Ham and Lentil Soup (Instant Pot & Slow Cooker)


If you’re wondering what to do with your leftover Christmas ham, I have the answer! THIS: Ham and Lentil Soup.

Ham and Lentil Soup by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

The most delicious soup made with melt-in-your-mouth red lentils and ham! Topped with crispy bits of ham on top – this is going to be your go-to soup this holiday season.


We decided that since this was Tony’s FIRST CHRISTMAS that we would host a Christmas party! After the party, we had a good amount of ham leftover, which was awesome because the truth is that I like ham better as an ingredient in a recipe than on its own. The leftover hambone is worth more to me than the meat itself – it imparts SO much flavor in soup!

I know lentils never really look very appetizing but anyone who has tried them knows how tasty they are. This soup is comforting and filling and the perfect dish to enjoy around the holidays. It makes A LOT of soup too, which is great for those hosting family or for those looking to stash the freezer with tasty leftovers.

Fry up some chopped pieces of ham and top your soup with them – it makes this “nice” dish feel “naughty.” Yes, I definitely just called ham soup “naughty.” I don’t even know… just trust me and try it!

Ham and Lentil Soup by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

This Christmas has been a really special one for my family because… we have a little baby in the house! Our little guy isn’t even three months old yet but he has made this Christmas so much fun for us. We put up more decorations this year both inside and outside the house (love these solar power outdoor Christmas lights!). And we decided to have our very first Christmas party, which will hopefully now be an annual event! We invited all of our Pittsburgh friends, and we all crammed into our tiny cozy living room and had a blast. We played Christmas music, served mulled wine and hot chocolate in my two Instant Pots (so people could serve themselves), and catered most of the food (because #newmom). I had my husband dress up as Santa Claus!

Here’s a picture of the three of us from our party:

Baby Tony loved meeting Santa! Well, actually, at first, he pulled on Santa’s beard – probably to make sure he was the real deal. But once he confirmed that Santa was legit, he decided the two of them were cool.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and we wish you all the best this holiday season!!

For more leftover ham recipes, you might like:

Need to make a ham first? Here’s my recipe for ham with a spiced honey glaze (instant pot).

Ham and Lentil Soup by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

Ham & Lentil Soup (Instant Pot & Slow Cooker)

Ham and Lentil Soup by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

Ham & Lentil Soup (Instant Pot & Slow Cooker)

4.84 from 25 reviews
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  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 onions diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 1 pound red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper adjust to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste


Instant Pot Directions

  • Press the sauté button on the Instant Pot, and add the oil, onions, celery, carrots and garlic to the pot. Stir-fry for 5 minutes. (This is an optional step. You can dump everything in at once if you want).
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the pot.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 35 minutes at high pressure.
  • Allow the pressure to release naturally.
  • Remove the ham bone from the pot. Once cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and put it back in the pot.
  • Serve the soup with fried pieces of chopped ham (make sure you do this! It takes the soup to another level!).

Slow Cooker Directions

  • Add everything to the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Serve the soup with fried pieces of chopped ham (make sure you do this! It takes the soup to another level!).


  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve the soup with fried pieces of chopped ham (make sure you do this! It takes the soup to another level!).
  • If reheating, thin the soup out with water or broth.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Deb says

    5 stars
    Delicious! I only had cubed leftover black forest ham, so I used chicken stock instead of water to make up for flavor lost by not having a ham bone. Also did not add salt and used a smaller amount of dried thyme instead of fresh. Thickens up and tastes even better the next day.

  2. Darin Diehl says

    5 stars
    I made this as my first meal in our new Instapot. So delicious. Really pleased with the texture and how well the flavours combine.

  3. Patty says

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe! I used other lentil I didn’t have any red. And I topped with extra crispy bacon I forgot to take ham off the meaty bone. This soup was gone in less than an hour, for three people.

  4. Stephanie Crum says

    I couldn’t find red lentils and had green ones in my pantry so I am currently making this in my crockpot with green lentils. I’m hoping it comes out tasty with this substitution.

  5. Val says

    4 stars
    Very hearty soup! Perfect for a winter dinner. I substituted half of the water with chicken stock. The cayenne pepper does make a big difference – I omitted it so my daughter would eat it during cooking but added some to my portion and it really does elevate the flavors.

  6. Tesscod says

    5 stars
    This was so flavourful! I made it in the Instant Pot and used Better than Bouillon vegetable stock and omitted the cayenne. You were absolutely right about the crispy ham. Delicious soup and I will definitely make this again.

  7. Dan McAuliffe says

    4 stars
    We just made this tonight and are eating it as I type.

