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32 before 32– Simple slow-cooking: Split Pea & Ham and Vegetarian Lentil Soup

With spring refusing to show up, my crock pot endeavors have continued to be all soup, all the time. I’ve been keeping up with my recipe-a-week goal, but since the last two weeks have been pretty hectic, I’ve gone back to some super-simple recipes.

I love split pea soup, and have always made it as a vegetarian soup. I wanted to try it out this time with some ham for extra flavor. I probably should have just used smoked hamhocks, but I went all out and got a big old smoked ham shank.
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This soup turned out so incredibly good. I generally followed the recipe on the split pea bag, and threw the ham shank in there. After the slow cooking, the meat fell off the bone. There were big chunks of salty ham throughout the soup, and the soup had a rich, salty flavor. Mr. Beez is not into split pea, but the ham appealed to him, and he specially requested I try my hand at making a ham and bean soup. That sounds good to me!

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This week I also went for a basic lentil soup. I included celery and carrots just because I happened to have them, but I almost always put kale in lentil soup.

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I had some crusty bread that ended up stale, so I tried my hand at homemade croutons. I had fresh parsley but not dried, so I figured I’d just throw fresh parsley in there. Next time, I wouldn’t bother with fresh parsley. Dried parsley would actually stick to the croutons, but the fresh parsley barely did. I drizzled the bread chunks with garlic powder and olive oil, baked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, and they came out quite nicely.

Homemade croutonsI’ve made lentil soup a million times before, and it usually turns out amazing. Unfortunately this time, I didn’t have a heavy enough hand with the seasoning. I only put one veggie bouillon cube in there and did not include tomatoes. The soup is pretty good, but doesn’t have the usual awesome flavor. It turned out OK but not great. I may strain some of the liquid, blend it with more spices and make a vegetarian pate with it.

Vegetarian Lentil Soup

I’ve got this week’s crock pot meal cooking right now, Rabbit Stew. I’ve never made rabbit before, but the butcher at Marty’s Market assured me that this recipe’s a good one. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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