Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup with Split Red Lentils
Hearty slow cooker winter vegetable soup with split red lentils. This healthy crock pot recipe is packed with vegetables, red split lentils, and finished with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Today marks a big day! This slow cooker winter vegetable soup with split red lentils is the first crock pot soup recipe to ever grace the blog. Healthy vegetable soups are my jam. Cue the confetti and break out the crock pots!
A bunch of you have been asking (for some time now) that I share slow cooker recipes and while I always want to oblige any recipe requests that you throw my way, I didn’t actually own a slow cooker machine until about six months ago.
It is probably the one kitchen appliance that I’ve held out on over the years.
Can I confess something? For a long time, I didn’t quite get what all of the fuss was about. Feel free to hate me a little bit.
I’m an adamant believer in sauteing and browning (hello flavor!) and felt like I would be betraying my favorite Dutch oven, because I’m weird like that.
On the other hand, the idea of throwing everything into a slow cooker in the morning, leaving the house if need be, and coming back to a fully prepared dinner was incredibly appealing. Who wouldn’t love that?! The good news? You can get slow cookers with stovetop-safe inserts, which allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds.
This soup can be prepared two ways: you can either choose to saute the onions beforehand (which will help maximize their flavor) or you can just throw them into the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients, turn the machine on, and walk away. I’ve tried it both ways and the soup still comes out great.
This soup is all about the vegetables and it is packed with them.
Onions, celery, carrot, zucchini, chopped canned tomatoes, and finely thinly sliced savoy cabbage. Yukon gold potatoes are added as well (no peeling required) to help bulk it up just a bit. My mom actually made a very similar soup for us when we were growing up, and I always loved it.
Hearty and extremely filling, yet you don’t feel weighed down at all. It’s the perfect soup to enjoy on a cold and dreary winter day – especially if you have access to good crusty loaf of bread.
One important tip that I realized after testing this recipe a few times was the importance of fresh (or at least, as fresh as possible!) split red lentils.
Yes, all lentils at the store are dried. But if you’ve been hanging onto a mason jar full of split red lentils for, um, maybe a year – I blame the move – please don’t use those for this.
Older lentils tend to dry out even further and will take significantly longer to cook and become tender. Try to find a fresh bag of them at the grocery store or choose them from a bulk bin that gets refreshed often (i.e. not the bag of lentils that has been sitting in your convenience store for three years on the top shelf).
I love split red lentils, because they are delicate and small, yet break down in the cooking process and help thicken the soup. They also are incredibly good for you and contain lots of fiber and protein.
Don’t forget to finish the soup by drizzling it with a touch of olive oil, sprinkled parsley, and a generous pile of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
It’s the final important touch.