I'm OK with lentils, although I wouldn't call them a favorite. I've made a bunch of lentil dishes, all of which, I think, are Indian. Even with plenty of tinkering, nothing special. This soup, however, passes the relatively easy "me" test and the much more stringent butterfly lady test.
This was a fact-finding mission, not a closely measured soup session, so measurements are approximate:
Mix and cook. Serves portions.
Three 3/4-inch thick pieces of smoked pork shank (shanks are much better than hocks)
1.5 cups lentils, carefully sorted and rinsed
1 small yellow onion, halved
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 dried chili (more if you want noticeably spicy soup)
2 dried bay leaves
A stalk or two of celery
1/4 cup wild rice
1/4 cup barley
In a spacious soup pot (mine is 9 inches in diameter), simmer the shanks in about three times as much water as it would take to just cover them (aka a couple of inches). You may need to add more water later.
Give it about 10 minutes a-simmer, then add everything but the barley and wild rice.
This is a little tricky. You want to simmer the lot until the lentils are about 35 minutes from ready, then add the rice and barley. I guess this is an unnecessary and fiddly step - maybe you could add the grains earlier, but I feared they would wind up mushy.
In the initial simmer, you can let the soup get near a boil, and skim off the scum from the top. I think the scum's zenith (or nadir, depending on how gross you find it) tends to be about 10 minutes into the simmer.
This makes plenty - maybe six medium to large bowls of soup (I think!)