Department stores here build restaurants into the top stories and rent space to bakeries, restaurant flagships, prepared food shops, high end grocers and butchers at the basement level. Cut out into the floor plan is a space yielded each week to regional foods from prefectures around Japan. In one year you can travel the full length of Japan’s archapelgio by taking weekly trips to the department store.
A few weeks ago Tokushima showcased fish, sweets, fruits, and enormous hocks of ham from which a long-lived butcher with a hefty hand sliced samples. Tucked back in that display case, wrapped in layers of plastic, were the bones.
I put those bones — broken open to the marrow — in a pot of water with a bay leaf and left it to simmer. An hour before company I smashed two garlic cloves with the back of my knife. The smells felt rustic, so I rough diced carrot, onion, celery, bacon and browned them in olive oil until the brown bits stuck firmly to the pan. Pouring the liquid from a can of tomatoes to deglaze, I evaporated the liquid off deglazing one last time with a generous jigger of extra dry Vermouth.
Looking in my pantry I found brown, orange, yellow lentils and a box of Lentille Verte du Puy.
I remember eating Le Puy lentils as part of a rustic lentil salad. The image fit the mood, so I poured the ham bone broth and one cup of the green lentils into the dutch oven and simmered for thirty minutes.
My friends came over to watch a DVD. We had the soup with some French bread (not pictured) and spinach tart (packed with ham) then watched a movie with a bottle of wine, crackers and cheese.
Tier one (you must use)
- Ham bones (for stock)
- 1 cup of lentils
- 1 onion, 1/2 carrot, 1 stalk celery diced
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic
Tier two (suggested)
- A few slices thick cut bacon
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Spring of thyme
- Juice from can of tomatoes
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- Olive oil
Tier three (optional)
- Tarragon (to finish)
- Ham or sausage
- Tomatoes, chopped
- A few parsley stems (seasoning)
Simmer ham bones with bay leaf, thyme, parsley stems for at least 1 hour, no more than two. Strain and reserve.
Saute onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bacon until it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add liquid from tomato to partly deglaze then wine to fully deglaze. Add soup stock, lentils, and tomatoes. Bring to boil, turn down heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes covered on lowest heat. Turn off heat, place a sprig of tarragon, cover again and let sit at least ten minutes before serving.
You can stretch this by increasing the vegetables and adding diced turnip. Sorrel or stemmed spinach at the very end of cooking can also extend and add flavour.