Rheinlander Famous Lentil Soup
To Make the Stock:
2 large fresh or smoked pork hocks
2 small pork bones
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 quarts cold water
Rinse bones and pork hocks under cold water. Place in stock pot and add rest of ingredients. Simmer on low heat for 2 hours. Strain stock and save ham hocks.
4 oz. diced bacon
1/2 cup diced leaks (white part only)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 cups raw diced potatoes
1 1/2 cups washed green lentils
1 tsp. thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 TBSP white vinegar*
salt to taste
Melt bacon in stock pot. Add onion, leaks, carrots, and celery and saute' until golden. Add one quart of stock, lentils and seasoning. Cook for 1/2 hour then add potatoes and cook until lentils and vegetables are tender. Remove meat from pork hocks and dice very small and add to soup. Salt to taste. Before serving add the vinegar. Serve with sausage and warm bread.
Usually I use 2 cups of lentils and almost never have a leak or the exact meat called for. Split peas also work well as a variation or combination.
The above is a recipe a dear treasured friend passed on to me a couple of months ago when I shared my desire to learn a good lentil soup. (She didn't say it was a secret recipe so I hope it is okay to share here.)
I hadn't tried this recipe yet because my kitchen shopping never seemed to include some of the basic ingredients this list calls for. But now that spring has truly hit our area and the rains have made every corner cold and damp; today seemed the perfect day for a pot of soup.
I laughed to myself as I argued with the recipe and offered it what my kitchen had supplies for. I had no pork hocks, bones or bacon. Instead I cut up a package of skinless smoked sausage links. I had no onion, bay leaves, potatoes or peppercorns. However I did put in 3 carrots, 3 celery, pepper, a dash of salt and some green onion at the end. With my fuzzy dog boys being vegan eaters, lentils are always a plenty and I did a combination of brown and yellow lentils for the protein benefit as well as the added flavor boost. As for the rest of the seasonings; I couldn't find any thyme, I completely forgot to add the vinegar and I most cautiously added the nutmeg since I had only heard of using it in pastry fun.
The things is this: even with all the variations to my offerings, my family went nuts over it. Even the extra people that often end up at my house loved it. My pot is now empty, tummies are full and at the end of the night everyone is still commenting on how much they enjoyed the soup.
As I did the dishes tonight, I thanked God for helping me pull it all together. He said, "You are welcome. Think about this though. There is a lesson to be learned here."
"Really Papa? Is it that we can eat healthy and creative in the kitchen?"
"Well yes daughter (with a smile) that is true. But the bigger lesson is that it is not for you to judge what is going to work in different situations. Nor is it by your strength and wisdom that things come together. Your only task is to offer me what you have. I will take that offering and make a beautiful and complete recipe with it."
Then my mind flashed through a list of some of the famous people in the Bible that we know of today.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Abraham and Sarah doubted.
Samson was arrogant and prideful.
David had an affair and was a selfish murder.
Gideon needed proof over and over again.
Moses orphaned, had a speech impediment and lacked self confidence.
Then I saw images of famous scenes of the Bible.
Rahab was honest and courageous despite the formidable threat of death.
Abraham and Sarah became parents in their 90s.
Samson killed a bear, a lion and brought down the walls of a coliseum with his bare hands.
At about 12 years old, David fought and killed a giant of a man and later went on
to be a man after God's own heart.
Gideon chose the strength of his army by how they drank water from the river.
Then they conquered in battle with only clay jars and torches as distant weapons.
A hundred thousand people listened and followed the guidance of Moses for 40 years.
These lists could go on and on. That is just what instantly flashed in my mind.
It makes me think about the limitations I put on myself; how I hold myself back without even asking God what He wants to do with "my ingredients".
So, here at the end of the day, I want to encourage you in a quirky but very real way with a bowl of soup. You have a destiny and a purpose that is made only for you. Each day holds treasure, adventure and hope. All you have to do is step forward and hand God what you may perceive as meager offering. He, is His great wisdom and creativity, will fashion your offering with His guided skill into a beautiful recipe that brings delight and satisfaction to Him and to everyone around you and will speak into your own humble self worth.
God bless you this week with His joy overflowing.