Red Lentil soup is a big bowl of warmth and comfort. It’s so easy to make, thick and satisfying with a hearty bite of bacon, and full of healthy veggies.
What is a Neep?
This recipe for Red Lentil Soup calls for what we refer to in Scotland as a Neep. We also call it a turnip, but apparently, we are the only ones. (I learnt this the hard way when I ordered a single turnip with my grocery delivery last week and received something about a sixth of the size I was expecting.)
If you are from other parts of the UK I think you may call it a swede, and in the USA it’s a rutabaga. When I eventually tracked down the actual vegetable I was looking for in my local Lidl, it was conveniently labelled as a King Edward Potato…. who knew a simple root vegetable could cause such confusion?! And if you do fail to find a neep/turnip/swede/rutabaga then you can easily substitute some humble potatoes instead.
Traditional Lentil Soup
I grew up eating lentil soup. Here in Scotland, everybody will tell you their Granny has the best recipe. Honestly, though, I don’t think I’ve ever had a lentil soup that isn’t a delicious bowl of comfort. It’s pretty difficult to get it wrong.
Why Red Lentils?
It’s traditional. And also, red, yellow and orange lentils sold ‘split’ soften much more easily than other types when cooked, making them ideal for soups. You can use any of these orange-hued split varieties in this recipe, but I would avoid using green or brown lentils for this particular dish.
If you want to get really traditional, you can use homemade stock made with ham hock. Obviously the homemade stock is superior, but to be 100% honest, it’s just a bit too much effort for me. It’s cold outside, I want to bundle up and be lazy, so I’m using stock cubes.
Crispy Bacon Topping
The crispy bacon to top off the soup really makes the bowl – it adds a crunchy, salty bite of texture and makes it feel a lot more decadent than a bowl of basic blended veggies. You can cook the bacon whatever way you prefer, but check out this post for my favourite method.
I hope you like this recipe – please leave a rating or comment if you try it!
Red Lentil Soup with Bacon
- Soup Pot
- Stick blender or food processor
- 250 grams red split lentils
- 400 grams carrots – peeled and chopped
- 600 grams turnip/neep/swede/rutabaga – peeled and chopped Whatever it's called where you come from?! You can also substitute potato.
- 2 celery stalks – diced
- 2 white onions -diced
- 2 cloves garlic – diced
- 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut into ½ pieces plus more to garnish – 1-2 slices per bowl
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 litres ham stock made with 3 stock cubes
- Rinse your lentils then place in a bowl and cover with boiled water and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
- After your lentils have soaked, heat the oil in your pot over a medium-high heat and add the bacon. Fry until just starting to crisp, then add the onions.
- When the onions are starting to soften, about 3-5 minutes, add the garlic and the rest of the vegetables and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the bay leaves and lentils, pour over the stock and give everything a good stir.
- Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes – the vegetables should be soft and easily sliced with a fork.
- Pick out the bay leaves and blend the soup – you can either use a stick blender or carefully transfer to a food processor in batches. Leave some chunks if you prefer.
- Season to taste, and serve topped with pieces of crispy cooked bacon, a sprinkle of parsley and an optional crack of black pepper or dash of chilli flakes.
- This soup with keep well in the fridge for 2 days. It also freezes really well.