still attached
- 1 pound brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 8 cups water
- 1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Saute the aromatics; add beans, hambone, and water to the pot
Heat the vegetable oil in the pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic to the pressure cooker pot, and then sprinkle with the salt and red pepper flakes. Saute until the onion softens, about five minutes. Add the bone to the pot, then the lentils, and cover with the water. (It’s OK if the end of the bone pokes up out of the water.)
2. Pressure cook the soup
Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, bring the cooker to high pressure, and pressure cook for 12 minutes in a stovetop cooker, and 15 minutes in an electric pressure cooker. (On the Instant Pot, use the Manual setting, and set the cook time for 15 minutes.) When the cooking time is over, remove the pot from the heat and let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 minutes. (On the instant pot or other electric cookers, make sure to cancel the “keep warm” setting.) Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to avoid any hot steam.
3. Thicken, season, and serve
Fish the hambone out of the pot and set it aside until it is cool enough to handle. While the bone cools, scoop 2 cups of lentils and broth out of the cooker and puree them (I put them in a quart measuring cup and use my stick blender.) Pour the pureed lentils back into the pot. Pull the ham from the hambone, discard any pieces of fat or gristle, chop the ham into rough 1/4 inch cubes, and stir the ham into the pot. Add the sherry vinegar, then add salt and pepper until you just taste the salt on the tip of your tongue. (The soup will already be seasoned by the salty ham; I usually add a teaspoon of kosher salt to the pot.)
- No ham bone? Substitute 2 meaty ham hocks.
- No pressure cooker? No worries. Cook everything in a dutch oven with a lid. Follow the instructions until step 2. For step 2, cover the pot, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. Continue with step 3.
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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