In the Midwest there is no such thing as an endless summer. Each year in mid-September the night time temperatures start to drop into the low 50's and as the month progresses the days begin to get chilly as well. It's sad to see summer go, but it's also strangely refreshing to witness the change of seasons. The sunshine seems to look golden, the air is crisp, and the changing leaves give the eye a break from the dried out colors of August. In the hot weather, we eat a lot of salads at our house. When it starts to get cool, everyone wants soup. This soup is so easy; no sauteing necessary - just throw everything into a soup pot and simmer until it's done. This recipe works with any legume but our favorites are brown lentils and dried split peas. Serve with some crusty bread and a small salad.
16 oz. legumes: lentils, peas, or dried beans
8 cups chicken broth
1 (8 oz.) package cubed ham
1/2 cup water
2 medium carrots
2 medium celery stalks
1 medium onion
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Peel and slice the carrots, dice the celery, and peel and dice the onion.
Put the carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, thyme, broth, and water into a soup pan.
Rinse, drain, and pick out anything that isn't whatever legume you have decided on.and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium low. Cook until the legume of choice is tender. It will be about 40 minutes if you are using brown lentils. If you are using split peas or dried mixed beans (the beans have to be soaked over night), it will take one hour and 15 minutes. For lentils like the red ones or Belugas, the time will be much shorter, about 20 minutes. Stir every so often, making sure it is not burning on the bottom. Add a bit more water if it gets too thick before legumes have a chance to get tender. Ladle into bowls.