slow cooker lentil soup

I know what you’re thinking. We’re in prime cookie baking season, and all I have for you today is a pot of lentil soup. If you’re like me, though, the balance of getting all the things crossed off your To Do list this month is a little (okay, maybe a lot) overwhelming. Sweets will be in plentiful supply, whether you’re making them, or co-workers are bringing in treats. Real food, the fuel your body needs to keep going when it’s at its busiest, can be more challenging to pull together. And kids need to eat regardless of how busy we mamas are, right? So, that’s why today, on this Monday morning, I’m sharing my recipe for Slow Cooker Lentil Soup. It’s pretty hands off for you, while the slow cooker does all the heavy lifting.

I must confess, only one of my girls likes this soup, but that is no fault of the recipe. She’s simply not a fan of soup, and lentils are apparently as dangerous to her palate as vegetables. I shall not point any fingers here. Still, I have a pretty strict one meal policy, so it’s either eat up and enjoy, just eat up, or have air—it’s free and easy to make yourself!

I’m not a total mean mommy, though. I always serve soup in tandem with some sort of grilled sandwich. On this particular night I made sautéed bell pepper, mushroom & cheddar cheese quesadillas to go with it (yep, left one quesadilla plain for my vegetable-phobic gal). I made this soup with turkey stock since I had a few quarts of it leftover from our Thanksgiving turkey. Feel free to use whatever stock you have available. See ya on the flip side with something sweet and equally yummy tomorrow!

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Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

Serves 10 to 12

Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you. The slow cooker does all the real work here to make this soup. Really, you can use whatever stock you have on hand. Even water would be fine in a pinch since there are aromatics to season it. Be liberal with the salt. You’ll find you need more than you think (especially if you use water). Remember the lentils are uncooked, and unseasoned—give them a helping hand, and don’t skimp on salting the soup properly. If you decide to go lightl-handed on the salt, be sure to taste the soup before serving, so you can adjust (add more), if needed.

The finished soup will be rather brothy. I like to thicken mine up by using my immersion blender to puree half of the soup. It’s super easy—just stick it in the pot, and pulse while using a stirring motion for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

4 carrots, cut in to coins

4 celery stalks, sliced ¼-inch thick

3 small russet potatoes, peel & cubed

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

2 cups (400 grams) uncooked lentils (I use brown and/or French lentils)

6 cups stock (vegetable or chicken, see head note)

6 tablespoons (100 grams) tomato paste

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Pecorino Locatelli cheese, to serve (optional)

Fresh chopped parsley, to serve (optional)

Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, garlic, onion, bay leaves, lentils, stock, and tomato paste to a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the slow cooker on to LOW, and let cook for 7 to 8 hours, until the lentils are tender.


  • Mallory

    This is perfect for this hectic but lovely time of year…a wholesome warming meal while everything else is spinning madly about. Plus, with all the root vegetables in the CSAs and such – the timing couldn’t be better! Hope you all are having a great Christmas season.

  • Barbara

    Love lentil soup; can’t wait to try your version! White potatoes are on my ‘no-no’ list right now, but I don’t see why I can’t use sweet potatoes or even butternut squash :- ). Thanks for sharing!

  • Janice

    Ooooh! This sounds yummy! Right now I’m making gravy, meatballs and sausage to freeze for ravioli on Christmas Eve. The Lentil Soup is on my menu for Wednesday. Perfect. Happy days, everyone. Thank you, Jennie!

    PS Mallory, I like the idea of trying other root vegetables or squash.

  • Beth G from South Jersey

    Jennie! Thanks so much! This is perfect, especially for my vegetarian son! Also, it’s nice & cheap – I’m on slim pickings for the rest of the week. Cannot wait to make this, again you’re the best! And Barbara, love the idea of sweet potatoes instead of white!

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Would you believe that my family does’t like lentils (my mom’s side, which I was raised by). They don’t like any beans, at all. Thank heavens that skipped a generation with me!!!

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Sweet potatoes or butternut squash both sound wonderful, Barbara. Let us know how what you think once you make it.

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Janice—two questions: 1) where should I show up?; and 2) what time? I promise to bring dessert. 🙂

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Love lentils for that very reason. Super nutritious and budget friendly! FYI: this soup gets better each day with reheating, so it’s a triple win. You can even toss it with pasta if you like.

  • Kathleen

    No, I was wondering why I’d NEED to make slow-cooker lentil soup, since it only takes about an hour, anyhow.

  • Jennifer Perillo

    For folks who work outside of the house, being able to add all the ingredients to the slow cooker, and come home to a hot meal is a real time saver. Somedays an hour is a luxury with harried schedules. The long cook over low heat also intensifies the flavors, giving them time to really meld.

  • Barbara

    Following up to tell you that I made this for lunch today using sweet potatoes — flavor was DELISH; oh! and definitely don’t skimp out on the salt! I used 1 tablespoon. I thought it was perfect-o, but my kids added a touch more at the table.

    So, I wanted this for lunch, but I didn’t get up early enough to put it together and allow for the slow cooking time…I cooked it on high for 4 1/2 hours. I was a good Crockpot user (!) and didn’t open the lid until lunch time — the broth soaked into the veggies & lentils, so we didn’t actually have ‘soup’, we had a soft mix that was easily scooped up with corn chips by kids & a spoon by mom who doesn’t eat the chips! But the flavor was fabulous. My daughter (Jenni) who doesn’t care for lentils exclaimed, “Mom! This is better than your other lentil stew!”

    It’s going in ‘the book’ so we can make it again & again. I bragged about it at church and friends requested the recipe. Thanks Jennie!

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Thank you so much for leaving your notes, Barbara! I’m going to give it a try with sweet potatoes next time. 🙂