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.
Last Updated: 19th February 2019
Total Time Investment: 50 Minutes
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.
Despite The Princess’s dislike of soup, it finds its way onto our dinner table at least once a week during the winter months. Soup is so easy to make, and most of them freeze brilliantly, so to me they are the perfect meal for busy weeknights. In winter, my freezer is packed with a variety of soups, and I am so passionate about freezing soup I have written a whole post on my process. I have also produced a quick guide summarising the most important tips. The guide is in my Resource Library, and you can grab your own copy by clicking the link below or by requesting the password at the end of this post.
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 bacon soup recipe.
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Ingredient Substitutions for Red Lentil & Smoky Bacon Soup
You can make a few easy substitutions to this bacon soup recipe and still end up with a delicious meal. Simply use the ingredients that you have on hand:
- Smoky bacon is the key flavour ingredient in this bacon soup, so use the best you can find. If you cannot find smoky bacon, cook normal bacon and add a teaspoon of smoked paprika in the last minute of cooking.
- The bacon can be replaced with finely chopped pancetta or ham, although I would again add a teaspoon of smoked paprika if I was going this route.
- 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.
- Vegetable stock can be used in place of the chicken stock.
- Replace the tin of tomatoes with 1 1/2 cups of tomato passata, or use 2 tablespoons of tomato concentrate and an extra cup of chicken stock.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bacon Soup Recipes
Can I make bacon soup in the slow cooker?
This red lentil and bacon soup will cook brilliantly in the slow cooker. As the lentils need to break down into the soup, I would cook the soup in the slow cooker for a full 8 hours. Simply saute the ingredients in a fry pan and transfer the sauteed bacon and vegetables to the slow cooker. Rinse the fry pan with some of the stock and pour that into the slow cooker. Add the remainder of the ingredients to the slow cooker insert and cook for 8 hours on low.
To maximise the flavour of the soup, follow my easy tips for making the best slow cooker meals.
Can I make bacon soup in the Thermomix?
This bacon soup recipe could easily be adapted to the Thermomix or any other thermal mixer. Simply follow a similar soup recipe in the Everyday Cookbook to adapt the recipe properly.
Can I freeze bacon soup?
My red lentil and bacon soup freezes brilliantly and if frozen correctly will last in the freezer for up to four months. Follow the steps outlined in my how to freeze soup post to maximise your freezer storage time. And make sure you grab my easy freezing guide at the end of the post.
Can you reheat bacon soup?
This red lentil and bacon soup can be reheated quite successfully. Be aware that the soup will thicken on standing, so it may be necessary to add a splash of stock or hot water to thin the soup out as it reheats. Make sure you stir the pot frequently whilst reheating to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
This bacon soup can also be reheated in the microwave.
Tips & Tricks For A Delicious Red Lentil & Smoky Bacon Soup
I love this soup, and make it often during the winter months. So let me pass on a few tips to ensure your success:
- Red lentils do not require soaking and cook quite quickly, making this easy bacon soup recipe a great weeknight standby. I can have dinner on the table within the hour when I put this soup on the menu.
- You can easily make this soup in advance, and just reheat it prior to serving. The soup will thicken slightly on standing thanks to the lentils. Simply add a splash of water or chicken stock to the pot to loosen the soup as you reheat it.
- The soup also freezes very well. See my tips above.
- 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.
- Turn my bacon soup recipe into a hearty vegetarian supper by omitting the bacon from the recipe, and replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock. Then 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.
- The soup will last for up to three days in the fridge and up to four months in the freezer.
- I like to serve this soup with loads of crusty bread and butter, or savoury feta muffins.
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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.
- Red lentils do not require soaking and cook quite quickly so this easy bacon soup can be on the table within the hour.
- The soup can be made in advance, and reheated prior to serving. It will thicken slightly on standing so add a splash of water or chicken stock to the pot to loosen the soup as you reheat it.
- Rinse the lentils prior to cooking, if you remember. I always forget this step, and the soup still tastes great.
- I like to cook the soup until the lentils start to collapse into the stock. That way they can’t be picked out at the dinner table.
- The soup will last for up to three days in the fridge and up to four months in the freezer.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on 7th June 2015. It was updated on 29th January 2018 to include nutritional information. It was updated again on 19th February 2019 to include FAQ’s, freezing information, and to improve the readability of the post.
Hi Tania. My favourite soups have beans/peas and ham in them. This one sure fits the bill.
I love pea & ham soup too Glenda, so you should like this too. We do 🙂
Liz Posmyk (Good Things)
Ah lentils, delicious! I grew up on those. Yummy recipe Tania xx
Thanks Liz. I do love lentils. They are so versatile.
What about the recipe for those incredible looking scones in the photo??
😀 Those are my Savoury Feta & Olive Muffins Liz. They go really well with the soup.
Great recipe!! I doubled it and added more carrots and celery (not quite twice as much as called for), and about twice the garlic. DELICIOUS. Adding it to my recipe box. It was a hit with two toddlers, as well!
Don’t you love it when you find a recipe the kids will eat. I’m so glad your family enjoyed it. It is a favourite here as well.