Leftover Ham? No Problem!

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Our family likes, no requires, ham for our Christmas and Easter dinner celebrations. I am fine with that, a precooked ham that only needs minimal heating is a pretty easy meal prep and it allows me to focus more attention on sides and baking desserts!

The problem comes days later, when everyone is tired of having ham sandwiches to use up the leftovers. I have made several versions of this ham and lentil soup. I posted one version last year that incorporated corn, which gave the dish a nice sweet flavor. But this year I decided to tryout some thick cut bacon and dill. The result: Wow! This is a keeper 🙂

I started by baking 3 strips of thick cut bacon in a 400°F oven, on a small baking sheet.

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When the bacon was nice and crispy it was drained, chopped and set aside for later.

While the bacon cooked, I added 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and heated that in a dutch oven. I then add a medium, diced onion and one leek, also diced. Why a leek and not celery? Because I detest celery! I know, who doesn’t like celery? Me, and I am doing the cooking so….

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the onion and leek are cooked until it begins to brown

Next into the pot went the carrots, potatoes and dill

Water, salt and pepper were added. The pot was covered, and the vegetables cooked until tender.

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The rest of the liquid, lentils and cooked ham were added and cooked until the lentils were tender.

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When the lentils were ready it was just a matter of stirring in the final ingredients and heating through. The peas, bacon and yogurt went into the pot. The yogurt acts as a thickener and makes the soup creamy.

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Next a big bowl and spoon are needed. I garnished with a little bacon and dill that I had reserved, and voila!

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This version is a keeper! If you try it let me know what you think. I am always looking for a way to improve on this 🙂

 

Ham, Lentil and Dill Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Bacon and dill add a unique twist on this hearty soup with a complex flavor that only gets better with time.

Credit: invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-2-4 slices of thick cut bacon

-1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

-1 Medium yellow onion, small dice

-1 Leek, chopped

-3 Tablespoons dill, chopped

-1 pound carrots, small dice

-1 pound yukon gold potatoes, small dice

-1/2 cup water

-1 teaspoon kosher salt

-1/2 teaspoon black pepper

-4 cups low sodium chicken broth

-1 and 1/2 cups water

-1 cup dried lentils

-~10 ounces of cooked ham, small dice

-1 cup frozen peas

-3 Tablespoon plain yogurt ( I prefer Greek yogurt)

 

Directions

  1. Place the bacon strips on a sheet pan and bake in a preheated oven set at  400°F until crisp. Approximately 12-15 minutes. Drain, chop and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and leek; cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, potatoes, dill, 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups water, the lentils and ham; cover and bring to a simmer. Uncover and cook until the potatoes are tender and the lentils begin to fall apart, 12 to 15 more minutes.
  5. Stir in the peas, yogurt and diced bacon. Ladle the soup into bowls.
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Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

I have been battling a cold for a few days now, and the weather here has been non-stop rain. At least it hasn’t been too cold to run, just trying to get in a work out between rain showers has been tricky. So, between my cold and the rain I have been yearning for some good comfort food. When I saw this recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod I knew I had to make it. I love their blog, if you haven’t checked it out you really should! I didn’t stray too far from their vegan recipe, but I did not have vegetable broth and used chicken broth instead, I used cashew milk instead of almond and I did feel the need to add a little balsamic vinegar to round out the flavor. It is a keeper!

I started with the classic mirepoix of onion, celery and carrots, diced and heated in a large dutch oven with olive oil. Minced garlic, bay leaves and tomato paste were added after the veggies had softened.

The crushed tomatoes, roasted red peppers, broth, sugar, dried thyme and red pepper flakes were added and the mixture simmered for another 15-20 minutes.

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The milk and basil were incorporated 

Now it was time to break out my immersion blender.

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And that was it! The soup was ready for the bowl. But I wanted comfort food remember? I went back to the Dutch Oven Bread that I made the day before. There was not a lot left but a couple slices would work. I spread them with some pesto and added thinly sliced apples, cheddar, ham, grated gruyere and popped them under the broiler while the soup bubbled away.

This was the meal my cold wanted and my soul needed, and it came together in about 30 minutes!

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I garnished with some candied seeds 

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If it is still winter at your house, I strongly recommend this recipe! Enjoy!

