Ahhh, Southern California weather... it's now definitively fall, and yet the days can still hit 80. The nights are consistently cool though, and our house tends to hang onto that chill so it doesn't feel totally inappropriate to eat autumn food even if I'm still in a tank top.
The Irish Boxer Husband is on paternity leave and I work from home, so we're both in the house nowadays. Which means lunchtime has become a bit of a challenge. When it's just me, I just scrounge around in the fridge or just skip it altogether, but when it's both of us, two hungry people in the house = BAD idea. We do really well putting together complete breakfasts and nutritious dinners, but lunch always seems to get forgotten once the Monkey's lunchbox has been packed.
Today, I was determined not to let that happen! so made this soup. Literally had all the ingredients for it already, but feel free to take liberties and throw in a bit more of this or less of that, depending on what you've got. Didn't take too long and is so good, I might have to plant more kale...
Lentil kale AKA clean-out-the-cupboard soup
1 smoked ham hock (was buried in the back of the freezer for AGES)
1 pound of red lentils
1 pound of carrots
6 stalks of celery
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of kale
1 cup of rice, cooked (totally optional. But again. I had it. Throw it in!)
2 bay leaves
Handful of Italian parsley
Salt & pepper
Boil the ham hock in 12 cups of water for about an hour, or until it's almost falling apart and the water has become milky in color.
Stir in the lentils and bay leaves and simmer gently until almost to your desired tenderness (I like mine practically mush, so gave it nearly an hour).
Chop up the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Add to the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes or so.
Pull out the ham hock and let it cool.
Lastly, roughly chop the kale and add it to the pot. If using some leftover rice, throw that in there too. And the thyme. And whatever else you've got laying around. Beans? Potatoes? Corn? Hard to go wrong, really.
And by now your ham hock should be cool enough to handle, so shred any meat on there and throw that back into the pot too. I didn't throw the big chunks of fat back in. I guess you could. I won't tell...
Salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle chopped parsley on top, and feel that soup warm you up from the inside out.