Gypsy Ham & Lentil Stew
There is nothing like visiting someone else’s “hell” to remind you just how good your own life is. I visited a relative this weekend … and she seemed so unhappy with every aspect of her life. She and her husband are struggling with some financial issues … and she is just exhausted with all the things she has to take care of, tired and frustrated that her home is a constant mess.
The little children also can be a strain on your energy … I remember how stressed I was with two little ones, let alone four! I want to tell her to hang on, that things do get better. To show some kindness and understanding not just to the children, but to herself and her husband as well, who needs it more than she knows. I know how it feels to be exhausted day after day, trudging through life, caring through children and home and having no time for yourself, but it appears to me that her husband is also drearily trudging through life, trying to please her and finding only failure. I listen to how she talks to him and I fear I was probably much the same when I was married. Many years ago, I found myself suddenly alone when he could stand it no more, and now that I think back on it, I regret some of the nasty things I said, but there is no way to take them back. I see things now that I did not see back then. In a way, I want to tell her not to make the same mistakes I made, but I know she has her own path to tread. And my journey has not been so bad, really … to the contrary, though it was a painful change for all of us, I’ve become such a better person for it and my ex and I have a better friendship now, it seems, than we ever had back then. I see him a different, friendlier, and kinder light.
Today, all I have to worry about is my teenage daughter and my college-age son (who are still challenging, but still great kids and much easier than little ones!) and while she says she doesn’t have 5 minutes to make a homemade salad dressing, I find myself with time to ponder things like what to do with a ham bone. When you make a ham, do you treasure the ham bone? Oh I do! I can’t wait to make something with the ham bone, even more than I love the ham, I love the soup that comes after. That bone gives so much flavor to the soup, I could almost skip the ham dinner just to have the ham soup.
This is another version of my Gypsy Stew. I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed for that delightful Moroccan-seasoned stew, nor the patience to wait for chickpeas to cook, so with some of the “juice” from my precious ham bone, I whipped up a quick lentil soup with similar seasonings, sweet peppers and extra tomatoes. Just as delightful, this soup is thick and warm and comforting, with enticing spices and an intoxicating orange-red color. It’s just the kind of soup that helps remind me of all the things I love about my own life and the paths that led me to where I am now. Some of those paths were difficult to tread, but I appreciate them for the lessons that they taught me, perhaps even more than the moments I stood in the sunshine.
- 2 1/2 quarts water
- 1 ham bone
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- 2 - 4 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/2 red onion, peeled & chopped
- 3 mini sweet peppers, chopped
- 3/4 cup red lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pint fire roasted tomatoes or 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder (or cayenne)
- 1 cup chopped ham
- Put the ham bone in a soup pot with the water. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for about 2 hours. Use 1 quart of the "ham juice" for this soup. Save the rest for another soup.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan or frying pan, add the garlic, celery, and onion and saute until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chopped peppers and saute a few more minutes until the peppers are soft.
- Remove the ham bone and the excess "ham juice" from the soup pot. Pour the sauteed veggies into the soup pot along with the rest of the ingredients except the ham. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Add the ham and cook a little longer until the ham is warm.
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This recipe was shared at Munching Monday, Treasure Box Tuesday, Simple Supper Tuesday, Thursday Favorite Things, Freedom Fridays with All my Bloggy Friends, FoodieFriDIY, Foodie Friends Friday, Gluten Free Friday, Let’s Get Real, Project Parade and Hearth & Soul Bloghop.