There is much more than Lentils and Chicken in this fabulous soup. This recipe is adapted from my Grandmother's own Rolodex of recipes. I've been making my own version now for years. I changed a few steps (such as making my own stock, the use of tasso ham and a few other things) but all in all, the flavors are the same (just improved). From start to finish, this recipe will take you all day to make. You can make your stock ahead of time, as many of us often do, and that will make this soup come together quickly on the day you want to eat it. —Benny
Large Onion, Quartered
half of a lemon
Fresh Parsley, with stems (separated)
Whole Black Peppercorns
Tasso Ham, diced
Large Carrots, Diced
Large Ribs Celery, Chopped
Large Russet Potatoes, Diced
16 oz can Whole Tomatoes in sauce, chopped
lentils, rinsed and picked over
Fresh Kale and/or Swiss Chard, stems removed, Chopped
Remove the Breasts from your Whole chicken and Reserve for another use. Next, remove the leg and thigh portions. Using a "junk knife" cut the body of the chicken into three smaller pieces.
In a stock pot, place the chicken body, the leg and thigh pieces and the ham bone. fill the pot with water to rinse the meat and bones, drain then fill with water again, ensuring there is at least 1 inch of water above the meat and bones. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. For the next 20 minutes, use a spoon to skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Add the lemon half, onion, thyme, bay leaves, parsley stems and peppercorns to the stock pot and continue to simmer, gently, for as long as you can (at least 4 hours). Add extra water as it evaporates to maintain a 1 inch covering over the bones.
When the Stock has finished simmering, strain the liquid and set the solids aside to cool. In a new pot over medium low heat, add vegetable oil and tasso ham. Cook for 2 minutes, occasionally stirring to render fat and juice from the ham. Increase the flame to medium high and add the carrots and celery. Sweat the vegetables for 3 minutes, then add the stock. Add the potatoes, tomatoes with their sauce, the barley and the lentils to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until the barley and lentils are tender.
With clean hands, remove all chicken and ham meat from the reserved stock bones. Add them to the soup.Roughly chop the parsley leaves and the Kale (and/or swiss chard) and add them to the soup. Season with Salt and Pepper to your liking. If the soup is too thick, add water.