Ham and Lentil Soup

When I was working for the university I used to create many soup recipes for use in the fall and winter. We went through vast quantities of soup as it was consistently a popular entrée. Every day we offered multiple soups especially as we needed to cater to students who may be vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free. One of my most popular soups was the one I present today.

At the university I made this with Capicola ham, which is spiced and smoked pork shoulder cured in natural casing. Since capicola is expensive and somewhat hard to find, below I use black forest ham and add my own spices that mimic capicola ham.

This soup is very hearty and filling. The nutrition and flavors came from carrots, potatoes, ham, lentils, as well as spices like cinnamon and paprika.

I use French green lentils as they hold their texture better than red lentils (although the latter are fine to use if you have them). Lentils cook faster than beans or other dried legumes, and don’t need to be pre-soaked overnight. This makes them easy to use.

My husband took this to work for his lunch and sent me a text that said simply: Best. Soup. Ever. In my opinion you can make delicious soups at home with little effort and for little money. This is one of my family’s go-to recipes when I have ham available to use — especially leftover ham from the holidays. Enjoy this wonderful soup with some crusty bread!



  • 5 oz. or 4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. each dried thyme and rosemary or use fresh
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. chicken base or bouillon powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup each celery, carrots and Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup French lentils
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cup large diced black forest ham or any cooked ham


Soak lentils for 20 minutes. After soaking, wash lentils in several changes of water and drain well.

Render bacon in a large soup pot over medium-low heat and cook until bacon is crisp and brown. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Leave the fat in the pot.

Add onion and garlic to the bacon fat and cook over medium heat until onions are soft. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Add bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, paprika, cinnamon, chicken base, salt, and pepper to the onion mixture. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add potatoes, carrots, and celery to the pot. Stir and cook for another minute.


Add canned tomatoes and lentils to the pot. Stir and cook for couple of minutes. Add water and bring it to boil. Add ham and bacon to the pot. Stir and cover.


Cook on medium-low heat for 30-35 minutes until lentils and vegetables are cooked. Taste for seasoning. Transfer the soup to serving bowls and pass along some crusty bread and salad for a complete dinner or lunch!


Serves 4-5

Did you make this dish? I’d love to know how it turns out! Feel free to like this post and comment or use the hashtag #globaldinein on Instagram

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