This is another one of my re-enactment efforts, trying to feed 14 people a balanced meal cooked over an open fire with medieval ingredients. It turned out so well I decided to node it.


  • 1 boneless ham, tied or encased in an elastic net (about 4kg)
  • 6 large onions
  • 500gr green or brown lentils
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • a few sprigs each of parsley, dill, thyme, rosemary and sage, or any other herbs you have except basil
  • Ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Place the ham in a large stockpot and cover in cold water. Drop in one large onion, peeled but whole, as well as the carrots, celery, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves and all the fresh herbs (tie those in a small bundle with plenty of knitting thread first). Add plenty of black pepper, but no salt.

Cook the ham slowly, over a low heat, for 3-4 hours. Remove any scum that rises to the surface of the water. If you're not sure if it's ready or not, take it out and make an incision with a knife to look at the centre - it should still be pink, but not livid. It's very easy to tell the diference once it's actually before you.

When ready, remove the ham and place on a flat dish. It should rest for at least half an hour before it's ready to eat. Meanwhile, strain the stock in the pot and start the soup.

Peel the rest of the onions and chop them finely into slices. Put them in a heavy-bottomed pot with a bit of oil and place over an extremely low heat. Cover the pot and let the onions sweat for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure they don't stick. At the end they should be soft, transparent and sweet, but not brown and caramelised like for French onion soup.

Wash the lentils with several changes of water, then drain and drop into the pan with the onions. Mix them well until they are all shiny with oil, then pour the stock on top of the vegetables. Increase the heat slightly and cook for approximately an hour.

Serve with the sliced ham and plenty of crusty bread.

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