Scottish Lentil Soup

This Scottish Lentil Soup is one of our family's favourite recipes! It's perfect for a chilly fall evening or warming up on a cold winter day. It's very filling without being too heavy and perfect served with some crusty rolls, slathered in butter!

Scottish lentil soup in a bowl with parsley

Scottish Lentil Soup

Have you ever had lentil soup? We call this one Scottish Lentil Soup because it uses a clear based broth and ham hock for flavour. It is based on my husband's favourite recipe growing up. The Italian lentil soup my family was familiar with uses tomatoes and no meat.

Another Scottish soup we love is Scottish Cock-a-Leekie Soup. We use rice and prunes in ours, but this recipe offers barley as an option too.

Ingredients for Scottish lentil soup on a counter

Ingredients for Scottish Lentil Soup

  • Smoke Pork Hocks – I use Villari Brothers Smoked Pork Hocks or Smoked Pork Necks from Walmart. A package is about 2-2.5 lbs and I use the whole thing.
  • Carrots – 2 grated, 2 diced
  • Turnip – 1/2 grated, 1/2 diced
  • Leeks, finely sliced
  • Vegetable bouillon cubes
  • Ham soup base
  • Red lentils – rinsed well in cold water
  • Diced ham – I use leftovers or purchase a ham steak
  • 10 to 12 baby potatoes, halved
  • Fresh parsley
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper

Turnip Confusion: At some point (after making this recipe dozens of times), Nick & I realized that what we call turnips are actually two different things. In the U.S., a turnip is a small white & purple vegetable.

In Scotland, it is a larger brownish/yellow vegetable (that we call rutabagas in the U.S.). I've tested the recipe using turnips, rutabagas, and a combination of the two. It's delicious either way, but we actually prefer the combination.

Love turnips & rutabagas? Try this turnip puff recipe that works well with both!

How to Make Scottish Lentil Soup

I've included the printable recipe card at the bottom with complete instructions below but here's a quick walkthrough with pictures & tips!

Create your base by boiling your ham hocks/necks in a large pot for 90 minutes, turning every 30 minutes or so.

Ham hocks in a dutch oven

Yes, ham hocks look disgusting, but I promise you don't want to skip this step! They provide such a flavourful base for your soup that you can't get without them – trust me, I've tried!

Remove the ham hocks/necks & skim off any fat layer on the top. You can either discard the ham at this point or remove the meat to use later in the recipe.

Turnips in stock pot

Start adding the veggies! You'll put in the carrots & turnips, simmer for a bit, add your leeks and cook for a bit longer.

Leeks added to soup in a pot

Make up your stock. You could use 8 cups of vegetable stock but after my time in the UK, I quit buying cartons of vegetable stock & use concentrate instead. They are cheaper per ounce of stock, create less waste, and easier to customize the strength of flavour.

I like to use Knorr's Stock tubs, Knorr's Bouillon Cubes, and Better than Bouillon for vegetable & chicken stock.

For ham soups, I prefer to use L.B. Jamison's Ham Flavored Soup Base but plan to try Better than Bouillon for it. I'm not super brand loyal but some don't seem to pack as much flavour or are too salty.

Veggies simmering in a pot

Add your lentils and cook until they soften.

Toss in the ham & potatoes.

After the potatoes are about done, add your seasonings & cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread or rolls.

Scottish lentil soup in a dutch oven on a counter

What do I need to make this Scottish lentil soup?

You need a good sturdy pot. I love using a dutch oven for soups, stews, and chili because it holds heat evenly. I also have a 16 quart stock pot for when I make a huge batch of this. It takes longer for prep, but is one of the few foods Nick will do leftovers with & I love to freeze it.

How do I freeze Scottish lentil soup?

Allow the soup to cool and transfer to a freezer container. If freezing a larger batch, I love to use containers like these 64 oz ounces. We normally have 4 of them in the deep freeze of lentil soup & 4 for random extras.

We usually use 2 of them per meal for larger servings and leftovers for lunch the next day. I thaw the containers in the fridge and then reheat it in a pan on the stove on medium-low heat. We aren't fond of the microwave, but you could use that to reheat a single serving if you prefer.

Do you need to soak lentils?

Nope! Lentils don't have to soak as beans do. You do NEED to rinse them well first though. If you've ever cooked lentils (or rice) without rinsing first, you might be a little grossed out once you rinse and see how dirty they truly are.

