Caribbean Smoked Ham and Red Lentil Soup
This recipe calls for ham stock, preferably made from boiling a ham hock. If this isn’t possible, you can either add a ham bone to the soup while cooking, add a 100g piece of uncooked smoked ham to the pot and shred at the end, or even just fry some lardons of bacon along with the vegetables at the start.
Please take note of the advice about bagging up the Scotch bonnet pepper. I once served this soup to a spice-phobic septuagenarian who ended with a whole mouthful of disintegrating hot pepper and was very upset.
I often serve this soup with a large dollop of mango chutney stirred in, to achieve a nice contrast of sweet and salty.
|2 tbsp||vegetable oil|
|1||large onion, finely diced|
|2||carrots, finely diced|
|2||celery sticks, finely diced|
|½||butternut squash, finely diced|
|1||red pepper, finely diced|
|250g||red lentils, well rinsed|
|1 tsp||allspice berries|
|1||Scotch bonnet pepper, left whole but pricked with a knife tip|
|1 l||smoked ham stock or water|
|Salt and freshly ground pepper|
You will need a pressure cooker.
Heat the oil in the base of the pressure cooker and add all the vegetables. Sauté for a few minutes until the vegetables start to take on a little colour, then add the lentils.
Make a bouquet garni with the thyme, bay leaves, allspice and Scotch bonnet pepper. (This is most easily done by placing them all in a square piece of muslin and tying it up with string. But you can skip this step if you don’t mind fishing out the aromatics individually after cooking.) Add this to the pressure cooker and pour in the stock or water. Do not add salt at this point - smoked ham is quite salty.
Close the lid and bring up to full pressure. Cook for 5 minutes then allow the pressure to release naturally. Stir the soup briskly as some of the lentils will be floating on top, then check for seasoning. Leave the bouquet garni in the soup until you are ready to serve.