I cooked a ham for Christmas dinner this year. When I cook ham, I usually buy a very small boneless ham because only two of us will eat it. This year I bought a bigger, semi-boneless ham. It was actually less expensive than a smaller ham, but now I have tons of leftover ham. I’ll freeze some and then get creative with the rest. This should be interesting. : )
Lentil Soup with Ham
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
8 cups chicken(or vegetable) broth
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup of ham, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the dried lentils and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the diced ham and zucchini and cook until the lentils have reached the desired level of tenderness, 10 to 20 minutes. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
I’m 45 years old and until recently have never really cooked green beans with bacon. I don’t generally think vegetables need meat (or extra fat) added to them, but maybe the years of living in the South have rubbed off on me because here I am adding bacon to my green beans and cooking them until they are super tender. They taste great this way and are a nice variation to the way I usually prepare green beans (toss them into some salted boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until they are crisp-tender).
Southern-Style Green Beans
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube (vegetable or chicken)
Cooked the chopped bacon in a pot until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside. Add the green beans, water, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and then cook for about 1 hour or until the green beans are very tender. Stir in the reserved bacon and serve.
Shown here: Southern-Style Green Beans alongside baked chicken and hashbrown casserole.
This is a riff on my Minestrone recipe. I bought some ravioletti (mini ravioli) on clearance at Aldi for 74¢ and thought it would be a nice, hearty substitution for pasta. I adore it. I have also made this soup using tortellini.
If you want a brothier soup, feel free to add some additional vegetable broth or water.
Minestrone Soup with Ravioletti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
8 cups vegetable stock
1 can (15.5 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 – 3 tsp. dried basil
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes and their juices
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 package ravioletti (mini ravioli), your choice of filling
salt and black pepper, to taste
Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they start to soften 3 to 4 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and cook until tender, another 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, sauté for a minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook yet another minute. Add veggie stock, kidney beans, basil, and diced tomatoes. Raise heat and bring the soup to a boil. Add the zucchini and ravioletti; return the soup to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until the zucchini and ravioletti are tender. Stir in the spinach and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Take off the heat and serve.