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This Lentil Soup Recipe with Ham is the perfect comfort food for chilly weather or any day you crave something hearty and filling. Made with simple, nutritious ingredients, it’s the perfect way to use up leftover ham from Christmas dinner or your Easter ham, and introduce a good amount of dietary fiber into your meals. Not only is this most delicious soup easy to prepare, but it also packs a flavorful punch that will leave you feeling satisfied and warm from the inside out.

Three bowls of ham and lentil soup with bread on a table.

Growing up, my mum would make this comforting dish, especially after we had ham for a holiday dinner. It’s a recipe that has been perfected over the years in each of our kitchens. It’s both heartwarming and simple to prepare. Every time I make it, I’m transported back to my childhood kitchen, surrounded by the familiar, cozy aromas of simmering lentils and ham. It’s a tried and true recipe that promises a satisfying and nurturing meal, filled with love and memories.

❤️ Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Hearty and Filling: Perfect for those chilly days or when you need a comforting meal that satisfies.
  • Nutritious: Packed with dietary fiber from the lentils, plus a variety of vitamins and minerals from the veggies.
  • Versatile: Great for using up leftover ham, whether it’s from a holiday ham, ham bone, or even bacon for a bit of a twist.
  • Easy to Make: With simple ingredients and straightforward instructions, this red lentil soup is a breeze to whip up.
  • Flavorful: The combination of ham, lentils, and veggies creates a delicious depth of flavor that’s hard to beat.
  • Leftover Friendly: This great recipe tastes even better the next day, making it perfect for meal prep or enjoying leftovers throughout the week.

🗝️ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Red Lentils: Red lentils cook quickly and give this hearty soup a beautiful color and creamy texture. If you don’t have red lentils, you can use brown lentils or green lentils; just note that the cooking time may vary.
  • Ham Stock: Ham stock will give you the most flavor, especially if you’re using a leftover hambone or ham shank. Check out my homemade ham stock recipe to make your own! Vegetable broth or chicken broth are great alternatives for a lighter option, and water with a couple of ham stock cubes works just fine in a pinch.
  • Leftover Ham Bone, Lean Ham, or Bacon: This is where the soup gets its meaty depth of flavor. A leftover meaty ham bone is ideal, but lean ham or bacon can also add much flavor.
  • Carrots and Potatoes: These veggies add heartiness and nutrition to the soup. Feel free to swap in other root vegetables you have on hand, like parsnips or sweet potatoes.
  • Onions: For that essential base flavor. You could also use leeks or shallots for a slightly different taste.
  • Small Rutabaga (Turnip or Swede): Adds a unique flavor and texture. If you’re not a fan or can’t find it, you can leave it out or substitute with white cabbage or more carrots and potatoes.
  • Salt and Ground Black Pepper: Essential for seasoning. Adjust according to your taste preferences.

🥣 How to Make Lentil Soup with Ham

1. Getting Started

First off, round up all those ingredients. This includes giving your veggies a nice little wash and chop. Got a leftover ham bone? Perfect, make sure any clinging meat is nicely chunked up to flavor your soup.

2. The Cooking Process

Begin by sauteing the onions with olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then, toss in everything else – dry lentils, veggies, bay leaf, ham bone, or ham steak, and your choice of broth or water. This is where the flavors start to make friends and create that rich, soul-warming base. Cover it with a lid, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer together for about 20 minutes. Keep an occasional eye on the pot to stir things around and prevent any unwanted stickiness at the bottom.

3. Blending for Creaminess

Once everything’s nicely simmered (pierce the potatoes and carrot with a fork to check if they’re soft), pluck out the ham bone (if that’s what you’re using) and any big meaty bits. Tip: you can leave the meat in if you want a completely smooth soup. If you’ve got an immersion blender, now is the time to shine, blending the soup to creamy perfection right in the pot. Don’t have one? No sweat, a regular blender or food processor will do the trick too—just take care to do it in batches if needed. Chop up those set-aside meat pieces and toss them back into the pot. This step ensures you get that hearty, meaty texture in every bite.

4. Final Touches

Last but definitely not least, taste your red lentil soup and season it with salt and pepper until it’s just how you like it.

Three bowls of ham and lentil soup with bread on a table.

🪄 Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Kind of Lentils: While red lentils are great for a smoother, creamier soup, different varieties of lentils like brown or green lentils will give your soup a bit more texture. Yellow split peas are also great in a pinch. Pick based on your preference!
  • To Blend or Not to Blend: Love your soup with a bit more chunk? Feel free to skip the blending step or only partially blend for the best of both worlds.
  • Ham Options: No leftover ham bone? No problem. Diced ham or even bacon can add a delicious smoky flavor. If you’re using bacon, give it a quick fry before adding it to the pot for extra crispiness. If you’ve no meat, a couple of ham stock cubes will taste great too.
  • Vegetables: Don’t be shy to throw in any extra veggies lurking in your fridge. This soup is incredibly forgiving and a great way to use up what you have on hand.
  • Spice It Up: For an extra kick, a pinch of red pepper flakes can do wonders. Adjust according to your heat preference.
  • Herb Freshness: A sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or fresh thyme right before serving can brighten up the flavors.
  • Instant Pot: Make this in an electric pressure cooker by following my Instant Pot Lentil Soup Recipe.

🫙 Storage Instructions

This leftover ham soup recipe is just as good, if not better, the next day. For the ultimate guide, check out my post How Long Does Lentil Soup Last?, but for a brief run down, here’s how to keep it fresh:

  • Cool Down: Allow the soup to cool to room temperature before storing to prevent condensation and keep it tasting its best.
  • Refrigerate: Store the soup in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll keep well for up to 4 days.
  • Freeze for Later: This soup freezes beautifully. Pour it into freezer-safe bags or containers, leaving some space for expansion. It’ll be good for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
  • Reheating: Warm the soup over medium heat on the stove, stirring occasionally. If it’s too thick, add a little water or broth to reach your desired consistency.

