This hearty soup full of tender vegetables, dainty French green lentils and smoky ham is everything you crave when cold winter weather has you seeking all things warm and cozy.
Place lentils in a large bowl and cover with boiling water by about 2 inches (the lentils will swell). Let soak for 15 minutes then drain.
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and sauté an additional 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover and let simmer for about 1 hour or until lentils are cooked through and tender. Check seasonings then add ham and vinegar and simmer until the ham is heated through. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan.
-French green lentils differ from ordinary green lentils (and other colored lentils) in their size and texture. French green lentils are a little smaller and they hold their shape whereas other varieties break down a bit and create a slightly thicker, almost creamy soup.
-I have made this soup using homemade chicken stock and store bought. The soup is good with store bought, it is excellent with homemade. If you have the time, it is worth making. You'll have plenty left over that you can freeze for other uses.
-Make this soup vegetarian by omitting the ham or sausage and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
***If you have a severe gluten allergy or sensitivity or otherwise are serious about eliminating gluten from your diet, always check your labels carefully and buy certified gluten free products