Classic Lentil Soup with Ham

Lentil Soup with Ham
Diana Rattray
  • Total: 74 mins
  • Prep: 14 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Ratings (44)

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.

What You'll Need

  • 1 meaty ham bone (or 1 large ham hock)
  • 6 cups water (or all or part vegetable or chicken stock, preferably low sodium or unsalted)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils (brown or green)
  • 2 cups sliced carrots (about 3 to 4 medium carrots)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons salt*
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Optional: Chopped parsley for garnish
  • Optional: Croutons (see homemade, below)

How to Make It

  1. 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. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the lentils are tender.
  2. Take out ham bone or hock and remove meat. 
  3. Chop meat and return it to lentil soup.
  4. Remove the bay leaf.
  5. Ladle the lentil soup into bowls and top with fresh chopped parsley or croutons, as desired.
  1. 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.​

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. Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Spread the bread cubes out on a foil or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and then sprinkle the cubes lightly with salt and pepper. For seasoned croutons, sprinkle with garlic powder and some dried herbs, as desired. Bake the croutons in a preheated 350 F oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
244 Calories
2g Fat
41g Carbs
18g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)