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A soup this easy to make should not taste this good; it should require a grocery list a mile long, your knife should dull from constant chopping, and you should have to clear your calendar for a marathon cooking session. Instead, a simple mirepoix (onion, celery, and carrot), chopped garlic, and a few sprinkles from the spice cabinet enhance canned vegetable broth to soften earthy green lentils with completely hands-off cooking. Smoky paprika and a spoonful of tomato paste give this vegetarian soup some much-needed depth and umami flavor. Wholesome and satisfying, this vegetarian lentil soup is how to reboot after a season of overindulgence.
With no need to presoak or cook for hours, lentils are the star of the last-minute cook's pantry. But choose the right type and they are also ideal for slow cooker soups that simmer for hours. Reach for green lentils over the more brightly hued red or yellow. Green lentils are often the star of salads since they hold their shape after cooking, and this same quality enables them to remain intact despite extended cooking in the slow cooker. Green lentils taste earthy and slightly peppery — a delicious baseline for a hearty soup.
This gem of a soup is ideal for those days when dinner needs to be waiting when I walk in the door. Make morning prep even easier by chopping the vegetables and measuring the herbs and spices after your big weekend grocery shop. Simply stir the soup together in the slow cooker and turn the knob to low before heading out the door. A splash of red wine vinegar wakes up the earthy, vegetal flavors that mellow with low-and-slow cooking. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or, to keep it vegan, a simple swirl of olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes Everyone Should Know
Slow Cooker Easy Lentil Soup
Serves 4; makes about 6 cups
(1 quart) low-sodium vegetable broth
(14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
small yellow onion, diced
medium carrot, diced
medium celery stalk, diced
olive oil, plus more for serving
cloves garlic, minced
red wine vinegar
Options for serving: plain yogurt, olive oil, chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
Place all the ingredients except the vinegar in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on the LOW setting until the lentils are tender, about 8 hours.
Remove the bay leaf and stir in the red wine vinegar. Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil and chopped fresh parsley or cilantro if desired.
Make ahead: The vegetables can be chopped and refrigerated up to 5 days before cooking the soup.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.