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 (along with a regular Lentil Soup version). All 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!
- 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 Sautéed 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.
Join today and start saving your favorite recipes
Create an account to easily save your favorite recipes and access FREE meal plans.Sign Me Up
I made this recepie. I used ham, and skipped the vinegar and sugar. It was delicious !
Hi Gloria! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
I cannot rate the recipe yet but your description of it gets 5 stars! Just recently got a slow cooker and this recipe will be my first try at a soup 🤞
Hope you enjoy it!
Erin, thank you SO much for this incredible recipe. I’ve had it in the slow cooker for about 2 hours now, and my whole house smells like a gourmet restaurant. The little “tastes” I’ve taken are amazing, as well. I’ll freeze a bunch for the coming cold nights here in NH.
Hi Amy! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
I made this today, with slight changes. I used a soup mix of mostly brown lentils, with split peas, rice, and tiny beans. It’s what I had on hand. Added fresh basil, and fresh rosemary, since they’re growing in my kitchen. :) I used “Better Than Bouillon”, veggie base. I don’t measure, so can’t say exactly how much of these additions. I cooked it in the oven @ 250 in a dutch oven for maybe 5-6 hours, since my central heat doesn’t work, and I was freezing here, LOL. The recipe is excellent, it came out great! Thank you so much Erin! It would be pretty hard to mess this recipe up, as I took quite a few liberties, and it still came out wonderful!
Glad it worked out for you Jude!
If I don’t want to pre cook the veggies on the stove top first – can I just throw them in raw to the slow cooker and maybe add the lentils (brown) a little later so they don’t turn to mush? Thank you
Hi Pam! I’ve only tested the recipe as written. If you decide to experiment with those changes, I’d love to know how it goes!
thanks, lots of flavor without cooking meat, it should be a hit at the pot luck
Exactly! Thanks Diana!
This was ok. I felt like it needed something. The vinegar at the end was definitely good, it still needed something else.
I’m sorry this recipe wasn’t to your tastes, Kristen. I (and many other readers) have truly enjoyed it, so I wish you would’ve too!
Very good, and just what I needes for a rainy winter day. I did end up doubling the spices and garlic, but that’s probably because I didn’t have a parmesan rind. If you have meat lovers in the family, would be good with kielbasa or sausage.
Hi Kelly! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
The whole family loved this. I served it with some potatoes and vegan sausage and even my non-vegan children thought it was delicious. My son even asked for the recipe (although he’ll probably add meat to his). I also put some in the freezer for another day and it was even more delicious. Making some again now.
Hi Tracy! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Definitely not my favorite lentil soup. To much tomato for me. Lentils stay hard. I’ve been cooking six hours already and they are still crunchy. This is a big no for me
I’m sorry to hear that you had trouble with the recipe, Kim. The method and timing has worked well for myself (and others) but I know how frustrating it can be to try a new recipe and not have it work out, so I really wish you would’ve enjoyed it!
I have the soup cooking on the stovetop. It smells and looks delicious. I am cooking low sodium for my husband who has kidney disease and I was hoping to see the sodium content in this recipe. I made it as directed without the salt.
Hi Nancy! I stopped including sodium info because it can vary so much depending upon what products you used, and I found a lot of conflicting info online, so ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it because sometimes it wasn’t even in the ballpark. If you’d like to calculate it yourself, there are lots of free tools online (myfitnesspal.com is popular). I hope that helps!
This was a yummy dish for a cold Ohio dinner, especially during Lent. It was good as is and also on top of rice or a baked potato. It would also be good with smoked kielbasa pieces the next time.
Hi Christine! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Load More Comments