Pork Hock and Lentil Soup
The lentil is one of nature's smallest vitamin pills. It contains B group vitamins, thiamin, niacin and B6. It's also supercharged with minerals, potassium, magnesium and zinc. In this recipe the lentil is teamed with bacon hocks - or shanks - to make a robust, tasty and thoroughly nourishing soup. If the bacon has been salt cured and/or smoked, soak in water overnight before use. A little parsley and mint pesto is made up to accompany the soup.
1 bacon hock
1 Tbsp oil + 2 tsp oil (preferably strongly flavoured olive oil)
1 leek, washed and finely cut
2 medium carrots, finely diced
1 celeriac, peeled and finely diced or
2 Tbsp chopped celery stalk
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
200g red lentils, well washed and drained
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground fennel seed
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp finely chopped mint
1 litre chicken, veal or vegetable stock
50g grated parmesan cheese
Pepper to season
In a large stock pot or saucepan gently cook the carrot, leek, celeriac or celery, and garlic in 1 Tbsp oil for 3 or 4 minutes.
Add drained lentils and stir while continuing to cook for 30 seconds or so.
Add nutmeg and fennel and stir in.
Stir in about two thirds of each of the mint and parsley, reserving some of each for a pesto sauce to go with the soup.
Add the hock and stock, put on lid and allow the soup to simmer very slowly for at least 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, make up a pesto sauce by pounding in a mortar or blending remaining parsley and mint along with the parmesan cheese and 2 Tbsp oil until a smooth paste is achieved. Season with pepper.
When hock is cooked, remove from soup, take off skin and fat, and cut into small bite-sized pieces.
To serve, put soup and bacon pieces into individual dishes and top with a spoonful of the pesto sauce. Accompany with crusty bread.
Leftover potential: Keeps well for several days in the refrigerator.
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