Eating lentil soup on New Year’s Day has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember. My mother would prepare a big batch in the morning and keep it warm on top of the stove. The rest of us would snack on it all day long, hoping it will bring us good luck in the upcoming year. I remember my mother explaining how the dish symbolizes prosperity. A serving of these little bronze-colored legumes resemble a bowl full of miniature coins.
The earliest documented reference to lentil soup consumption in my family can be traced back to 1972. As an aspiring man of letters in the fourth grade, I penned a tribute to my father for Father’s Day. Among his noble attributes and benevolent ways, I cited his affinity for this dish.
Forty one years later, I am happy to report my father still likes lentil soup, and so do I.
Smoked Turkey Lentil Soup
This is one of the easiest dishes I know how to make. It only takes about 15 minutes of prep time and then about an hour of simmering in the pot. I used to make it with ham hocks, but found smoked turkey wings to be a better choice. They add just as much flavor to the dish but are much leaner and meatier. The smoked turkey parts will add a substantial amount of salt to this dish. Make sure you taste it before adding additional seasonings.
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable Oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 1, 16-ounce bag of dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 8 cups of chicken stock
- 1, smoked turkey wing or drumstick (the wing should be cut at the joints into three pieces)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a pot large enough to accommodate the lentils and turkey parts.
Add onion, sauté until translucent.
Add carrot and celery, sauté until tender but still crisp.
Add lentils. Stir until evenly coated with oil.
Add turkey parts, chicken stock, bay leaves and thyme, bring to a moderate simmer over low heat.
Skim off any impurities or froth that floats to the top. Discard impurities.
Continue to simmer for one hour.
Remove turkey parts and bay leaves from pot. Allow to cool.
Using an immersion blender, pulse lentils 3 or 4 times, being careful not to over process the soup base.
Note: The goal is to puree a just enough lentils to create a thick stock. The majority of lentils should still retain their shape.
Remove turkey meat from the bone. Cut meat in to medium dice. Discard bones.
Add turkey meat back into pot. Stir to combine. Return soup to a simmer.
Taste soup. Add salt and pepper as needed.