It’s winter! Kind of, sort of. There is snow on the ground at 8600 ft. finally. It’s been cold. Finally. This morning, a frigid negative something. Soup is definitely in season now.
This recipe is adapted from one in Gourmet. The original called for a hunk of smoked pork butt. (Reminder: pork butt is not the posterior. The cut known as butt is the shoulder.) I couldn’t find any smoked butt so I used a hunk of smoked ham. You could use smoked ham hocks. The point is, you want something smoked and piggy. I enhanced the porky flavor further by using 1/2 water and 1/2 ham stock.
Lentil and Sauerkraut Soup
1 1/2 pounds smoked ham or 2 smoked ham hocks
7 cups ham stock (Penzeys sells a very good concentrate soup base)
7 cups water
1 pound lentils, rinsed
3 carrots, thinly sliced
4 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 cup drained sauerkraut, preferably the good deli stuff or homemade
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Combine ham, ham stock, water, lentils, carrot, celery, onion, and bay leaves in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and partially cover. Simmer for about 1 hour (an hour and a half at 8600 ft.) until lentils are tender. Remove pork and allow to cool 10 minutes. Cut into bite-sized pieces and return to soup. Add sauerkraut, vinegar, and black pepper. Taste for salt; the pork, stock, and the sauerkraut are salty so you may need very little. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves and serve with a rustic crusty bread.