Last Updated on April 20, 2022 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD
This Lentil Soup with Ham Recipe is a simple, comforting, healthy and mostly-hands-off recipe. It features hearty lentils, vegetables and fall-apart-tender ham. You can let it simmer away on the stovetop, or make it in 30 minutes in a pressure cooker.
Ingredients You Need:
Lentils: For this recipe, I like to use yellow lentils, but you could equally use yellow split peas, green split peas, or red lentils. The quantity indicated in this recipe makes for a thinner, brothier, lighter soup. If you prefer a thick, hearty soup, you can add another 1 1/2 cups of dry lentils (but stir frequently if using the stovetop method, and add more water if needed — more liquid evaporates on the burner than in the sealed pressure cooker).
Ham: This lentil soup recipe is my number one favourite way to use up leftover ham, in fact I look forward to it more than the ham dinner itself. My first choice of ham for this soup is the bone from a smoked ham with a bit of meat left on it. The bone itself adds so much richness and flavour, and the meat closest to the bone is always so tender. It shreds at the slightest touch of a fork. See substitutes below.
Ham bone substitutes for soup:
- Ham steaks: These are carried by almost every grocery store I’ve seen, locate near the bacon and breakfast meats typically. A bone-in smoked ham steak will give you the most similar result to a roast ham bone with smoky flavour and juicy meat, but the bone itself is much smaller, so it doesn’t offer quite as much rich flavour from the marrow. Use 1 ham steak in place of the ham bone in the recipe.
- Smoked pork or turkey sausage: Use about 375 g, sliced and added to the soup in the instructions when the ham bone would be added.
- Omit: Leave out the ham bone and enjoy a vegetarian version.
- NOTE IF SWAPPING OR OMITTING: The large ham bone actually contributes most of the salt to this recipe, so if you swap in something else (even a ham steak), you’ll need to adjust the seasoning for salt and flavour. Start by adding 2 tsp smoked paprika and 1 tsp more bouillon concentrate for flavour. If you find it lacks salt/flavour at the end of cooking, you can bring it up to a brisk simmer to reduce for 10+ minutes. To add more bouillon, take a ladle of the hot soup to a separate bowl and whisk the bouillon into that before stirring it into the pot. A splash of soy sauce would also add salt and umami at the end.
Do you need to soak or cook the lentils before using them for soup?
Any of the above lentils do not need to be soaked or cooked before adding to the soup (harder green or brown lentils benefit from soaking, if only to remove excess gas-causing carbohydrates).
Can you freeze lentil soup with ham?
YES! Ham and lentil soup freezes beautifully. In fact, this recipe makes a large batch, perfect for freezing. To freeze soup, I put a clean dishcloth in the bottom of my blender jar (to protect from the blades), stuff a large zippered freezer bag into it to hold it open, then ladle in the soup. So easy and no cleanup. Freeze bags flat for easy storage.
Lentil Soup with Ham
- 3 tbsp avocado or other oil
- 1 large onion chopped (2 cups)
- 2 medium stalks celery chopped (1 cup)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp concentrated chicken bouillon or replace 2 litres of the water with chicken broth
- 2 cups yellow split lentils (substitutes: green split peas or split black lentils)
- 1 ham bone plus leftover meat (Substitutes: 1 bone-in ham steak or 1 smoked turkey leg)
- 2 ½ litres of water 10 cups
- 1 large carrot peeled and chopped (1 cup)
- ½ tsp cayenne
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley plus more to garnish
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery and salt; cook until soft (about 6 minutes).
- Stir in bouillon concentrate to coat veggies. Stir in lentils, then add water, ham bone and remaining ingredients.
- Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook about 2 hours, or until ham is falling off the bone.
- Remove bones and discard. Use two forks to shred the ham; stir it back into the soup. Sprinkle with more parsley, if desired.
Pressure Cooker Method
- Follow instructions for stovetop, using saute setting on your pressure cooker for first steps. Pressure cook on high for 30 minutes.