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.
Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup with Split Red Lentils
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 3 celery stalks diced
- 3 medium carrots trimmed, peeled, and diced
- 2 medium zucchini ends trimmed and chopped into ¾-inch chunks
- 3 small Yukon gold potatoes scrubbed and chopped into ¾-inch cubes
- ¾ cup split red lentils
- 1 cup (240 mL) canned chopped tomatoes with their juices
- 2 pieces of parmigiano-reggiano rind
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 5 cups low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt plus more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 cups finely sliced savoy cabbage reserved for later
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil, for garnishing
- freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- If you own a stovetop-safe slow cooker insert: Heat the olive oil in the insert over medium heat on the stove. Add the onion and celery and saute until tender, 5 to 7 minutes, before transferring to the slow cooker and continuing with the instructions below.
- If you do not own a slow cooker with a stovetop-safe insert (or wish to skip step one): Place the insert on the slow-cooker base (this recipe will fit a 4-quart capacity slow cooker). Add the olive oil, onion, celery, carrot, zucchini, potatoes, split red lentils, chopped tomatoes, parmigiano rind, bay leaves, thyme, chicken stock, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir together. Cook on the high heat setting for 4 to 6 hours, or until the red lentils are tender (or alternatively, cook on the low heat setting for 8-10 hours).
- In the last hour of cook time (or 2 hours, if you are cooking over the low heat setting), add the thinly sliced cabbage. Remove and discard the dried bay leaves, parmesan rinds, and any tough thyme sprigs. Adjust the seasoning to taste salt and pepper – you will most likely need to be liberal on the salt for this soup.
- Serve the soup and top each serving with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley, and freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Tips for Success:
- Older lentils tend to dry out and might take significantly longer to cook. Try to find a bag 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).
116 Comments on “Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup with Split Red Lentils”
Looking forward to making this for the upcoming cold weekend in the Northeast. I do not have a stove top safe slow cooker. Can I sauté the onions etc. in a pan and transfer to slow cooker?
Yes, absolutely! Hope you enjoy it!
Can you freeze this? I want to make this ahead for upcoming guests.
Absolutely! Soups freeze excellently. Just let it thaw (it could take a while) and then reheat gently on the stove, and re-season to taste.
I don’t see any mention of removing the parmesan rind. Does it dissolve during cooking? I’ve never used one before. Looking forward to making this weekend with my mom.
Hi Jamie – I added that to the instructions – thank you for pointing that out (it is not a required ingredient, so I forgot to remind people to remove it prior to serving). You should always remove parmesan rinds, they get very soft, but they do not dissolve. Hope you like the soup!
I made this on the stovetop and it was excellent. I love the addition of lentils to a minestrone
I love this soup – for all of you Instant Pot fans out there – I pressure cooked it for 12 minutes and it was great. I would say try 10 min if you want the veggies a little more firm.
And your lentils were nice and soft? I’d love to make this in my instant pot but the hubs only eats soft lentils so need to make sure😊
Going to make soup and thank you for telling us about the lentils xx
Fabulous soup! And so easy – just shoved it all in slow cooker! Great flavour, healthy and inexpensive, this is going to become a regular 🙂
Hi iv just been shopping online to buy all these ingredients im going to make this soup in my normal slow cooker. Your recipe doesnt mention adding any water to it? Is this a mistake or will tbe ingredients turn in to a liquid? Thanks in advance dan.
Hi! I think you might have mis-read the recipe – further down it lists that you’ll need 5 cups of stock! Definitely use stock and not water for best flavor. Hope this helps!
Very tasty. Will definitely make it again 🙂
This soup was just perfect for our hard freeze last night-it’s cooking away as I write and it smells just divine. Thanks so much Laura!
I cannot print the recipe. This makes it useless as far as I am concerned.
Hi! I’m not having any issues printing on my end. There is a print button in the recipe box and it should open a window, which then prompts you to print. Unfortunately I can’t troubleshoot tech problems for printers, but I’d try another browser or check your printer connections.
Delicious soup. So fresh and tasty and extremely simple to put together. Loved it!!!
I loved this soup. So much flavor. Am I able to freeze it?
Yes! Soups freeze really well. Just allow to thaw in the fridge for 24-48 hours before reheating on the stove. You might have to add a touch more broth or liquid if it is a bit too thick.
This soup has been on repeat for us for 3 years now. So good! I’ve made it in the crockpot and on the stove. Both turn out great.
Is this soup as good if made in Instapot? If so, are there instructions for instapot cooking?
