This Slow Cooker Lentil Soup is a hearty, nutritious, and easy-to-make meal that’s perfect for chilly days or any time you’re craving something comforting. The recipe also includes instructions for making this soup on the stove.
We keep our slow cooker humming during the fall and winter. It is essential in keeping us well-fed with various soups, stews, and chilis. This easy Slow Cooker Lentil Soup Recipe has a deep flavor from smoky paprika and cumin, browned tomato paste, and sauteed aromatics. But not only is it delicious and filling, but it is also economical and easy to make! That’s four for four!
Why You’ll Love This Easy Lentil Soup
- Nutrition: Lentils are a fantastic source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, making this soup not only satisfying but also incredibly healthy.
- Ease of Preparation: The crockpot does most of the work, allowing you to enjoy a delicious meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
- Versatility: This soup is easily adaptable to your taste or dietary needs.
- Comforting: It’s the perfect warm, comforting bowl of goodness for cold days or when you need a bit of comfort food.
Ingredients in this Slow Cooker Lentil Soup
- Dried Green Lentils are a great protein, fiber, and mineral source. They have a mild, earthy flavor which is what you want in this soup. Rinse and drain them before use to remove any dust or debris.
- Olive Oil: Used for sautéing the vegetables, it adds a subtle flavor and helps caramelize the onions, celery, and carrots.
- Aromatics and Vegetables: Onions, celery, carrots, and garlic form the flavor base of the soup.
- Tomato Paste: Adds depth and a concentrated tomato flavor that enriches the soup.
- Broth: You can use chicken or vegetable broth, depending on your dietary preference. Vegetable broth will make this soup vegetarian/vegan.
- Seasonings: Soy sauce, smoked paprika, ground cumin, bay leaves, salt, and black pepper add layers of flavor.
- Acid: Vinegar (apple cider or red wine) is added at the end to brighten the flavors.
- Lentils: You can use brown instead of green in this Crock Pot Lentil Soup, though cooking times may vary slightly. You could also use French Green lentils (Puy lentils) but know that they hold their shape more than the other two, so you will end up with a brothier soup with little green lentils throughout.
- Broth: Swap chicken broth for vegetable broth to make it vegetarian or vegan.
- Vinegar: If you don’t have apple cider or red wine vinegar, lemon juice is a good substitute.
- Seasonings: Feel free to adjust the spices and herbs according to your preference. Consider adding a few red pepper flakes if you like a spicier soup.
Tips for Success with this Slow Cooker Lentil Soup
- Sautéing Vegetables: Taking the time to sauté the vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker deepens the flavors of the soup. It adds about 30 minutes to the prep time, but it is worth it! You can do that part ahead of time, the night before, if you need to.
- Deglazing: Make sure to deglaze the pan with broth after browning the tomato paste to incorporate all those flavorful bits into the soup.
- Cooking Time: Cooking on low heat for a longer period helps develop the flavors better, but if short on time, the high setting works well, too.
- Final Adjustments: Taste the soup before serving and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Adding vinegar at the end helps to balance and brighten the flavors.
Making this Soup
Slow Cooker Lentil Soup Frequently Asked Questions
No, lentils do not require soaking before cooking, especially in a slow cooker where they have plenty of time to become tender.
Absolutely. Consider browning diced bacon and using that grease to saute the aromatics. You could also add diced ham, sliced kielbasa, or even cooked chicken at the end of cooking to add extra flavor and protein.
Yes, this soup can be adapted for the stovetop. After sautéing the vegetables and deglazing the pan, add all the ingredients to a large pot, bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer until the lentils are tender, typically 35-45 minutes.
While dried lentils are preferred for their texture and flavor after slow cooking, canned lentils can be used in a pinch. Be sure to reduce the cooking time since they are already cooked.
Yes, this Crockpot Lentil Soup soup freezes well. Cool it completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers. It can be stored for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove or microwave.
Food Storage Favorite
I’ve been using Freezer Storage Cubes and Freezer Pods for years! We use the 1 cup, the 1/2 cup, and the 2 tablespoon trays.
The 1 cup is perfect for lunch portions of soup and chili, as well as beans for meals.
The 1/2 cup size is great for freezing buttermilk and cream. We also portion out 1/2 cup portions of our seasoned meat for our weekly nachos.
The 2-tablespoon trays are a great size for tomato paste and chipotle in adobo.
Looking for More Slow Cooker Recipes?
I’ve gotcha! As I said, we rely heavily on our crockpot, so we have a few recipes!
Slow Cooker Lentil Soup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions diced
- 3 celery stalks diced
- 3 large carrots diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 pound dried green lentils rinsed and drained
- 8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 15 ounce diced tomato
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp vinegar apple cider or red wine vinegar
- Add oil to large skillet and heat on medium
- Add diced onions, celery, and carrots and sauté for 10-15 minutes until onions are just barely beginning to brown.
- Add garlic and continue to sauté for 1 minute.
- Move onion mixture to the sides and add tomato paste. Let it cook for 5 minutes to brown. Stir the tomato paste to prevent it from burning.
- Add lentils, broth, diced tomatoes, soy sauce, smoked paprika, cumin and bay leaf to crock pot.
- Add onion/tomato paste mixture. Use some of the broth to deglaze any brown bits in the pan and add back to the crock pot.
- Set slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- When the lentils are tender, the soup is done. Add vinegar and stir.
- You can use an immersion blender if desired to puree some of the soup.
- Serve with diced fresh parsley and/or grated parmesan cheese.
- Sauté the Vegetables: In a large pot, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté for about 10-15 minutes until the onions begin to brown. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Brown the Tomato Paste: Move the sautéed vegetables to the sides of the pot, creating a space in the center. Add two tablespoons of tomato paste to the center of the pot. Let it cook and brown for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Deglaze: Add a small amount of the 8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth to deglaze the pot, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. This process adds a depth of flavor to the soup.
- Add Remaining Ingredients: Add the rinsed lentils, the rest of the broth, diced tomatoes (with their juice), soy sauce, smoked paprika, ground cumin, bay leaves, salt, and ground black pepper to the pot. Stir well to combine.
- Simmer: Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for about 35-45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, and add more broth or water if the soup becomes thicker than you like.
- Final Touches: Once the lentils are fully cooked, remove the bay leaves and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (apple cider or red wine). Stir well and taste for seasoning, adjusting salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve: Optionally, you can use an immersion blender to puree part of the soup for a creamier texture. Serve the soup hot, garnished with fresh parsley and/or grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
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