This hearty comforting ham and lentil soup is so easy to make and so delicious. No heavy cream just healthy ingredients and a slow cooker are all you need.
There isn't anything more comforting than having soup bubbling away gently in the slow cooker all day. And the smells that will fill your kitchen from cooking this ham and lentil soup will be divine. If you're looking for more slow cooker or soup recipes you may want to try slow cooker chicken and mushroom soup, veggie tortellini soup, or try this lentil soup.
This soup is so perfect for around Christmas when you have leftover ham. I've used a whole gammon (a small one) but you can definitely use leftover Christmas ham. *This slow cooker gammon makes a perfect Christmas dinner.
Like most people, I'm a very big fan of my slow cooker and absolutely love using it for making soups. Like this slow cooker vegetable soup, chicken and mushroom soup or just letting my soups simmer away gently in a Dutch oven on the stove.
Below is a snapshot of the ingredients that you'll need.
- smoked gammon joint
- dried red lentils
- yellow onion
- vegetable stock made with a stock cube
- bay leaf
- cavolo nero
See recipe card for quantities.
Step 1 & 2 - Building the flavour
- Heat some oil in a non-stick frying pan and gently saute the onions and garlic until they're soft and translucent.
- Add in the leeks and celery and let them soften too. This is just building the flavour before putting everything in the slow cooker. *Go easy on the seasoning here because the gammon will add a lot of seasoning to the whole soup.
Step 3 & 4 - Adding it all to the slow cooker
- Once your leeks, celery, onions and garlic are soft place them in the bowl of your slow cooker. Add the red lentils, bay leaves and chopped carrots.
- Nestle the smoked gammon joint on top of the lentils and pour the stock over everything. The gammon needs to be just covered. I've listed the measurement of the stock that you need, but if you have to add a little more water that's completely fine.
Step 5 & 6 - Finishing the soup
- Once the ham is cooked through remove it from the soup and place it on a wooden chopping board to rest for a few minutes. Use 2 forks to shred the ham leaving a few larger chunks.
- Use a stick blender to gently blend a little bit of the soup. Blending some of the soup will help to thicken it and give it a very hearty and thick texture.
- Stir the cavalo nero into the soup and let it wilt in the hot liquid for about 5-8 minutes. Add the shredded ham back into the soup and give everything a good stir and adjust the seasoning.
Even though this soup is straightforward, there are a couple of ways you can change it up and truly make it your own or adjust it to your or your family's taste.
- Green lentils or split peas - you can use the tins of green lentils for this soup, just be sure that you add them at the end. They're already cooked so if they go in at the beginning they will turn to mush. If you're using split peas (Aldi doesn't sell them, but you may shop somewhere else too) then add them in like you would with the lentils.
- Cavalo Nero - If you want to switch out the cavalo nero go with something like a savoy cabbage that's hearty and fiberous and can stand up to the texture of the soup. Skip the spinach. It'll be too delicate and will get lost in this soup. The texture is meant to be hearty and robust.
- Smoked gammon - You can absolutely use unsmoked gammon here if you prefer. I'm Canadian and we absolutely love the flavour of smoked ham of any kind but you may want a soup that's not so bold.
This soup is naturally gluten and dairy-free making it a great choice for anyone with an intolerance.
Here's a couple of ways that you can switch up this ham and lentil soup
- Spicy - add chili pepper flakes while cooking to imbue heat into the dish, or banana peppers
- Deluxe - add in a tin of white beans along with the lentils and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some parmesan shavings.
- Kid friendly - serve with grilled cheese or melted cheese on toast.
Equipment can have a big impact on how a recipe turns out. And not all of it is created equal. I'm listing the exact equipment I've used to get the results I did. This list is great if you don't have some of the equipment required and aren't sure what to choose. I'm recommending these because I love them and use them all the time!
- Slow cooker - 3.5l is all you need to make any of the recipes on Savvy Bites. But if you have a big family then feel free to go for the 6.5l
- Wooden chopping board - I prefer a wooden chopping board because they're solid and sturdy. They don't blunt your knife the way a glass one will and they're nicer to use than plastic.
- Thermometer - As mentioned above I wouldn't cook any meat without my Thermapen. There are other options, but this os the one I use.
- Non-stick frying pan - Every kitchen needs a good non-stick frying pan. They certainly don't need to be expensive.
- Soup storage containers - These are plastic, reusable, light weight and easy to wash.
- Reuseable food bags - These reusable bags from Lakeland are so good!
This ham and lentil soup is prime for freezing. It gets better the next day and freezes like a dream. The cavolo Nero stands up well to the freezing. Spinach would turn to mush.
To defrost, just place in the fridge overnight and reheat in a pan or in the microwave until the soup is piping hot. Readjust the seasoning.
It's not necessary to rinse the gammon before you place it in the slow cooker. It used to be necessary if the gammon has been salt-cured, but these days the salt curing is so mild that it doesn't make a difference.
You may be wondering what the difference is between gammon and ham. They're both cuts from the hind leg of the pig. Gammon is raw and needs to be cooked. Ham has already been cooked and is served ready to eat.
Hint: The most fool-proof way to know if the ham is done is to use a thermometer. There are so many to choose from but I love this one! Yes, it is a little pricey but it is so so worth it. When it comes to your food safety it's actually pretty cheap. I've got 3 and they last forever and can really take a beating in the kitchen.
Easy Rich and Hearty Slow Cooker Ham and Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) olive oil
- 1 kg (4 cups) smoked gammon joint
- 175 g (6 ⅙ oz) red lentils
- 1 (1) yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves (3 cloves) garlic, minced
- 2 (2) sticks celery, sliced
- 1 (1) leek, washed and finely sliced
- 2 (2) large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 (2) bay leaves
- 100 g cavalo nero or kale *see notes
- 1.8 (1.8) litres of vegetable or chicken stock *see notes
- In a non-stick skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and sauté until they’re soft and translucent.
- Heat some oil in a non-stick frying pan and gently saute the onions and garlic until they're soft and translucent. Add in the leeks and celery and let them soften too.
- Once the leeks, celery, onions and garlic are soft place them in the bowl of your slow cooker. Add the red lentils, bay leaves and chopped carrots. Place the smoked gammon joint on top of the lentils and pour the stock over everything. The gammon needs to be just covered. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6.
- Once the ham is cooked through remove it from the soup and place it on a wooden chopping board to rest for a few minutes. Use 2 forks to shred the ham leaving a few larger chunks. Use a stick blender to gently blend a little bit of the soup.
- Stir the cavolo nero into the soup and let it wilt in the hot liquid for about 5-8 minutes. Add the shredded ham back into the soup and give everything a good stir and adjust the seasoning. Serve with bread and butter.
- Go easy on the seasoning here because the gammon will add a lot of seasoning to the whole soup.
- I've listed the measurement of the stock that you need, but if you have to add a little more water that's completely fine.
- Blending some of the soup will help to thicken it and give it a very hearty and thick texture.
- For the cavalo nero, it's only usually available November to February, so use kale instead. And the measurement is an approximation. I usually go for a large handful and add a little bit more if needed.
Some really helpful food safety tips are listed below, including what temperature to cook the gammon to.
- Cook gammon to a minimum temperature of 71 °C
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
See more guidelines at Food.gov.uk.