Ham, lentil and vegetable soup

Healthy winter soup ideas from chef Dominique Rizzo

Adding a bit of curly-tailed meat to this dish is a great way to enjoy a full-flavoured soup. (It’s a great source of protein.) Combined with the vegetables, lentils and tomatoes, this soup is “low in fat, high in protein and extremely versatile”, says Dominique Rizzo, author of cookbook My Taste of Sicily.

It can also help to keep blood sugar on the level. “The lentils can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy; they can also increase your energy by replenishing your iron stores,” Rizzo says.

According to the pure food lover, this is why lentils have become the cool kid of the nutrition gang. “Their health benefits are why they have become so popular for anyone wanting to watch their weight, vegetarians and pregnant women.”

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

For the stock

  • 1 ham bone
  • 2 roughly diced onions
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns
  • 1 carrot roughly diced

For the soup base

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups of diced ham extra (optional)
  • 1/2 red capsicum, diced
  • 1/2 bunch silverbeet, stalks trimmed and diced and leaves chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup red lentils (optional)
  • Good pinch mixed herbs
  • Ham stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley to finish

Place the ham bone, onion, celery, carrot and peppercorns into a pot together and cover with water making sure that the bone is covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce the stock to a simmer and simmer for two hours or until the meat starts to fall off the bone. Allow the stock to cool slightly before straining out the vegetables.

Remove all the meat from the bone and set aside with the broth for the soup. Pour the oil into the same pot and sweat off the onions and extra ham for three minutes. Add in the capsicum and silverbeet stalks and stir again until softened.

Add in the garlic and the tomatoes and pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add in the lentils, herbs and the chopped silverbeet and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes until the lentils have softened. Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with parsley.

KJ: 879; FAT: 9.3g; CARB: 3.6g; PROTEIN: 26.7g

Recipe from My Taste of Sicily by Dominique, $39.95, Penguin.


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