    On the plus side, the consistency is excellent and the flavors are great. I am shocked, however, as to the level of heat provided by the cayenne. It’s INCREDIBLY spicy. With just a 1/4 tsp of cayenne I am surprised by its dominance.

    Is that consistent with other’s experiences?

  8. Tri says

    5 stars
    Love this recipe. The only thing I changed was using my stick blender to smooth it out. This makes recipe number 2 of yours that I love!

  9. Julie says

    5 stars
    I had a lot of left over ham so I decided to do a taste test. I made a batch in the instant pot and one in the slow cooker. They tasted the same but sure liked it being done in 1 hour vs 8. Both were excellent! Planning on taking some to work to share at lunch. What do you think about freezing some?

  10. Dayton says

    5 stars
    I subbed low sodium chicken broth for water and used some poultry seasoning instead of thyme (I was out). I also added 2 tsp of Spanish paprika. This was by far the best soup I have ever made. Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Jack says

    Great recipe, but the cooking time seems way off. I set my instant pot for 15 minutes at high pressure and then let the pressure release naturally (about 30 minutes) and it came out perfect. 🙂

  12. Vicki says

    5 stars
    This is so delicious and easy!! I can think of so many uses for the fried ham bits – this is a game changer. My husband loves it too, so this one is definitely going into the rotation.

  13. Theresa says

    5 stars
    This is a very good and easy recipe. Just made it and the addition of the cayenne to the recipe is amazing and takes the spice level so much higher. Additionally, this is the first time when making lentil soup that the lentils did not turn to mush. This is a keeper!

  14. LkM says

    5 stars
    I made this today and am eating it right now and it’s really good! I’m so happy I finally found use for the baggies of red lentils that have been in my pantry forever!

    My leftover ham did not include a ham bone so I used chicken stock as liquid (instead of water as stated in recipe) to give it some flavor and I also put in about 1.5 cups of chopped up ham in the soup to cook with all the vegetables, once again, to give the soup flavor to make up for the missing ham bone.

    I had a less lentils than stated (probably half a pound) in the recipe therefore put in less broth – probably just 6 cups max. I kept the quantities of vegetables the same because I love vegetables. Since I used a chopper the vegetables were chopped up small so I only sauteed for a couple minutes and then set pressure cook time to 30 minutes. I didn’t want to overcook the ham.
    It turned out great! Plenty of flavor and that kick from cayenne added to it. The fried ham definitely added to the flavor but for the second bowl I didn’t even bother, it was good in and of itself especially with the ham in the soup that I added. Thanks for the recipe! I’m new to this site (this recipe brought me here) and now I’ll have to look around to see what else I might want to try from here. I do love beets so you may have similar taste buds to mine. 🙂

  15. JT says

    3 stars
    made this tonight. Not impressed lentils turned to mush and the soup was very thin and bland. I simmered it down to half and put it in the blender. Added fried ham. My husband said it was just ok. This really needs some acid or zest. Something to brighten up the flavor.

      • Marcia Davidson says

        5 stars
        Hearty, delicious, a keeper, could become legendary. Kept it on warm when done and had a bowl for lunch and again at supper! Had taken our left over spiral hambone and cooked in Dutch oven on stove for a few hours. Removed ham bone. Put broth outside overnight (Wisconson winter)to let fat rise to the top and skimmed off next day. Not much meat left on bone so fried up bacon and crumbled in. Added a can of coconut milk, a few extra carrots. My new favourite!

  16. Eric says

    Love your recipes! I would love to try making this but I cannot find “Meaty Ham Bone” at my grocery store. Is there a certain approximate amount of ham meat you recommend I use? Congratulations on the birth of your child…I am sure you are busy!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Eric, thank you! I use a leftover ham bone – the next time you buy a ham, just save the bone! The flavor mostly comes from the bone so it can have as much or as little meat as you’d like on it.

    • Julielyn says

      For anything like this, I always look for a Ham Hock. They’re not always readily available, but definitely, ask your butcher or grocery store meat cutter about them.

      I found a great local butcher and order four of them at a time. They aren’t too big and are just fine to freeze until you need them.

  17. debrazgalaxy says

    5 stars
    YUM. Excellent flavor! I altered it a bit due to lack of Thyme or tomato paste-
    Excellent instructions especially for a newbie like me to make. Thank you.

  18. Ananth says

    5 stars
    Had a chance to try this tonight. If I had one word to describe this recipe it would be “hearty”….and if I had three words to describe this recipe it would be “really darn tasty”. The chunks of ham are critical in my opinion and certainly are delicious when fried beforehand as suggested. The salty-sweet ham chunks enveloped by the creamy lentil soup is a wonderful interplay of flavor. Certainly an excellent dish for a winter lunch or dinner.

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