Serves 6
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil, plus extra
1 medium cooking onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lb (1 kg) smoked ham hock
12 cups (3 L) water
1 cup (250 ml) crushed tomatoes
6 sprigs fresh parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large jewel yam, peeled and chopped
1 cup (250 ml) dried French green lentils
1 cup (250 ml) pasta such as Radiatori or corkscrew
8 oz (250 g) red Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add ham hock, water, crushed tomatoes, parsley and thyme. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook soup, with lid slightly ajar, for 1 hour.
  2. Discard parsley and thyme stems. Remove ham hock to a bowl to cool slightly. Increase heat to medium. Add celery, carrot, yam and lentils and cook, stirring occasionally, at a gentle simmer, for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, remove and shred ham meat, discarding bone and excess fat. Set aside.
  4. Add pasta to soup and cook until pasta is tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in Swiss chard and shredded ham, cooking until chard has softened, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve, divide soup among warmed bowls and garnish with a drizzle of extra olive oil. Enjoy immediately.
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