Friday, December 30, 2011

Lentil and Smoked Ham Hock Soup With Sweet Potato Wontons

Recipe from Akihiro Moroto, Elmhurst, NY

•1 1/2 cups lentils
•4 ounces smoked ham hocks
•10 cups chicken stock
•1 1/4 cups chopped carrots, peeled, reserve peelings
•2 cups chopped leeks, white part only, reserve green parts
•1/2 cup finely chopped onions, in all, reserve onion peelings
•3 tablespoons chopped garlic, in all
•2 tablespoons fresh thyme, in all
•2 bay leaves, in all
•6 tablespoons olive oil, in all
•salt and black pepper, to taste
•1 cup Princella Cut Sweet Potatoes in Light Syrup
•5 ounces collard greens (use cleaned, frozen chopped greens if fresh are unavailable)
•1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
•1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•1 tablespoon cornstarch
•24 wonton skins
•1 egg, beaten
•4 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Cover the lentils with cold water and soak for 3 to 4 hours, reserve in the refrigerator. Prepare ham hock stock by placing the hocks and chicken stock into a 1-gallon soup pot. Add the green part of the leeks and peelings from the vegetables (onions and carrots) to add flavor, add thyme stems and 1 bay leaf. Simmer at medium low heat for 2 hours. Skim the stock of any impurities that rise to the top. The hocks should be fork tender; if not, allow the stock to simmer for a little longer. Take hocks out of pot and allow to cool. Strain the ham stock, using a fine strainer and reserve.

In a separate 1-gallon soup pot, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil at medium heat and sweat 1/4 cup of onions and 2 tablespoons of garlic. Add the chopped leeks, carrots, 1 tablespoon of thyme, and remaining bay leaf. This mixture should not have any color from the sweating process.

Drain soaked lentils, add the lentils into the soup pot, and stir the lentils and vegetable mixture just enough to mix evenly. Cover the lentils with ham hock stock and simmer at medium heat. Periodically skim the soup of impurities that may rise to the top and continue to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the lentils are completely tender. Add in the collard greens to cook until tender. Remove as much of the greens as possible after 10 minutes and reserve. Use a blender (hand-held or stand-up version) to puree the soup until it is smooth. Adjust seasoning of soup if necessary and keep warm.

Drain canned sweet potatoes and lightly rinse with cold water, chop into small cubes. Chop the previously cooked collard greens fine. Take the meat off of the ham hocks and chop fine. In a separate sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil at medium heat and sweat remaining onions and garlic, add dried red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 minute. Add the collard greens, yams, and ham hocks into the pan and lightly sauté. Season to taste and add the nutmeg. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

Place 24 wonton skins on a cutting board floured with cornstarch. Place 1/4 tablespoon of the potato mixture on the center of each wonton. Using a basting brush, lightly coat the edges of the wonton skins with egg wash. Fold the wonton neatly in half; use your fingers to lightly deflate any trapped air bubbles. Continue this process until all of the mixture or wontons are used.

Bring a gallon of water to boil and cook the wontons for 2 minutes. Use a skimmer to take them out. Pour 1 cup of soup into serving bowl, add 3 wontons and garnish with chopped chives.