Instant Pots have slow cooker settings, I would personally use that! Unfortunately I haven’t tested it with one to give more specifics.
I didn’t have the Parmesan rind and I was too lazy to go to the store, so I left that out. Despite this omission, the soup was delicious. I used my Instant Pot so I could sauté the celery and onions.
I do wish the recipe guided how much salt to add at the end. I am sure salt tastes are very individual, but a starting point would have been helpful for me!
Hi Kate! I always season throughout the cooking process and then season once again before serving – until everything tastes balanced (if a dish tastes at all bland or flat, it’s usually in need of another pinch or two of salt!). I hesitate to add salt quantities to savory recipes because it really is a taste preference and salt should be used throughout the cooking process (not added all at once) – in addition, every brand of salt varies in density and so you’d need to use the exact brand I specify to follow the quantities without adjustments – but I’ll definitely keep this in mind for the future.
This is the best soup I have ever had
Do you Recommend doubling everything to make more ?
This could hard in a slow cooker, because you’d need to have a really large one. If that’s the case, I’d adapt the recipe to be made on the stovetop in a large soup pot!
I really look forward to making this! Was wondering if I could swap out the red lentils for green ones? I know some recipes you can’t. Thanks :)!
You could do that with this recipe, just know the texture of the soup will be different! I like how the red split lentils break down a bit more!
This soup sounds absolutely delicious!!! I just had oral surgery and am bound to a liquid/soft foods diet, would this soup still be good if I use my immersion blender on it? Or will that take away from the soup itself?
I honestly think it could be great that way – another idea would be this Red Lentil Soup, which you could blend even more: https://www.abeautifulplate.com/red-lentil-soup/ Hope this helps!
I only have regular red lentils, not split. Google says this will cool fast and become mush. Should I adjust for this? Thanks!
You can use those! The point is for them to break down more and become very soft – that’s why they were used for this recipe!
Omg this soup was amazing! Didn’t change a thing. Can’t wait to have it tomorrow for lunch.
This sounds really good. I need t find ways to eat more vegetables and legumes. Will try it next week.
I’m excited to try this for upcoming meeting. I’m interested in swapping zucchini for butternut squash—can you give tips for that? I’ve never cooked with it before. I’m a fan of layers of flavor and cooking it on stove— but I love my slow cooker and my pressure cooker as well!! I will be doubling recipe. Thanks!!
Butternut squash is similar to potato, and takes much longer to cook than zucchini in any situation – it should work but you’d want to maybe chop it in smaller cubes and prolong the cooking process. Hope this helps!
This was absolutely delicious and so perfect on a rainy cold day. Thank you for posting !
So glad to hear that!
I’ve made this recipe before and it was so amazing! I want to make it again for my new roommate, but they don’t like lentils. Is there a good substitute for them in this recipe?
Do they like cannellini beans? I might substitute with canned to name it easier and especially because the cooking time will be off compared to lentils which cook and break down quickly.
looks so very healthy, Due to all the covid circulating I have been using turmeric in my other vegetable soups. could you comment on this ? I have a triple recipe cooking at the moment for my big family for a very cold day.Im sure it is going to be delicious!!
Thank you x
Hi Helen, thanks for your comment. In terms of adding turmeric to soups, go for it – although the flavor isn’t as suited for some of my recipes. If you’re asking in regards to immune health, I obviously cannot comment on this, but as the significant other of a health worker, I hope you get vaccinated. ❤️
I prepped this last night, ready for today’s lunch! It did not disappoint! It was perfect for today’s weather! It was my first time making lentils and I will definitely be making them again, especially with this recipe.
I substituted with sweet potatoes! I almost forgot the parsley .. but trust me when I say DON’T forget the parsley ?
Yuuum. Thank you!
this soup is fab 🙂 really hearty and filling, but not heavy! i skipped the cabbage as it tends to bug my stomach, and it turned out wonderfully 🙂 served with some homemade dutch oven bread and shaved parm. soup was even better the few days after i made it!
So glad you enjoyed it!
This soup is delicious! My first time to cook red lentils. I too was looking for a soup using winter veggies. I used one potato, one turnip, and one cup or so of butternut squash. (No zucchini) I really wanted to try the savoy cabbage but I couldn’t find any. I used kale. I cooked the soup in my dutch oven on top of the stove. Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano to top it off sealed the deal! Happy Healthy Blessed 2021!
So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the feedback Sherry!
I would like to do this in my new Dutch oven on the stove top. Do you have the cooking instructions for stovetop instead of crockpot? Thanks!