🍽️ What To Serve With Lentil Soup

Pairing this ham lentil soup with the right sides can turn it into an unforgettable meal. Here are some ideas:

Crusty Bread

Is there anything better than dunking a piece of warm, crusty bread into a bowl of hearty hambone soup? It’s perfect for soaking up all that flavorful broth.

Fresh Salad

Balance the heartiness of this delicious ham soup with a light, fresh salad. A simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing works wonders for refreshing the palate. My Pickled Beet Salad is also a great option!

Roasted Vegetables

For an extra dose of veggies, serve your lentil soup with a side of roasted vegetables. Try carrots, parsnips, or Brussels sprouts roasted to perfection.

Grated Parmesan Cheese

A sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese on top of your soup can add a nice salty, umami kick that complements the lentils and ham beautifully.

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this lentil soup vegetarian?

Absolutely! Just swap out the ham stock for vegetable stock and skip the ham bone or meat. You can add extra veggies or some smoked paprika for that depth of flavor.

What’s the best way to thicken lentil soup?

If your soup is looking a bit too thin for your liking, let it simmer uncovered for a few extra minutes. The lentils will break down further, naturally thickening the soup. Alternatively, you can blend a portion of the soup and mix it back in.

Can I use canned lentils instead of dry?

Yes, you can use canned lentils if you’re short on time. Just be sure to drain and rinse them before adding to the soup.

How can I make this soup spicy?

To add some heat to your lentil soup, add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes or a dash of your favorite hot sauce. Adjust according to how spicy you like it!

Is lentil soup healthy?

Lentil soup is packed with nutrients. Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, when you add in all those veggies, you’re getting a wholesome and balanced meal. Check out my post Is Lentil Soup Healthy? for more details!

Can I make this soup in a slow cooker?

Definitely! Just add all your ingredients to the slow cooker, except for the lentils, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Add the lentils about an hour before the end of cooking time so they don’t become too mushy, unless you’re blending it.

Overhead photo of three bowls of ham and lentil soup with bread on a table.

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📖 Recipe

A bowl of lentil soup with ham topped with bread.

Ham and Lentil Soup Recipe

Bethany Galloway
This Lentil Soup Recipe with Ham is the perfect comfort food for chilly weather or any day you crave something hearty and filling. Made with simple, nutritious ingredients, it's the perfect way to use up leftover ham from Christmas dinner or your Easter ham, and introduce a good amount of dietary fiber into your meals.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine Scottish
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 351 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 leftover ham bone with ham scraps or 2 ham stock cubes with some diced lean ham or bacon
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 1 small rutabaga/turnip chopped (or 1/2 white cabbage)
  • 2 potatoes chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups red lentils
  • 8.5 cups ham stock or vegetable stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Sauté the onions in olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.
    1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 onions
    Sautéed red onions in a pan with a wooden spoon.
  • Add everything else apart from the seasoning to the pot.
    1 leftover ham bone with ham scraps, 4 carrots, 1 small rutabaga/turnip, 2 potatoes, 1 3/4 cups red lentils, 8.5 cups ham stock
    A pot of lentil soup on a stove, stirred with a wooden spoon.
  • Cover the pot with a lid, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
    A pot of lentil soup simmering on the stove top.
  • Remove the ham bone and any large chunks of meat.
    A pot of lentil soup with ham and carrots.
  • Use an immersion blender to blend the soup, or transfer it to a blender or food processor and blend it.
    A person is blending ham and lentil soup with an immersion blender in a pot on a stove.
  • Chop up the large meat pieces and mix them back into the soup.
    A pot of lentil soup with ham.
  • Season to taste, and enjoy!
    1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    Three bowls of ham and lentil soup with bread on a table.

Notes

    1. Kind of Lentils: While red lentils are great for a smoother, creamier soup, different varieties of lentils like brown or green lentils will give your soup a bit more texture. Yellow split peas are also great in a pinch. Pick based on your preference!
    2. To Blend or Not to Blend: Love your soup with a bit more chunk? Feel free to skip the blending step or only partially blend for the best of both worlds.
    3. Ham Options: No leftover ham bone? No problem. Diced ham or even bacon can add a delicious smoky flavor. If you’re using bacon, give it a quick fry before adding it to the pot for extra crispiness. If you’ve no meat, a couple of ham stock cubes will taste great too.
    4. Vegetables: Don’t be shy to throw in any extra veggies lurking in your fridge. This soup is incredibly forgiving and a great way to use up what you have on hand.
    5. Spice It Up: For an extra kick, a pinch of red pepper flakes can do wonders. Adjust according to your heat preference.
    6. Herb Freshness: A sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or fresh thyme right before serving can brighten up the flavors.
    7. Instant Pot: Make this in an electric pressure cooker by following my Instant Pot Lentil Soup Recipe.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

For the ultimate guide, check out my post How Long Does Lentil Soup Last?
    • Cool Down: Allow the soup to cool to room temperature before storing to prevent condensation and keep it tasting its best.
    • Refrigerate: Store the soup in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll keep well for up to 4 days.
    • Freeze for Later: This soup freezes beautifully. Pour it into freezer-safe bags or containers, leaving some space for expansion. It’ll be good for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
    • Reheating: Warm the soup over medium heat on the stove, stirring occasionally. If it’s too thick, add a little water or broth to reach your desired consistency.

Nutrition

Calories: 351kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 19gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 1981mgPotassium: 1185mgFiber: 21gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 7529IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 89mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Comfort Food, easy, ham and lentil soup recipe, ham stock, lentil soup recipe with ham, quick, winter
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