This traditional Lentil Soup with ham is so flavorful and easy to make! Use a ham bone for more hearty flavor or keep it simple. Optional additions include potatoes, spinach, sausage, and more!
Be sure to try my super popular Split Pea Soup recipe next!
Lentil Soup with Ham
Guys, I can’t even take credit for this. This is my mom’s lentil soup recipe. (The best recipes come from mom, it’s a fact.)
I love making this with a big meaty ham bone and homemade chicken stock, but both are optional. Technically, you don’t even need the ham, but it adds a lot of delicious flavor.
You can make this recipe in 55 minutes flat, or cook it low and slow with a ham bone all afternoon. (Just wait on adding the lentils until the time is right- read on for what you need to know!)
See bottom of post for ingredient quantities and full written instructions.
- Ham bone (optional)
- Olive Oil
- Tomato Paste
- Chicken Broth- Homemade is always best!
- Beef Broth
Lentil Soup with a Ham Bone- (Optional)
Ham bones add tremendous flavor to soup broths. If you have one on hand, follow these instructions for using it:
–Use an uncleaned ham bone. When you remove the bone from the soup at the end of cooking, use two forks to shred the delicious pink meat from it and add it to the soup.
-Use 3 cups chicken broth, 1 cup beef broth, and 3 cups water.
-Add everything to the pot except for the lentils. No need to soften the vegetables first. They float to the surface of the soup and cook/soften in the fat from the ham bone
-Bring to a rapid boil, then decrease to a simmer.
-Simmer for as long as you can, at least 2-3 hours. The longer, the more flavorful your soup will be.
–Add the lentils during the last 45 minutes of cooking.
-Remove the ham bone, add in the ham, and serve.
Ham Bone Substitutes
- Bone-in Picnic Shoulder or smoked ham shank
The following substitutions work well, however I recommend you use 1 cup of water instead of 3 for these:
- Ham hock.
- Chopped salted pork and/or chopped smoked bacon can also be substituted.
Can You Overcook Lentils?
Yes, cooking lentils for too long will cause them to become mushy.
Cooking them at a rapid boil will also cause them to get mushy. Simmer them slowly to keep them intact.
What to Add to Lentil Soup
- Diced Potatoes– Add when you add the lentils.
- Cooked Sausage
- Spinach or Kale
- Cooked & Crumbled Bacon– Good alternative to ham
- Diced Tomatoes
- Parmesan Cheese-To Garnish
Try These Next!
- Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Stew
- Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing
- Ham and Bean Soup (Stove Top, Slow Cooker, or Instant Pot!)
- Ham Casserole with Broccoli and Rice
Lentil Soup with Ham
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup diced ham
- 1 cup Lentils
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 sprigs fresh
Lentil Soup with no Ham Bone
- Heat the butter and the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ham and tomato paste. Cook for additional 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add broth, lentils, and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. Serve!
Lentil Soup with a Ham Bone
- Note: Use an uncleaned ham bone. When you remove the bone from the soup at the end of cooking, use two forks to shred the meat from it and add it to the soup.
- Use 3 cups chicken broth, 1 cup beef broth, and 3 cups water.
- Add everything to the pot except for the lentils. No need to soften the vegetables first. They float to the surface of the soup and cook/soften in the fat from the ham bone
- Bring to a rapid boil, then decrease to a simmer.
- Simmer for as long as you can, at least 2-3 hours. The longer, the more flavorful your soup will be.
- Add the lentils during the last 45 minutes of cooking and simmer gently.
- Remove the ham bone, add in the ham, and serve.