French- Irish Beef Stew

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Our family loves a good beef stew, especially now that the cold weather has hit hard. I love making one big pot that will feed the family for a few days and this beef stew fills both bills nicely. The reason I call it French-Irish is because we really like elements from both types of these dishes. Beef bourgeon by itself has a fantastic depth of flavor that I really appreciate with a richness that we find a little overwhelming at times. From the French side, I prefer to sear the beef without dredging in flour and instead use a beurre manié to thicken the broth. Flaming the cognac with the vegetables adds another layer of flavor that marries well with the mushrooms that are sautéed in butter and added at the end. But we like Irish stew too with its chunky vegetables, potatoes and savory Worcestershire sauce. I have spent a considerable amount of time merging the elements from both to create a hybrid of sorts. It combines all the flavor we long for from the traditional rich, French recipe, but with the earthy goodness of an Irish dish.

The recipe starts with marinating the beef in the bottle of wine, garlic and bay leaves. The red wine imparts a beautiful mahogany hue to the meat.

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The next step is to brown the bacon, I like mine nice and crispy. I use an 8 1/2 quart Dutch oven that has a large surface area that facilitates the browning and searing process.fi-bacon

While the bacon is cooking, I begin the process of drying all the beef so it will sear properly. Remember to keep the marinade! Don’t throw it away, it is important later on.

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While the beef is searing in several batches, I prep the vegetables and garlic for their turn in the pan.

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The beef is then removed to rest with the bacon for later, and the vegetables go into the pan until browned. I like a lot of caramelization on both my meat and vegetables, so I spend the time needed to get the color I want.

Now is the time for the cognac. If you are not comfortable with this step then it is not necessary. I have been out of cognac and skipped this step in the past and the stew is still great. But, I would encourage you to try it at least once to judge for yourself. It really does add a wonderful flavor and the flame kiss on the vegetables is hard to get from searing alone. If you are worried, turn off the heat then add the cognac and stand back during the ignition. Once lit remember to turn the heat back on! I have made that mistake before.

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Once the flames die down, it is time to deglaze with the reserved marinade. The recipe calls for 2 ½ cups, which is just about all of the marinade. Scrape up any brown bits (known as “fond”) over high heat. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Add in the reserve bacon and seared beef and bring to a boil. Lower the temp to a simmer, cover and put into the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until all vegetables are fork tender.

While the stew is in the oven, prepare the beurre manié and the sautéed mushrooms.

Combine 2 T of the butter with the flour to make a paste. You will be able to add as much or as little as you like to thicken your sauce to your liking.

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Use the remaining 2 T of butter to sauté the mushrooms and set aside.

When the stew is ready place it on the stovetop and add the beurre manié, sautéed mushrooms and peas. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer for ~15 min.

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I like to serve this with rolls brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with thyme and fleur de sel.

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I hope you give this one a try and please let me know what you think! Every recipe can be improved upon and I would love your feedback!

Ingredients:

2 ½ lbs good quality chuck beef, cut into cubes (~ 1 ½ inches)

1 750ml bottle of red wine

3 whole garlic cloves, smashed

3 bay leaves

1 T olive oil

8 oz. apple wood smoked bacon, diced

2 yellow onions, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch cubes

1 lb. small Yukon gold potatoes, halved or quartered

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ c. cognac, if using

2 ½ c. reserve marinade

2 c. beef broth

1 T tomato paste

2 T Worcestershire sauce

1 t. fresh thyme leaves (or ½ t dried thyme leaves)

1 T kosher salt

2 t. fresh ground pepper

4 T room temperature unsalted butter, divided

3 T all purpose flour

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced

1 10oz. package of frozen peas

Directions:

Place the beef in a large bowl and cover with the bottle of red wine. Add the garlic and bay leaves and cover the bowl. Refrigerate over night.

The next day, preheat the oven at 250° F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon and reserve for later.

Remove the beef from the marinade (save the marinade!) and pat dry completely. Add salt and pepper to taste and sear the beef in the bacon fat in small batches. Do not crowd the pan, take your time and sear all the sides. Remove the beef and store it with the bacon for later.

Add the onions, carrots and potatoes to the pot and allow to brown for 15 to 20 minutes, or until your desired doneness. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the cognac, if using, carefully stand back and ignite. Allow the alcohol to burn off. When the flames die down deglaze the pan with 2 ½ cups of the reserved marinade. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the reserved beef and bacon, and any accumulated juices from the pan into the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover and put into the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the vegetables are fork tender.

When the stew is done in the oven place on the stove over medium heat. Combine 2 T of butter with the flour to make a paste. Add the beurre manié in small batches by stirring into the stew, it will begin to thicken immediately. Sauté the mushrooms in the remaining 2T of butter. Add the mushrooms and peas to the stew and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Season to taste.