Spinach and Lentil Soup (aka Prosperity Soup) [Dairy-Free]

Welcome 2014!

Spinach and Lentil Soup | EmmaEats

Many cultures have foods that are traditionally consumed at the start of a New Year – ones thought to bring about good health, progress, prosperity and good luck. The long strings of sauerkraut are considered to represent a long life, as are long noodles. Ring-shaped foods represent wholeness. Beans, legumes and lentils are thought to resemble coins and therefore eating them for New Year’s predicts prosperity for the coming year. Eating pork is also considered good fortune.

If there are any truths to these beliefs, then this soup is the soup to eat on New Year’s. Filled with smoked pork, lentils and spinach, it’s a warm, cozy, comforting dish sure to bring lots of luck and prosperity. And if it doesn’t, it is a healthy, high-fibre alternative to the rich extravagances of the holiday season.

Every New Year’s Day, I put a pot of this together in the morning and it simmers away on the stove, ready to eat, all day. It warms the house, smells divine and feeds us well. This year, it wasn’t just G and I that enjoyed the soup. The girls gobbled it up — even Emma, who has often expressed her distaste for lentils. It’s perfect for New Year’s as well as any cold winter day warranting a pick-me-up. Sounds like an ideal prosperous start to the New Year indeed.

Spinach and Lentil Soup [Dairy-Free]

(serves 6)

  • a few glugs of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium leek, light green and white parts only, slice thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large smoked pork (ham) hock, cut in half by the butcher)
  • 7-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 1-2 cups frozen chopped spinach

Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a large pot. Fry the carrots, leeks and garlic until softened. Add the split pork hock, chicken broth, thyme and black pepper. Bring to a boil, covered, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 1 hour.

After about an hour, remove the pork hocks and pull the meat from the bone. Break or cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Return the meat to the pot and stir in the lentils.  Simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the lentils start to break down. Add spinach and cook until it is heated through. Serve hot.

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