Old fashioned homemade Lentil and Bacon Soup is pure comfort food in a bowl. It’s cheap to make, warming and filling. This is perfect cold weather food.
A bowl of old fashioned lentil soup is pretty hard to beat.
The old fashioned, simple recipes are the best – and looking at a few of my most popular recipes on this blog – tattie soup, cheese scones and mince and tatties it seems like many of you agree with me!
I’ve been thinking of posting this soup recipe for a long, long time. It’s something I make at home all the time – in particular when Autumn begins and we’re all in need of warming up.
I do a few versions of lentil soup – but this Scottish Lentil Soup recipe is by far the simplest.
easy lentil and bacon soup recipe
You’ll find no fancy ingredients here – just onions, carrots, red lentils, stock and bacon or ham – but you’ll most certainly end up with a delicious, homely, comforting soup that will quite happily live in your fridge for a few days, ready for you to heat up whenever you fancy a bowl of hot soup.
I usually make this lentil soup with bacon because I always have a pack of bacon in the fridge. But for the very best flavour, use a ham hock or gammon joint.
INGREDIENTS list for LENTIL AND BACON SOUP
(Scroll to the bottom of the post to find ingredient amounts and detailed instructions!)
- Red Split Lentils are my preference for this recipe – they don’t need pre-soaking before you use them. I do always give them a rinse in a sieve first though.
- Onions, peeled and finely diced
- Celery. You don’t have to add this, but I love adding celery to soups for a great depth of flavour. If you chop if finely enough you won’t even know it’s there, so if you’re thinking “yuck, I hate celery!” please don’t worry!
- Carrots, peeled and finely diced
- Back bacon, trimmed of any excess fat OR for the very best flavour, a small gammon joint or Ham Hock
- Ham stock cubes – I use Knorr ham stock cubes.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. If I’m using a ham hock, I don’t add the salt at the beginning. It’s better to add near the end of cooking time so you don’t over do it.
if you are using a gammon joint or ham hock, then you might not need to use a stock cube – the meat should flavour the soup just beautifully. You’ll know when you taste it – it’s just a matter of personal preference.
WHAT IS A HAM HOCK?
A ham hock (or pork knuckle) is a joint cut from the bottom half of a pigs leg. It requires long, slow cooking. The meat is sweet, tender and absolutely perfect for a lentil soup.
However, if you can’t get hold of a ham hock you can use a small gammon joint instead or as I sometimes do, use back bacon cut into bite sized pieces. But using a hock or piece gammon will give you the best results by far.
I’ve recently had great success using ham ribs for lentil soup. You should be able to buy ham ribs from your local butcher. They might even be a little cheaper than a ham hock.
how to make lentil and bacon soup
if using a ham hock or gammon joint
It’s very simple – all you need to do is rinse your lentils in a sieve, place them in a large saucepan along with the onions, carrots, celery if using and water, and the ham hock or gammon joint if using.
Place the pan on the hob and slowly bring to the boil, keeping an eye on it because lentils have a tendency to swell and bubble over the sides of the pan!
Once the liquid has come to the boil, turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook gently for around 2 hours.
I let the soup cool down a little before removing the ham hock or gammon joint, shredding the meat and adding it to the soup.
TOP TIP Don’t forget to season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You might not need that much salt – it will depend on how salty the gammon joint or hock is. So err on the side of caution when seasoning.
if using back bacon
If you’re adding bacon to the soup, it won’t take quite as long to cook. All you need to do is follow the exact same steps above, but add the bacon pieces once the soup has been simmering for about 30 minutes.
If you add the bacon at the beginning, it gets really tough and chewy – not pleasant! I usually use scissors to cut the bacon into bite sized pieces. Continue to cook the soup on a gentle heat for another 40-45 minutes or until the lentils have cooked down, the vegetables are soft and you have a lovely thick soup.
DO YOU NEED TO SOAK RED SPLIT LENTILS BEFORE COOKING?
Good news! There is no need to soak red split lentils before you cook them. I simply place the lentils in a sieve and give them a rinse to remove any dust or debris before adding them to the soup.
HOW LONG WILL LENTIL AND BACON SOUP KEEP FOR?
The soup will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
When reheating lentil soup, you might need to add a little water or stock to loosen it up as the lentils will thicken quite a lot.
CAN YOU FREEZE LENTIL SOUP?
Yes, lentil soup freezes very well. Freeze in ziplock freezer bags or an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in a refrigerator before using and re-heat until piping hot. As I’ve mentioned above, you’ll probably need to add more stock or water to loosen the consistency.
make vegetarian lentil soup
This recipe can easily be made vegetarian. Simply use a vegetable stock cube in place of the ham. You might be interested in my spicy sweet potato and red lentil soup which is also vegetarian/vegan friendly.
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Lentil and Bacon Soup
Lentil and Bacon Soup is old fashioned comfort food at its best. Make a big pan of this hearty soup and it will keep well in the fridge for 3 days.
- 200g Red Split Lentils, rinsed in a sieve to remove dust and debris
- 1 Large Onion, peeled and diced finely
- 1 stick of celery, finely diced (optional)
- 3 medium Carrots, Peeled and cut into small dice
- 6 Rashers of Bacon Bacon, cut into small pieces OR 1 Ham hock or Gammon Joint
- 1.5-2 Litres of water
- 1 Ham Stock Cube (only if using bacon - you shouldn't need it if you are using a ham hock or gammon joint because the meat will flavour the soup beautifully)
- Salt and Pepper
- Place the rinsed lentils in a large saucepan with the onions and carrots. If you're using a ham hock or gammon joint place this on top of the lentils and vegetables. If you're using bacon there's no need to add it yet.
- Pour over enough cold water to cover everything completely - about 1.5-2 litres. Lentils swell as they cook so you might need to add more liquid later.
- Bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer. Add the ham stock cube if using, then cook on a gentle heat for 11/2-2 hours. Give the soup a stir every now and then to make sure it isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- If you're using back bacon, add it once the soup has been cooking for about 45 minutes or so. I cut it up using scissors and add it straight to the pan. Continue to simmer for about another 30 minutes or until the lentils have cooked down, the vegetables are soft and the soup is nice and thick.
- If you're cooking a raw ham hock or gammon joint with the soup, it will definitely need a good two hours on a slow simmer. The soup is ready when the ham hock or gammon joint pulls apart easily with two forks. Carefully lift the joint from the soup and place on a chopping board.
- Using two forks, shred the meat into small chunks and add to the soup. Taste the soup to see if it needs salt and pepper before serving.
If you like, you can add other vegetables - peeled and diced turnip (neep as we call them in Scotland) also go really well with this soup.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 147Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 484mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 13g
Calories and nutritional information are provided by a third party application and should be viewed as indicative figures only.
does the bacon just go in raw ? doesn’t need cooked in pan before adding water?
Yes, you add the bacon raw 🙂
Just put this in slow cooker, glad to find one which uses a ham hock, can’t beat lentil and bacon soup on a cold day
hope you enjoyed it 🙂