My dear friend Mahana shared this recipe with me. I was at her home for a bread making lesson and she realized that I came straight from work and had not had time to eat lunch. She warmed up her lentil soup and I immediately asked for the recipe. Mahana is a wonderful cook and she changes the flavor of dishes by the spices she add. She has also made this using paprika, cumin, chili, marjoram or curry; and not necessary in any particular combination. I used an Italian based seasoning because it was what I had and trusted. If you like to experiment you can try different combinations of the other spices and see what you like.
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 cup barley or 1 cup balsamic rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 small onion chopped
1/2 cup dried celery (you can use fresh celery, if you do reduce the amount of water used)
approximately 8 cups of water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 to 2 cups diced ham (not deli but good spiral ham, I used some I had frozen left over from Easter dinner) or mini sausage links or horseshoe sausage (sliced)
2 Tbs crushed parsley
1 1/2 Tbs crushed oregano
1 Tbs. crushed basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
Heat oil in a deep saucepan or pot. Chop onions and slice meat (if you use the mini links you can leave them whole). Place onions in the hot oil, (if using fresh celery add now) add meat and saute until onions are translucent. Add chicken broth, make sure you scrape any particles of meat and onions off the bottom of the pan to incorporate the flavor in the soup. Add lentils, barley or rice and spices (if using dried celery add at this time), stir in 2 cups of water or enough to cover the lentils and barley by 1 inch. Simmer for about 1 hour until lentils and barley are soft. Stirring regularly and adding more water as needed; 1 to 2 cups at a time. I probably cooked this for about 1 1/2 hours and added water every 20 to 30 minutes. Our soup was thick, but still felt like soup.
Once lentils and barley or rice is soft. Serve. We had fresh fruit and warm bread, I think a salad would be delicious with this too.