Red Lentil and Ham Soup is an easy delicious, curried lentil soup that can be on your table in 20 minutes and a perfect solution for that left over holiday ham.
Waste not, want not is our motto! We love savory ham leftovers. They make the most delicious soup. You really do not need that much of the meat; even the left-over ham bones will work fine. The ham adds a delicious smokey flavor to this curried red lentil soup.
Table of contents
- Red Lentil and Ham Soup
- Nourishing Soup
- Split Red Lentils Compared to Whole Red Lentils
- How to Make Easy Red Lentil Soup?
- Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
- More Lentil Recipes
Red Lentil and Ham Soup
Are you feeling burnt out from cooking all the time? We totally get that! That is exactly why this curried ham lentil soup is going to be your new go to recipe for those days that you don’t feel like cooking a large meal.
This lentil soup recipe is literally a fire-and-forget stove top recipe using staple ingredients like in our 17 Pantry Recipes for Emergency Preparedness. Do you know what is even better? The leftover soup. Really? Once the flavors have a chance to mingle, they are even better the next day.
Do you want to make this soup in the instant pot or slow cooker? No worries, we have you covered and included the directions in the recipe card below. You can pop everything in your slow cooker before you leave for work or school in the morning and come home to a delicious hot meal. If you love the idea of a no fuss meal with lentils and ham, be sure to try our Instant Pot Lentil Ham Stew.
A little warming soup between the change of season is just what you need to nourish your body and it keeps your body fueled. This in between weather with one minute hot and then the next minute cold combined with heavy wind and dampness is hard on your body. Pamper yourself and explore our recipe category for soup, curries and stews for more recipes to keep you cozy and healthy during this transitional time.
Split Red Lentils Compared to Whole Red Lentils
Split red lentils are great ingredient when you want to eat… like YESTERDAY! Actually, because the red lentils are split, they only take about 7-8 minutes for them to cook. At the 7–8-minute mark, the lentils are tender but still hold their shape and great addition to salads or our Middle Eastern Rice and Lentils.
If you cook the split red lentils a little longer in the red lentil and ham soup (around 15 minutes), it makes a creamy, delicious, almost pureed soup. You could, if you wish, pulse this soup in the food processor or blender before serving. However, it’s delicious just the way it is.
Lentils usually double in volume once cooked. Therefore, the 1.5 cup raw lentils should yield about 3 cups of creamy cooked red split lentils. This makes the soup rich, creamy and so cozy.
In contrast to the split lentils, “whole” red lentils are not split, and they take about 15-20 minutes to cook to tender. If you want whole red lentils to get creamy then you will have to cook them for at least 30 plus minutes for the same effect.
Split Red Lentils
Lentils make for a super creamy and speedy soup. However, as discussed above, if you want to use whole red lentils you will need to increase your cooking time. If you like you can exchange with black, green or brown lentils, you will also need to increase cooking time.
Made with chopped celery, carrots and onions. Of course, we added garlic too.
Ours broth was gluten free and low sodium. Homemade broth is fantastic. If you want to make this recipe vegan, exchange with vegetarian broth and hold the ham.
We used a few slices of leftover Spiced Holiday Glazed Ham. You could even just use the ham bone if that is all you have left. Heck, even Spam ham makes one delicious soup. If you want to make this recipe vegan, exchange the ham with a plant-based meat alternative of choice. However, please note, that most plant-based meat alternatives have gluten and other odd ingredients we are not fond of.
Spices and Herbs
Herbs and spices are an inexpensive and aromatic way to explore the world. Fresh thyme is lovely, but you can also use 1 teaspoon of dried thyme in this Red Lentil and Ham Soup. Bay leaves is an ingredient that really makes lentils extra delicious like in our Baked Tilapia with Caramelized Onion Lentils.
In addition, we added a mild curry powder to give this soup that desired umami. We did not add so much curry powder that it was hot, but just flavorful. You can add as much or as little as you wish to cater to your family and friends. If you don’t have mild curry powder but are contemplating buying some. Here are a couple of good recipes to close the deal. Have you ever tried our Cozy chicken Curry Soup, Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Curry or Vegan Curried Rice?
How to Make Easy Red Lentil Soup?
Stove Top Method
Sauté onion, celery and carrot in a large pot with a little olive oil, just until aromatic. Then add garlic, chicken broth and bay leaves to the pot.
Add red lentils, thyme, ham or ham bone, mild curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat for about 15 – 20 minutes or until the lentil soup is creamy and delicious.
Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Method
Sauté onion, celery and carrot in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker) with a little olive oil, just until aromatic. Then add garlic, chicken broth and bay leaves to the pot.
Add red lentils, thyme, ham or ham bone, mild curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and lock into place. Be sure to put the steam release valve in the closed position. Set the pressure cooker for 10 minutes on high pressure cooker. Allow to naturally release for 10 minutes and then carefully release the steam valve.
Slow cooker Method
Put all of the ingredients for leftover ham and lentil soup into slow cooker. There is no sautéing required. Put the lid on the slow cooker and set on high for 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours.
You will be amazed at how easy this red lentil and ham soup comes together. However, your wallet will love you even more as you are being thrifty and can save some serious cash only using a handful of some pantry supplies.
Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
There is no need to pre-soak split red lentils. Just rinse lentils with cool clean water to remove any debris. Then, pick over for any lentils that do not look like belong that are dark, etc. and remove.
In order to make a creamy split lentil soup, set the pressure cooker on high for 10 minutes, let it naturally release for 10 minutes and then perform the quick release method.
No, you do not need to cook them first. Just add the lentils to the pot with the other soup ingredients and they will get creamy and delicious.
You can store ham and lentil soup for 3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator or it can be frozen for up to 2 months.
More Lentil Recipes
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Red Lentil and Ham Soup
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 onion
peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
peeled and minced
- 8 cups chicken broth
gluten free and lower sodium
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 cups red lentils
split dried. Please wash and pick over for things don’t belong
- 1 sprig thyme leaves
fresh or or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 cup ham chopped or if all you have is the ham bone, just add that.
- 2 teaspoon curry powder
(or to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
Stove Top Directions
- Add olive oil, carrots, celery and onions to a large pot and cook on medium heat until translucent. Add garlic.
- Add chicken broth, bay leaves, red lentils, thyme, ham and/or ham bone, curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium high heat for about 15-20 minutes until the vegetables and lentils are tender. Remove bay leaves and fresh thyme from soup pot.
- Enjoy! (if you wish, you can puree, but perfect just the way it is)
Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Directions
- Sauté onion, celery and carrot in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker) with a little olive oil, just until aromatic. Then add garlic, chicken broth and bay leaves to the pot.
- Add red lentils, thyme, ham or ham bone, mild curry powder and salt and pepper to taste.Place the lid on the pressure cooker and lock into place. Be sure to put the steam release valve in the closed position. Set the pressure cooker for 10 minutes on high pressure cooker. Allow to naturally release for 10 minutes and then carefully release the steam valve. Remove bay leaves and fresh thyme from instant pot.
Slow Cooker Directions
- Put all of the ingredients for ham and lentil soup into slow cooker. There is no sautéing required. Put the lid on the slow cooker and set on high for 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove bay leaves and fresh thyme from soup pot.
Lynn Fenby says
I only made this because I had some leftover ham, and I decided it was time to do something creative with ham besides my usual. I will definitely serve this to company. The lentils with the ham create a delicious blend...my family loved it.
HWC Magazine says
Thank you Lynn, on these colder and rainy days it really hits the spot. The great part is is makes so much so you have meals for the next couple of days too. Take Care
I was looking for a fast and easy recipe for a ham bone and red lentils which I bought thinking they were yellow split peas. Found this recipe on the Internet. What interested me was the slow cooker method. Throw all ingredients in and cook. My kind of cooking. I did not have curry powder so substituted smoked paprika and didn't have fresh thyme but used one teaspoon of dried. It turned out fantastic!
HWC Magazine says
Thank you Camille. Great ideas for simple substitutions. We are delighted you enjoyed the ease of this dump and go slow cooker recipe. Wishing you a super weekend ahead.
A nice soup like this is a standard fare for those of us in the Midlands. Nice recipe and photography
HWC Magazine says
Thanks so much Ian. Glad you enjoyed this red lentil soup recipe.
A nice warming dish for these rainy April days. So missing summer.
HWC Magazine says
Thanks Raul. We could not agree more. Snow in April for some parts of the States! Mother nature is off her rocker.
Lentils are a great power food for endurance runners and camping. They keep great
HWC Magazine says
Thanks so much Jake. Red Lentil and Ham Soup is a great make ahead recipe. This soup would be delicious heated up over a campfire on a chilly day.
Wow -- everything I every wanted to know about lentils. The ultimate power food for camping if you ask me!!
HWC Magazine says
Hi there Jake! Lentils are packed with protein and fibre and a good way to keep you energized on your camping and biking trips.