A classic Scottish lentil broth recipe. Simple, satisfying comfort food.
I’m not quite sure how lentil soup became a Scottish classic. Afterall, non of the fifty or more lentil varieties are a native Scottish crop.
My best guess is that red lentils replaced peas in traditional broths. Not the sweet garden variety of pea, but peas left in the pods to mature and dry. Once dried peas were a valuable source of winter nutrition, especially protein, for medieval Scottish farmers. Then centuries later, cheap imported red lentils displaced homegrown peas as the pulse of choice for broth.
A classic lentil broth is made with ham stock. So if I’m cooking a ham, I always keep cooking liqueur and make lentil soup. And leftover ends of ham, chopped or shredded, make a great garnish for the finished soup.
If you don’t have ham stock, water and stock cubes work. Just avoid the overpowering ham variety and use chicken or vegetable instead. Adding some diced bacon or lardons in with the chopped vegetables will add a little ham flavour if you want it. For more tips on how to make this and other broth recipes, as well as how to make your own original soups, read this article.
My preference is for a thick lentil soup that’s a meal in itself. A broth that “sticks to your ribs” as my grandfather would say. But don’t be shy. Add more liquid if you prefer a lighter soup.
Four generations of my family that I know of have been raised on this healthy Scottish classic. This recipe is just my version.
Traditional Scottish Lentil Soup
- 2 medium onions diced
- 2 medium leeks diced
- 4 medium carrots diced
- 4 sticks celery diced
- 125 grams butter
- 500 grams red lentils
- 2½ litres ham stock (or water and stock cubes)
- 50 grams lardons (optional)
- If you're using lardons cook them in your pan without any oil until they release all their fat
- Melt the butter in the pan. (Reduce the amount of butter to compensate for the extra lardon fat, if necessary)
- Over a low heat, soften the vegetables in the butter (and lardon fat)
- Add the ham stock and bring it to the boil
- Pour in the lentils
- Return to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 1-1½ hours
- The longer you cook your soup the more the lentils will breakdown and thicken it
Hi, I’m Ralph
I’m an Associate Registered Nutritionist with over 25 years’ experience as a professional chef.
My passion is helping individuals gain control of their diet to achieve food freedom and health in today’s broken nutrition environment.
I’m based in Edinburgh and provide 1-2-1 online nutrition coaching and support across the U.K.