1poundcooked and cubed ham,about 3 cups - perfect use of leftovers!
In a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil, onions and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the onions have begun to soften.
Add carrots, celery and sea salt. Cook for about 8 minutes or until veggies have softened.
Add the remaining ingredients except the ham. Mix together, bring to a boil and cover with lid. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 35 minutes, until the lentils are soft and cooked through.
To thicken the soup, use an immersion stick blender to blend a bit of the soup until it reaches your desired consistency. I gave the soup 5 or 6 quick pulses. You can also transfer a cup or two of soup into a stand blender, blend and then return to the pot. Alternatively, if you like the thickness of the soup as it is, you don't have to blend it at all! It's up to you.
Add the ham, cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
Taste and season with salt as necessary. Serve with warm bread and garnish with a fresh sprig of thyme.
To freeze, cool the soup down completely by chilling it in the fridge. Once chilled, store in freezer-safe zip-top bags or containers and freeze. When ready to eat, let frozen container thaw completely in the fridge or defrost in the microwave. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave until completely warm.