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An ingeniously simple but refined version of an old classic dish. You may use ham butt or salt pork or cubed ham instead of the ham hocks, but be careful to avoid too much salt. Serve with a hearty bread or corn bread. Adapted from "A Celebration of Soups" by Robert Ackart (1982).
- Make the bouquet garni by placing the herbs in a cheesecloth or a metal tea ball. Place in large stock pot.
- Add all ingredients in stock pot--water, vegetables, lentils.
- Simmer the soup for one hour, covered, or until the lentils are tender. Discard the bouquet garni.
- Remove the ham hocks. Cut the meat from them. Reserve. Discard bones.
- Optional: in the container of a food processor or large blender, whirl half of the soup until it is smooth, 2 cups at a time. Return to pot with other half of soup. Add meat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve.