Berghoff lentil soup

A friend in Chicago gave me a copy of the cookbook from this famous Chicago German restaurant, now closed. This recipe is from that book. I went straight to the soups.  I like lentils because unlike other dried beans, they don’t need to be soaked before cooking and they cook up fairly quickly. I halved the recipe because I am not feeding a crew of eight and I did want leftovers; just not that much. I used low fat turkey ham instead.

I also made my own chicken stock in a 3 quart saucepan using the bones from two chicken breasts, a two-inch piece of ginger, two chopped scallions, and 3 whole cloves of garlic. I cooked it for 1 1/2 hours on low heat, then strained the broth, discarding the solids. Then I set the pot aside. All this is prelude to

Berghoff lentil soup
2 teaspoons canola oil
¾ cup diced onion
2-4 teaspoons minced garlic
¾ cup diced celery
¾ cup diced carrots
4 cups chicken stock
¾-1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 large bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup diced ham (use turkey ham)
1 cup canned diced tomatoes in juice
3 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

In a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute. Add the celery and carrots and continue to sauté for 1 minute. [Cook’s tip: since I am already using the saucepan for the stock, I used a large skillet, like my 12 inch Calphalon Everyday skillet to sauté the vegetables]

Add the stock, lentils, bay leaves, and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer 1 ½ to 2 hours or until the lentils are tender. [Cook’s tip: Instead of adding the stock to the skillet, I added the vegetables to the stock in the saucepan]

Stir in the ham and tomato and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and adjust the seasonings; simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired.

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