HEARTY LENTIL SOUP WITH HAM

2 T olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 C carrots, peeled and chopped round

1 C chopped celery

salt to taste

ground pepper to taste

1 (14 1/2 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

1 package (16 oz.) lentils, picked and rinsed, I use Goya brand

6 cups water

1/2 slice of Smithfield Center Sliced Ham  (freeze the other half

Rinse and pick over lentils.  Fry onions in large dutch oven in olive oil until translucent, add carrots, celery, diced tomatoes with the juices, and cut up ham.

Add water, do not add salt until the lentils are cook because the salt will toughen them if added at the beginning of the cooking time.  Bring water to a boil and add the lentils.  Boil for 2 or 3 minutes and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender. Cook lentils for approximately 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally,  do not overcook, as they can become mushy.

You can salt and pepper to taste at this time.  Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese if desired.

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