Lentils have been saddled with a bum rap. Even before the King James Bible told us that Esau sold his birthright for a “pottage of lentiles” (lentil soup), people have been using the story as an example of selling something of great value for little or nothing.
Lentils do not deserve this. The story does not suggest that lentil soup was worthless, just that Esau should not have paid his brother Jacob for it with his birthright. In fact, the story tells us that Esau was faint with hunger and was revived by eating lentil soup and bread. Lentil soup is good for you.
Lentils are a better source of protein than their cousins, green peas and beans. Lentils are also a good source of iron, dietary fiber, vitamin B1 and several minerals. Health magazine chose lentils as one of the five healthiest foods. Plus, lentils taste good. What more could you want?
Mom made lentil soup when we grew tired of soups made with green or yellow split peas, but this hearty soup recipe was inspired by one from the Big Oven iPad app. Served with good bread, it makes a great cold-weather lunch or light supper.
1 smoked pork hock
4 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups dried lentils
2 to 3 cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
3 large carrots
2 large or 3 smaller ribs celery sliced
2 or 3 green onions chopped
1/3 tsp. salt
1/3 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. pepper
12 oz bulk pork sausage
2 T chopped fresh parsley
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, bring the pork hock and water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered. Clean and chop the vegetables while the broth is simmering. After 1 1/2 or 2 hours, when the meat should be coming off the bone, remove the hock and allow it to cool.
Rinse the lentils, removing any foreign material you find and add the lentils, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions and seasonings to the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are tender.
While the vegetables are cooking, remove the meat from the hock. Discard the skin and fat and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces. Fry the sausage over low heat until it is cooked. Drain any extra grease from the sausage and add the smoked meat and sausage to the broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Clean and chop the parsley and add it to the soup a few minutes before serving. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
NOTE: You can substitute a meaty ham bone or smoked sausage for the pork hock. And incidentally, the common phrase describing Esau’s selling his birthright is that he did it for a “mess of pottage” which means a serving or bowl of soup.