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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Start adding the veggies! You'll put in the carrots & turnips, simmer for a bit, add your leeks and cook for a bit longer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More Soup Recipes
- Crockpot French Onion Soup
- Paleo Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
- Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- 20 Slow Cooker Chicken Soup Recipes
- Taco Soup
Scottish Lentil Soup
- 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.