Lentils and Ham

One of the reasons we love serving ham for Easter is the leftover ham, especially the ham bone. That bone can be used to make a flavorful stock for split pea or white bean soup, helping to stretch out that ham for days. Another great pairing with ham is lentils. Make an easy ham broth with the bone, cook the lentils in it, and serve with some leftover ham slices. Inexpensive, easy, and satisfying.

Ham is so strongly flavored that you can make the broth in as little as an hour, or you can simmer it all day if you want. The cooking time for the lentils will depend on what kind you use. Always use dark lentils—green, black or brown—for this recipe. Light colored lentils are usually split and will turn to mush instantly. The darker ones will hold their shape better. We like them a little on the firm side, but if you prefer them more tender, just cook them longer.

Lentils and Ham Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8.

Any leftover ham will do here, or you could use a smoked ham shank or ham hock in its place. Slices of thick-cut bacon are a good substitute for the slices of leftover ham.

Ingredients

Ham Stock

  • Ham bone, and stray bits of leftover ham
  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

Lentils

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 pound green, black or brown lentils, about 2 cups (we used French green lentils which cook up a little on the firm side)
  • 5 cups ham broth
  • Salt
  • Slices of leftover ham

Method

1 First make the ham stock. Put the ham bone and any stray bits of ham into a large, thick-bottomed pot and cover with the water. Add the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 30 minutes. Add the remaining ham stock ingredients and simmer for at least another 30 minutes, preferably another hour. Strain the ham stock through a fine-meshed sieve and set in a large bowl. Taste and add salt if needed.

2 Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Don't let the onions brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add the lentils and stir to combine. Cook the lentils, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

3 Add 5 cups of ham stock and bring to a simmer. Cook very gently, you want the broth to barely be bubbling, until the lentils are done. That could be as little as 20 minutes, or as long as 1 hour, depending on how old your lentils are. Expect about 35 minutes. Check and taste the lentils from time to time while they cook. You don't want them to be mushy. When they are done, strain them from the stock (reserve the stock to make soup like split pea soup or ham and white bean soup, or just another batch of these lentils) in a fine meshed sieve.

Toss with a little more olive oil and serve with chopped pieces or slices of leftover ham. Serve either hot or at room temperature.

Links:
Ham and Lentil Soup - from Andrea Meyers
Colombian Lentils and Pork Stew - from My Colombian Recipes
Cured Pork Shoulder and Lentils - from Chocolate and Zucchini

8 Comments

  1. Mary

    Mmm! Good idea with leftover ham! When I usually make lentils, I throw some bacon in it. I don’t know what cultural influence it was, but my friend’s filipino mom used to serve it with a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and accompanied it with rice. It was delish!

  2. Bethany

    This looks so simple and delicious. It makes me regret not taking the ham bones home from a friend’s dinner party! I’ll have to try it with the shoulder bones next time I make pulled pork.

  3. Maryfe

    I wish I have put off cooking the lentils yesterday to today. It did not dawn on me to make lentils with ham, which i have plenty in the fridge from easter. I cooked the lentils yesterday with eggplant. It was good but this recipe could have rid our fridge with the ham :)

  4. kathy

    Lentil soup with ham is my 2nd favorite breakfast. I also add rice (any kind, but the short sweet brown rice is great) or barley, which is my favorite for it’s thickening powers.

  5. Ruth

    This looks gorgeous – and I agree – nothing better than leftover ham. We do ham at christmas because my hubby is Swedish. The leftovers are the BEST!

  6. mary lynn

    I brought back some hambone/bits from a Smithfield ham from a recent trip to D.C.

    I had planned Ham and Beans but am changing to this lentil soup. It’s just Spring-ier. I think I will roast some fennel and do a spoon bread to go with it.

    Thanks so much

  7. Mary

    I think the saltiness of the ham really compliments the lentils. Yum
    Mary

  8. Tina

    This sounded so good, but I don’t eat pork. So today I made a variant with chopped up turkey bacon and turkey dogs. Added some diced beets too. YUM! Thanks for the great idea.

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