Smoked Ham Hock and Lentil Soup


"I love making this lentil soup when the weather begins to cool," says 2017 Food & Wine Best New Chef Nina Compton, chef-owner of New Orleans hot spot Compère Lapin. "The ham hock aroma hangs around the kitchen beautifully; the smell alone makes you warmer. Adding a little ginger and lemongrass brightens the soup and reminds me of being back home in St. Lucia. Using local okra reminds me of my Louisiana home and adds a different texture." To make your own croutons for this rich, brothy ham hock and lentil soup, toss 3 cups of cubed baguette with 3 tablespoons butter and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt; bake at 375°F, stirring three times, until toasted, about 15 minutes.

Smoked Ham-Hock and Lentil Soup
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs


  • 2 (10-ounce) smoked ham hocks 

  • 3 quarts plus 3 cups water, divided  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling 

  • 1 cup finely chopped Spanish onion 

  • 1 cup sliced okra (1/8-inch-thick slices)  

  • 1 (1/2-ounce) lemongrass stalk, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons) 

  • 1 small fresh habanero chile, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon) 

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger 

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste 

  • 2 cups uncooked dried red or yellow lentils  

  • .50 cup thinly sliced scallions  

  • 1.50 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus thyme leaves, for garnish 

  • Microgreens and croutons, for serving 


  1. Bring ham hocks and 3 quarts water to a boil in a large stockpot over high. Reduce heat to low to maintain a gentle boil; partially cover, and cook, undisturbed, until meat is tender, about 2 hours. Remove hocks; remove and discard skin from hocks. Remove meat from bones, and roughly chop; set aside. Skim and discard fat from surface of stock. Set stock aside.

  2. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium. Add onion, okra, lemongrass, habanero, and ginger; cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in salt. Add lentils, remaining 3 cups water, and 3 cups reserved stock; bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 7 to 14 minutes, adding additional stock to thin, if needed. Remove 1 cup soup, and place in blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece from lid. Cover opening with a kitchen towel. Process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Stir into soup. Stir in scallions, chopped thyme, and reserved chopped ham. Season with additional salt to taste. Top servings with oil, thyme leaves, microgreens, and croutons. 

Make Ahead

Stock can be frozen up to 1 month.

Suggested Pairing

Bacony, rich California Syrah: Tensley Santa Barbara County

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