Classic Lentil Soup With Ham

Classic lentil soup with ham recipe

The Spruce Eats / Nita West

  • Total: 74 mins
  • Prep: 14 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
244 Calories
2g Fat
41g Carbs
18g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 244
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 1352mg 59%
Total Carbohydrate 41g 15%
Dietary Fiber 7g 26%
Protein 18g
Calcium 70mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Your family will love this classic, slow-simmered lentil soup. The hearty soup includes carrots, celery, and onions, along with basic seasonings. A leftover meaty ham bone or ham hock flavors this tasty lentil soup. It makes an excellent lunch when the soup is with a sandwich or salad (or just enjoyed in a big steamy bowl).

For a heartier dinner soup, add some extra diced leftover ham along with the ham bone or ham hock. Cooked sliced smoked sausage or diced cooked bacon can be used to replace the ham. If you have vegetarians in the family, omit the ham and replace the water with low sodium vegetable broth.

The soup lends itself to a variety of different seasonings. Feel free to add a clove of minced garlic or about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. Some herbs that go particularly well with lentils are mint, parsley, thyme, and sorrel. Or add color and nutrients to the soup with a handful of chopped fresh spinach or chard.

Compared to other dried legumes, lentils are easy to prepare. There is no presoaking is required and they take much less time to cook. The leftovers are even better the next day, so make a big double batch or make the soup a day in advance. You can also freeze the lentil soup in meal-size or serving-size portions for another day.


  • For the Homemade Croutons
  • 2 to 3 slices firm bread
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: garlic powder (to taste)
  • Optional: dried herbs (your choice of herbs, to taste)
  • For the Lentil Soup
  • 1 meaty ham bone (or 1 large ham hock)
  • 6 cups water (or vegetable or chicken stock, preferably low-sodium or unsalted)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils (brown or green)
  • 2 cups carrots (about 3 to 4 medium carrots, sliced)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Garnish: parsley (chopped)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this soup is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Homemade Croutons

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Crouton ingredients
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  2. If you have any leftover bread lying around, homemade croutons are the perfect topping for this soup. To make them, cut 2 to 3 slices of firm bread into 1/2-inch cubes. 

    Break up bread
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  3. Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. 

    Toss with olive oil
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  4. Spread the bread cubes out on a foil or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and then sprinkle the cubes lightly with salt and pepper. 

    Spread bread cubes out
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  5. For seasoned croutons, sprinkle with garlic powder and some dried herbs, as desired. 

    Season croutons
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  6. Bake the croutons in a preheated 350 F oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

    Bake croutons
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West

Make the Lentil Soup

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for lentil soup
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  2. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, combine the ham bone, water or stock, lentils, carrots, celery, onion, salt, sugar, black pepper, and bay leaf. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.

    Combine ingredients in pot
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the lentils are tender.

    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  4. Take out ham bone or hock and remove meat. 

    Take out ham
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  5. Chop meat and return it to lentil soup.

    Chop meat
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  6. Remove the bay leaf.

    Remove bay leaf
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  7. Ladle the lentil soup into bowls and top with fresh chopped parsley or croutons, as desired.

    Ladle lentil soup
    The Spruce Eats / Nita West
  8. Serve the soup along with freshly baked biscuits, cornbread, or crusty bread.


  • If salted broth or stock is used, taste the soup just before it's done and add salt, as needed.​
  • The soup is ready in about an hour. If you don't have that much time, you might like this crock pot lentil soup.