Lentil Pheasant Soup

33 Comments

Years ago, this soup recipe was my first exposure to lentils, and I’ve been in love with them ever since. The pheasant I used was some that my husband brought home after a hunting trip. I can’t give any credit for this recipe, it’s that old. But I’ve been making it for a long time, and it’s still a keeper.

Pheasant isn’t terribly popular as a protein, mostly because it can easily be overcooked. But in this soup it stays nice and tender. You can substitute chicken if necessary.

If you’re in the mood for a laugh, I wrote a post about discovering my husband was a hunter after we were married.

To make this soup recipe for the blog, I purchased whole pheasants from D’Artagnan. I guess the local Oklahoma birds have been hiding in the fields these days.

Make sure you don’t use “grocery store” lentils when you make this, because they will become overcooked and mushy. If that’s all you can find, omit the last 15 minutes of cooking.

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Lentil Pheasant Soup

1 pheasant, 1 1/2 – 2 pounds, quartered, backbone removed and reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 carrots, cut into 1/2” dice
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2” dice
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2” dice
1 medium parsnip, peeled, cut into 1/4” dice
3 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
4 cups pheasant or chicken broth
3 cups drained and crushed canned plum tomatoes
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
6 tablespoons Italian parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground white pepper
Sour cream, optional

Place the backbone and wings in a large pot with water, and make a quick broth, which only takes about 20 minutes. Include some onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, and celery leaves. Or, substitute chicken broth.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a soup pot. Add the carrots, onions, celery, parsnip and garlic. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes to wilt vegetables.

Season the pheasant legs and breasts with salt and pepper.

To the soup pot, when the vegetables have wilted, add the tomatoes, lentils, and pheasant legs. To add the pheasant stock, I measured from the pot in which I made the broth, and poured it through a strainer.

Stir well, and simmer the soup, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Add pheasant breasts and simmer another 15 minutes.


Remove legs and breasts; reserve and let cool. Also let the backbone and wings cool so the meat can be removed from the bones for the soup.

Cook the soup, completely covered, for another 15 minutes, over the lowest heat. Give the soup a stir and make sure you like the consistency. Adjust with more broth if necessary. Season with parsley, thyme, salt, and white pepper.

During the final simmer, remove skin from the pheasant parts and chop or slice the meat. Add to the soup and stir to combine.

Serve immediately.

I love serving this soup with sour cream.

It’s just nice with the tomato-rich lentils, and the pheasant.

This soup freezes well, so don’t hesitate to make a double batch! If you were paying attention, I used two birds for this recipe, and doubled the ingredients.

33 thoughts on “Lentil Pheasant Soup

  1. Thank you Mimi! It has been 20 years since we have enjoyed a pheasant dinner. Tomatoes and lentils make this a delicious meal. Did you clean this one yourself or did the hubby do this for you? Take Care and stay well.

    • Well these I ordered online, cause my husband hasn’t been hunting lately. Some years there are lots of pheasants, some years not so much, from what i understand. At least with raised pheasants, you don’t have to worry about the buckshot. but no, I don’t clean them.

  2. It is really a beautiful dish. Few years ago I had to clean the birdie myself and gave up, sad to say :-( so before I even start to think about making this beauty I have to find pheasant already cleaned for me; if not, I’ll use chicken, same as Kath :-)

  3. As Virginia Woolf said, “Soup is cuisines kindest course”. A wonderful recipe and I love you used parsnips in it. I’ll tuck this one away for next years pheasant hunting season.

    • Interesting. I’ve never heard that! Regarding the parsnips, which I love, I couldn’t find them at my store, so I subbed potatoes.

  4. Looks delicious! It’s similar to a soup a friend of mine made once, back when we were in college. I’d never had a soup like it, and I still remember it to this day. You have the best recipes on your blog!

  5. I can’t imagine myself with a pheasant that needs cooking anytime soon. I’ll have to see if I can find them in the grocery store. I would be very interested in trying this with chicken, though! It looks delicious!

    • It is more about the lentil soup part, in all honestly. I love the tomatoes in it, and the seasoning. It would be great with chicken.

      • Well, there’s plenty of soup season left … spring is only hinting at arriving in where I live. And I’ve got lentils in the cupboard and a chicken in the freezer, so this is in my future!

      • Here, too. It got down to 26 a couple nights ago. Spring is springing, though, so I’ll be out of my soup rut fairly soon I think!

  6. Looks lovely, Mimi! I grew up on lentils but I’ve only had pheasant maybe two or three times in my life, all during my Italy days. It’s been years! Does your husband ship?

  7. The husband of a friend of mine regularly goes out shooting here in Scotland. Years ago she gave me one of her husbands pheasants he’d shot. That was my first and last experience of gutting a pheasant. LOL! But not my last experience of eating pheasant as I love it. And with lentils, as a lentil soup I know I would love this! Yum!

    • Oh, goodness, at least my husband does that for me! Don’t you have to pluck them too? Yikes 😬 This is a fabulous soup, whether it’s with pheasant or chicken.

  8. Sounds gourmet, homey, comforting and exotic at the same time. I would have to try it with chicken…. :) Stay safe and healthy!

  9. Gosh, I have one pheasant left in the freezer and two pheasant recipes to try! What’s a boy to do? This one is really tempting — especially now when we need lots of comfort food!

    • To be honest, this is really good, but it is mostly the soup that I like. It’s nice and tomato-ey and seasoned with thyme. You could try it with chicken or just make the soup itself.

  10. I’ve only had pheasant a couple of times and remember liking it. The recipes sounds wonderful. So comforting — perfect for these times we’re in. I also looked at the post about discovering your husband was a hunter. Cute. :-) ~Valentina

    • He might has well have told me he was a serial killer!!! But I’m better now! The soup itself is really good. I love this recipe.

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