When’s the last time you tried lentil soup? If your answer was anything other than “I just polished off a bowl!” then it’s time to give this Crockpot Lentil Soup recipe a whirl.
While they might not appear especially riveting sitting in their simple plastic bag, lentils will surprise you.
I like to compare them to the YouTube videos of celebrity musicians playing in subway stations in disguise. Judge them by their appearance only, and you’ll miss a star opportunity.
Humble as it seems, the lentil is a total diva when it comes to nutritional prowess and culinary possibility. Lentils are loaded with vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber. They’re also versatile. Since lentils are mild on their own, you can easily incorporate them into a variety of different dishes. From Indian-inspired recipes like this Curry Lentil Soup and Instant Pot Lentil Curry, to Thai-tastic ones like Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry, this quiet legume is primed to take on bold flavor.
Like any true great, however, lentils don’t have to be showy. Case-in-point: lentil soup.
This Instant Pot Lentil Soup has long been one of my favorite recipes on my site, and it has become a reader favorite too. It’s rich and cozy, earnest but by no means bland. It’s exactly what I crave on a chilly night when I need my dinner to warm me to my bones and to be healthy too.
Since not everyone owns an Instant Pot, I thought it was high time I created a slow cooker version. Both are fantastic. Whichever cooking vessel you choose, rest assured that you are making the best lentil soup recipe.
You can make this soup on a lazy weekend and enjoy the tantalizing smell as it builds in your kitchen, then wafts into the living room and calls everyone to dinner.
Or, you can set it and forget it on a weekday, then return home to a wholesome dinner that’s waiting just for you.
How to Make the Best Healthy Crockpot Lentil Soup
This hearty vegetable lentil soup is flavorful and filling. You can doctor it up with bacon or with ham if you like, but we adore the below vegetarian version just as it is.
- Veggies. The tried-and-true combination of onion, carrots, and celery makes the soup colorful, nutritious, and provides a backbone of flavor.
- Spices. Italian seasoning and smoked paprika are the powerhouse spices. The smoked paprika especially gives the soup complexity.
- Green Lentils. French green lentils are the best choice for this soup. You can also use brown lentils, but I do not recommend red lentils as they are very delicate and won’t hold up to the long cooktime in the crockpot.
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes + Crushed Tomatoes. Fire-roasted tomatoes bring the heat and the crushed tomatoes provide richly flavored liquid for our soup.
- Vegetable Broth. Make sure to use low-sodium broth here to keep this soup from being overly salty.
- Parmesan Rind. A completely optional but AMAZING addition. As the soup warms, the rind releases delicious bursts of Parmesan flavor into the broth.
- Red Wine Vinegar. For balance, brightness, and pop. Don’t skip it!
- Fresh Parsley and Parmesan. My favorite toppings for this lentil soup! If you need to keep the soup dairy free, use nutritional yeast instead.
- Sauté the onion in a large skillet until soft. Add the carrots, celery, and spices. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.
- Add the lentils, tomatoes, and broth to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours.
- Stir in the vinegar and sugar. Serve hot with desired toppings, and ENJOY!
IMPORTANT NOTE: You do not need to cook lentils before adding them to the slow cooker. Raw lentils cook well in the crock pot and will be tender by the time the soup is done. To prepare the lentils, simply rinse them to remove any dirt, then add raw lentils to the slow cooker with the other ingredients.
- Crockpot Lentil Soup with Ham. Add 1 1/2 cups diced cooked ham to the slow cooker with the lentils. Cook as directed.
- Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Bacon. Prepare 1/4 pound Baked Bacon, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Stir almost all the bacon into the slow cooker with the lentils and cook as directed. Top each bowl of soup with remaining bacon pieces.
- Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Sausage. Slice 2 pounds of kielbasa sausage into 1/2-inch pieces, and add the pieces to the slow cooker with the lentils. Cook as directed. To make a healthy spin on this variation, use chicken or turkey sausage.
- Vegan Crockpot Lentil Soup. Use nutritional yeast in place of the Parmesan.
- Gluten Free Lentil Soup. No changes needed! This recipe is naturally gluten free as written.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze Soup
- To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop with a little water or additional broth to thin as needed.
- To Freeze. Place soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Crockpot Lentil Soup
- Bread. My favorite side to pair with soups! This Rosemary Olive Oil Bread, Crock Pot Bread, or a crusty loaf from your favorite bakery would all be tasty.
- Vegetables. Serve your soup with a side of these healthy and delicious Sautéed Brussels Sprouts or Sauteed Cabbage.
- Salad. Winter Salad with Kale and Pomegranate or Winter Slaw would both be great paired with this soup.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Slow Cooker. This one has a “keep warm” function, which helps deter overcooking.
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. This is my most faithful kitchen companion..
- Skillet. Perfect for sautéing veggies in this recipe.
Crockpot Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 4 medium carrots peeled and cut into a ½-inch dice
- 3 stalks celery thinly sliced
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups French green lentils or brown lentils; I do not recommend red lentils, which are more delicate and break down when cooked for a long period
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes 15 ounces
- 1 can crushed tomatoes 15 ounces
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- Parmesan rind optional; add it if you have it
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- For serving: chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high. Once the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook the onion, stirring often, until it is very soft and beginning to nicely brown and break down, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, Italian seasoning, salt, smoked paprika, and pepper. Sauté until the carrots and celery are barely soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.
- To the slow cooker, add the lentils, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and vegetable broth. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the lentils are tender and retain a slight amount of pleasant chew but are not mushy.
- Remove the Parmesan rind (if using). Stir in the red wine vinegar and sugar. If the soup is too thick for your liking, thin with a bit of water or additional broth until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Serve hot with a sprinkle of parsley, Parmesan (if using), and bread for dipping.
- TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop with a little water or additional broth to thin as needed.
- TO FREEZE: Place soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- TO MAKE ON THE STOVETOP: Prepare the recipe in a large Dutch oven on the stove through Step 3. Bring the soup to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook until the lentil are tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout. Enjoy hot.
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