I call this the ultimate ham soup because it was an easier title than Lentil/Barley/Brown Rice and Ham soup. Also, it really is the ultimate ham soup; it’s comforting, hearty, delicious and the perfect soup for a cool winter day. This meal has been apart of my moms winter meal repertoire for a long time but I have never made it myself until last weekend, and now I can guarantee I will make it at least once (but probably more) every winter. If we ever had leftover ham from Thanksgiving or other dinner, this was the go-to recipe. This has always been one of my dad’s favorite soups and whenever I eat it I am instantly taken back to being out in the snow or cold weather at home and coming inside to a hot bowl of this soup for lunch.
This soup takes a little bit to cook because all the grains need to cook, but it’s perfect to let simmer on the stove for awhile and bonus: this soup freezes exceptionally well. This recipe makes a very large pot so it’s perfect to eat half now and freeze the other half for later, or to make for a dinner with friends.
Here’s what you need:
Beef stock and beef broth, ham, onion, carrots, celery, diced tomatoes, Italian stewed tomatoes, lentils, barley, brown rice and Italian seasoning.
Of course, first things first, heat up some oil of your choice in a dutch oven (if you don’t have a dutch oven, just use a large skillet for the first steps then throw everything into a large soup pot) and add the diced onion. To speed up the process of softening the onions I added 1/4 cup of water (or even a little less). When the onions are done, dice up the celery and peel and chop the carrots, then add them to the onions. Cook these for about 10 minutes or until they begin getting soft, and a little color is always good too.
If you used a skillet, transfer the onions/carrots/celery to a large soup pot.
Add in 1 quart of beef stock, plus another 2 cups of beef broth. Adjust this to your preference, I always love extra broth/stock in all of my soups. Plus the lentils/barley/rice will soak up a lot of this, so I actually saved 2 cups of broth and added them towards the end.
Now for the tomatoes, I added in a 28oz can of diced tomatoes than another 28 oz of Italian stewed tomatoes. It was a little too much tomato, so I would say add in 28 oz of Italian stewed and then only 14 oz of diced tomatoes. Also, the Italian stewed tomatoes are large slices of tomato, so if you don’t like the large chunks I would chop them up a bit before adding them to your pot.
So add in a total of 42oz of tomatoes, 1/2 cup each of the barley, lentils and brown rice. Add in the diced ham, about 2 cups, then the Italian herbs.
Give the soup a good stir, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low or medium-low and simmer covered for an hour. I would recommend giving it a good stir after 30 minutes and then at 45 minutes I would check the grains to see how they’re coming along and add another 2 cups of beef broth if necessary.
Yum!! Be sure to test a little of the broth to make sure it’s where you want it – add more seasonings if necessary. I wasn’t ready to use the bone of the ham yet when I made this soup, but if you want to use the bone to make the broth, substitute the cans of broth for water (still use 1 quart of the beef stock) and add in the whole bone when the lentils and barley are added. Let the bone cook in the soup and simmer, then remove before serving.
Dish some soup up and eat it along with a scone, some bread or a few crackers. This soup will last well in the fridge for about 5 days, and then like I mentioned above, it does well if you freeze it.
Let the soup cool completely before pouring it in freezer bags, lay flat in the freezer. Eat within 2-3 months.