German Lentil and Bacon Soup
Rinse the lentils. Put the lentils and water in a large soup pot with the ham bone, 2 of the whole onions, 3 of the whole stalks of celery with their leaves, the bay leaf, and the thyme. As this mixture is coming to a boil, peel and grate the potato and add it to the pot. Bring the mixture completely to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 3 hours, stirring regularly.
When the soup has only about 30 minutes left to cook, thinly slice the carrots. In a small saucepan, cover them with water and simmer them for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a skillet, sauté the bacon on medium heat. Leaving the bacon grease in the pan, transfer the bacon to paper towels to absorb the grease. Coarsely chop the remaining onion and slice the remaining celery. Sauté them in the bacon fat on low heat for 5 minutes, without allowing them to brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to paper towels to drain. Discard the bacon fat.
When the mixture in the soup pot is done cooking, reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Remove the whole onion, whole celery, bay leaf, and ham bone from the soup pot; discard everything
exceptthe ham bone. Cut the meat from the bone and add the meat back into the pot. Stir in the sautéed carrots and celery. Add salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the bacon on top of the soup in a tureen or individual bowls.
You can use diced, cooked ham instead of the ham bone. Simply add about ½–1 cup of meat at the end of step 4.