I typically just toss it into a bowl of cold water while I'm getting everything else out and then strain it. If the water is really gross, I'll rinse a second time.

Close up of ham, potatoes, lentils, carrots, and leeks

What nationality is lentil soup?

I was surprised to find how many different variations there are. There are meatless and vegetarian versions. Creamy and clear broth. Lentil soup varies from country to country and family to family, but you'll find similarities in recipes based on where they originated.

In the UK, red lentils are the most common. Greek and Italian recipes typically use brown or green lentils, although I did find one Greek lentil soup that uses red lentils and looks delicious! Italian recipes often include spinach or another green and tomatoes.

Bowl with soup on a saucer

More Soup Recipes

A bowl of lentil soup with chunks of potato, carrot, and ham visible.

Scottish Lentil Soup

This Scottish Lentil Soup is one of our family's favourite recipes! It's perfect for a chilly fall evening or warming up on a cold winter day. This soup is very filling without being too heavy and perfect served with some crusty rolls, slathered in butter!
4.38 from 16 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 16 cups
Author Savanah


  • 2 ham hocks
  • 4 large carrots 2 grated, 2 diced
  • 1 turnip 1/2 grated, 1/2 diced
  • 2 leeks finely sliced
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 2 teaspoons ham soup base
  • 250 g red lentils about half a 16 oz bag, rinsed well in cold water
  • 1/2 cup diced ham
  • 10 to 12 baby potatoes halved
  • 1 handful fresh parsley chopped yield of about 1 Tbsp (1 tsp if using dried)
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Black pepper to taste


  • In a large saucepan, over high heat, cover the ham hocks with water.  Cook for 90 minutes, turning every 30 minutes.
  • Remove the ham hocks and skim off any scum/fat layers.
  • Add the carrots and turnip. Simmer for 10 minutes, until tender.
  • Add chopped leeks and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Make 2 quarts of stock using the 2 bouillon cubes & 2 tsp soup base.  Add stock to soup.
  • Add lentils and cook for 20 minutes, or until soft.
  • Add in the ham & potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are soft enough to cut with a fork.
  • Add parsley, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste.
  • Cook 10 minutes.
  • Serve with crusty bread or rolls.


After removing the ham hocks, allow them to cool and remove the meat from the bone. Add back in with your diced ham.
Prep hint: I typically chop up/grate everything in advance so I just have to add to the pot & stir when my timer goes off!


Serving: 2cups | Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 387mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g
Course Recipes
Keyword comfort food, fall recipes, ham recipes, leftover ham, lentil recipes, Scottish, soup, soup recipes, winter recipes
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  1. You never say how much water to add when cooking the ham hocks. And after 90 minutes of cooking on high, isn’t everything already dried up. Lentils don’t take long but you also never say when exactly to add them. And if you cook for another 10 minutes after your potatoes are done isn’t everything just mush at this point? This recipe sounded really good but the directions don’t make me confident to cook it.

    1. Vickie,

      In a large saucepan, over high heat, cover the ham hocks with water. – how much water will depend on your container and the size of the hocks. Add water as needed to keep them covered.

      You add the lentils after your broth/stock, before adding the ham & potatoes.

      When the potatoes are soft enough to cut with a fork, add the last few ingredients and cook for another 10 minutes.

      The lentils will be mostly disintegrated into the dish, thickening it. The potatoes will be soft but not mushy. The texture of the rest of your veggies will depend on how small you dice them.

    1. Yes, L.B. Jamison’s Ham Flavored Soup Base is the one I normally grab in the U.S. You can get it at Walmart, some grocery stores, and from Amazon.

  2. I modified this slightly based on what I had available and needed to use up. I didn’t have a turnip, and opted to omit the potatoes for personal preference. I also added celery since I had a few stalks in the fridge that needed to be used, and I used leftover ham from a spiral ham instead of ham hocks. Overall it’s a very hearty and tasty soup! And I was able to use up a bunch of ham, carrots, leeks and celery that needed to be used.

  3. I made it just now—I was worried that my “where’s the meat” husband wouldn’t like it so I chopped up 2 large ham steaks with the ham hock meat. Honestly , it looks, smells, and tastes awesome! He’s gonna love it and so am I. Thanks for this different take on a hearty winter soup!