Spicy Lentil And Pancetta Soup

Spicy Lentil And Pancetta Soup

Red Lentils may not be fashionable at the moment but this Spicy Lentil and Pancetta Soup Recipe will make you wonder why. It is quick, easy and perfect for chilly, damp autumnal days when you want something to warm you from the inside out.

If you prefer a thick, smooth soup rather than a chunky one there is no reason why you cannot blend this when it is finished, and then sprinkle on the crispy Pancetta just to finish it off. On balance I prefer to leave this one ‘as is’ and to serve it with some good seeded wholemeal bread to make a really satisfying lunch. You could also use the Bacon and Cheese Loaf with it as well.

Most Red Lentil soups tend to be ‘curried’ but this one is spicy and still allows all the other ingredients to shine. The quantity of Spices and Chili can be adjusted to your taste but don’t put in any other seasoning until the soup is finished. It is doubtful that you will need any Salt as the Pancetta and Stock will probably provide enough. You might like a touch of Black Pepper but I have never found it necessary. Watch the amount of chili you put in as it can overpower the more subtle spices if you are too heavy handed with it – unless that is how you like it!

I think of this as a ‘store cupboard’ soup as most of us will have the ingredients on hand. It is rare that I don’t have some Pancetta or Bacon lurking, and the other ingredients are staples in my kitchen. You can use Bacon rather than Pancetta if that is what you have, just chop it into small pieces and it will work fine. I prefer the stronger flavour of the Pancetta as it stand up to the spices, but it is a matter of personal taste and what is in the fridge.


  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 200 gms Pancetta chopped into small pieces
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 large Carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground Cumin
  • ½ tsp Turmeric
  • 1 Chili, chopped finely
  • 300 gms/ 10 ozs Red Lentils
  • 1.5 litres / 2.5 pints vegetable stock


Step 1

Heat the Olive Oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion and half the Pancetta

Step 2

When the Onion has softened add the diced carrot and continue to cook for two or three minutes

Step 3

Add the spices, Chili and Garlic and cook for a minute or so until the spices are releasing their aromas but do not allow them to burn

Step 4

Add the Stock and bring to boil

Step 5

Add the Lentils and bring to a slow simmer

Step 6

Cook until the Lentils are soft but not mushy - about 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the lentils do not burn onto the pan

Step 7

Put the rest of the Pancetta into a hot frying pan and cook until crisp then drain on kitchen paper

Step 8

Put the Soup into bowls and sprinkle the crisp Pancetta on top

Step 9


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Comment (1)

  1. posted by Elanor on December 10, 2013

    I absolutely love this soup, it freezes pretty well too.


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