Your family will love this classic, slow-simmered lentil soup. The soup includes carrots, celery, and onions, along with basic seasonings. A leftover meaty ham bone or ham hock flavors this tasty lentil soup. The soup makes an excellent lunch soup with a sandwich or salad.
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: 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—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. Or freeze the lentil soup in meal-size or serving-size portions for another day.
- 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 chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 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)
- 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.
- Take out ham bone or hock and remove meat.
- Chop meat and return it to lentil soup.
- Remove the bay leaf.
- Ladle the lentil soup into bowls and top with fresh chopped parsley or croutons, as desired.
*If salted broth or stock is used, taste the soup just before it's done and add salt, as needed.
- Homemade Croutons, Plain or Seasoned: 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.