A simple, hearty red lentil and smoky bacon soup that is perfect for the cooler weather. It can be made ahead and freezes well, so double the recipe and stock the freezer. I guarantee that even the fussiest of eaters will love this one.
Total Time Investment: 50 Minutes
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I once read that it takes twenty attempts to get a child to accept a new food. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will be well aware that when it comes to serving soup to The Princess, I am probably way past those twenty attempts. She truly dislikes smooth soups, will tolerate soup with bits, and I have even resorted to offering ‘bribes’ on the side to get her to eat her dinner. So when she not only finished a bowl of this red lentil and smoky bacon soup, but followed that with the admission that “it wasn’t too bad”, I was pretty darn happy.
Mr Grumpy is slightly fixated on smoking his own food at the moment, which I think is just a cover so he can play with fire. Every time he sets the smoker up he fills the house with smoke, which does not endear him to me at all. However he is, on occasion, producing some nicely smoked food, so I suppose he can be forgiven. I used a small piece of his smoked bacon for this recipe, which added some great flavour to the soup. And whilst I am not suggesting that you should smoke your own bacon in order to get dinner on the table, if you do happen to come across some smoked bacon definitely snap it up to use in this recipe.
Ingredient Substitutions for Red Lentil & Smoky Bacon Soup
The smoky bacon is the key ingredient to this bacon soup, so use the best you can find. However, you could also use some finely chopped pancetta or ham in place of the bacon if preferred.
Moong dahl or urad dahl could be substituted for the red lentils if necessary. Both of these will break down into the soup in a similar manner to the red lentils, although the colour of the finished soup will obviously be different.
Use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.A simple, hearty red lentil & smoky #bacon #soup, perfect for the cooler weather. It can be made ahead & #freezes well, so double the recipe & stock the freezer. Click To Tweet
This soup can also be turned into a hearty vegetarian supper. Omit the bacon from the recipe, and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock. Saute a teaspoon (or more) of smoked paprika with the vegetables. The smoked paprika will add a nice smoky flavour to the dish, and if you use hot smoked paprika it will add a slight chilli kick at the same time.
Tips & Tricks For A Delicious Red Lentil & Smoky Bacon Soup
Red lentils do not require soaking and cook quite quickly, making this bacon soup a great weeknight standby as dinner can be on the table within the hour.
My red lentil and smoky bacon soup can easily be made in advance, and just reheated prior to serving. The soup will thicken slightly on standing, so just add a splash of water or chicken stock to loosen the soup as you reheat it.
It also freezes very well, although as with making the soup ahead, it will thicken on standing so just loosen it with stock or water as you reheat it.
The lentils can be rinsed prior to cooking, if you remember. I always forget this step, and the soup still tastes great.
I am aware that lentils can be a polarising dish in some families, and to get around that I like to cook this bacon soup until the lentils start to collapse into the stock. That way they can’t be picked out at the dinner table.
Made this recipe? Tell me how it went in the comments below. And if you loved it, please don’t forget to rate it.
Red Lentil & Smoky Bacon Soup
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 150 g (5 oz) smoky bacon cut into small pieces
- 1 medium carrot sliced
- 1 celery stick sliced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 400 g (14 oz) tin of crushed tomatoes
- 200 g (1 cup) red lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 L (4 cups) chicken stock
- Salt & pepper
- Place a large saucepan or soup pot over a medium heat, and add the olive oil.
- Add the onion to the pot, and saute for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
- Add the bacon and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the fat starts to release and the bacon is browned. I like scrape the onion to one side in the pot as I find the bacon browns better this way. You can also remove the onion from the pot whilst browning the bacon if you prefer.
- Add the carrot and celery to the onion mixture and saute for 3 - 5 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, red lentils, bay leaf and thyme sprig
- Pour the chicken stock into the pot, ensuring the ingredients are well covered.
- Bring the soup to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils have softened and are starting to collapse.
- Check the seasoning, and add salt & pepper if required. Some bacon is quite salty and you may not need to add additional salt.
- Serve with loads of crusty bread.
P.S. You might also like to try these Savoury Feta & Olive Muffins. They are great with soup.