Lentil and Ham Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 quarts chicken stock
3 to 4 smoked ham hocks
1 pound lentils
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onions, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 4 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Saute for 1 minute.
3. Add the ham hocks and stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook about 1 hour, or until the hocks are tender.
4. Add the lentils and continue to cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
5. Remove from heat. Take out the ham hocks and remove the meat. Add the ham back into the soup. Add salt and pepper if needed and stir in the parsley.