Many traditional Spanish dishes include pulses from lentils to all sorts of small or flat or large beans, chickpeas, rice etc. Visitors to Spanish restuarants will often see lentils (lentejas) offered as a first dish of a set menu del dia, and it is a filling, nutritious and delicious dish. Vegetarians beware - Spanish lentil soup usually contains chorizo and ham. This recipe for lentil soup does too, but we suggest a vegetarian version in tips and ideas at the bottom.

Basic ingredients

  • 250 gr. lentils

  • 1 chorizo (or a few slices if you can't get a small sausage-shaped one)

  • 100 gr. serrano ham

  • 1 large onion

  • 1 small glass of red wine

  • 2 cloves (optional)

  • 1 red pepper (optional)

  • Half a small glass of olive oil

  • 1 bayleaf

  • 2 large carrots

  • 3 small potatoes

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 pinch of saffron

  • fresh parsley

  • salt and pepper


  1. Soak the lentils for half an hour. Even though small lentils in packets usually don't need soaking, Spanish women tend to soak anyway

  2. Cut the ham and chorizo into dice-shaped pieces. Peel and wash the carrots and potatoes. Slice the carrots and halve the potatoes (unless they are very small). Wash and slice a small red pepper (optional).

  3. Drain the lentils and put them in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover them and add the ham, chorizo, carrots, potatoes, bayleaf, pepper, parsley, a little salt, saffron and wine. Also add the cloves if you want the lentils to have a slightly spicey air to them. Put the pan over a low heat and cover.

  4. Slice the onion and garlic and fry, stirring all the time. After a minute or so, add the sliced red pepper. This is optional and adds a slightly sweet flavour to the lentejas. When soft, add to the other ingredients in the saucepan.

  5. Let the lentil stew simmer for at least 40 minutes. Boil off any excess liquid at the end.