Sorry, I don’t have the written instructions included in the recipe card but I’ve made this soup countless times on the stove and it’s great. You just want to slowly sauté the aromatics, and add the ingredients in batches based on cook time. If you’ve made other vegetables soups on the stove, use those as your guide. If you don’t tend to stray very often from written recipes, that might not help that much, but hope it does!
This is a weird question but I have a 3 qt crock pot, any tips on fitting the soup in there? Maybe do a little less broth? Thanks!
I would just do 3/4 of the recipe quantities because it could be very tight otherwise and you don’t want to just reduce one ingredient, especially broth (otherwise will be too thick). Hope this helps!
This was a very good soup. Loved all the vegetables especially the savoy cabbage. I did not have time to do this in my crock pot so did it stove top instead and it turned out perfect. Because of my preference in taste I added about a 1 tsp or a pinch more to the soup. Enjoyed your recipe, thank you for sharing.
Love that! I actually think I prefer it on the stovetop, but the slow cooker makes it easy, so I wanted to provide that option to people. So glad you enjoyed it, and always season it to your liking – it always varies depending on your salt brand and taste preference! 🙂
Thanks so much for this recipe. I’ve made it 3x now in the instant pot (pressure cooked it!) and it was one of the best soups I have ever had. I’m making it right now slow-cooker style due to making a double batch and it’s too full to pressure cook! Here is how I Instant Pot-ed it:
1) Sautée onions and celery on the “Sautee” function.
2) Add in all other veggies – sautee another 3-5 minutes. I also added garlic at this stage.
3) Add the tomatoes and broth (I use “Better than Bouillon” vegetable stock)
4) Add the lentils, cheese rinds (I think those are important) thyme sprigs and bay leaves
5) If desired, add a few other herbs – I tried it once with some smoked paprika (just a teaspoon or so), dried oregano, and dried basil, and it was wonderful!)
6) Seal the instant pot. Hit “soup” button or “manual” button for 30 minutes.
Once it’s done, let it naturally release for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
Vegetarians and meat eaters alike may enjoy adding a veggie sausage to the top of this soup, along with more Parmesan, and LEMON JUICE! It completely made the soup.
Thanks again, love this recipe so much. Looking forward to trying your other recipes!
I made this, but used kale instead of cabbage, and instead of salt at the end, added a teaspoon of balsamic, splash of Worcestershire, and dash of sriracha. Perfect depth of flavor and froze beautifully!
This looks really good, but I wouldn’t call it a “winter” soup with zucchini in it – the most summer vegetables of them all
Hi Jenna! Yes – that’s a valid point! I mostly called it that because I think its a hearty vegetable-heavy soup that is best served in the winter months 😉 But totally get that feedback! Thanks!
I, just cut all my vegges and a few more than your recipe, used vegetable stock and canned red beans because I could not get any Lentils. Put all in my 6q crock pot about 2 hours ago and my kitchen has a very nice aroma. Can’t wait to try
This soup was delicious!! I will definitely make again. The second time, I didn’t have zucchini so subbed in butternut squash (winter time!). Also added a splash of hot sauce. YUMMY!!! Thanks for a great recipe for a nutritious and hearty soup!
Yum! Love that swap 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to leave a review and your feedback! I really appreciate it.
I can’t wait to try this soup. Can this be made in a pressure cooker?
I haven’t made it in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot, eg.) yet, so while I know it would definitely work, I can’t give great advice about cooking times or ratio changes. In general, I always reduce the liquid a bit for pressure cooker recipes. If you’ve had success adapting slow cooker recipes to the pressure cooker, I encourage you to give it a shot, but can’t provide more information or promise the same results unfortunately. Hopefully I can get a chance to test this soup that way soon, and when that happens, I’ll add notes to the recipe box.
Whoops! I accidentally added a 796ml can of diced tomato!!! I thought the recipe called for a can, not a cup of canned tomato….I hope it turns out alright :/ was so looking forward to this! It’s currently cooking, but can you suggest anything to counteract the mistake?? Thanks!
Hi Amanda! A standard 15-ounce can is about two cups – it shouldn’t make a big impact on this soup at all! If it is too watery, you can always reduce it or simply discard a ladleful of broth to make it a bit thicker. I wouldn’t worry 🙂 Hope you enjoy it!
We just had a 30 degree temperature drop overnight and it has me craving warm comforting soup. Can’t wait to try this red lentil minestrone. Pinning now.
Don’t have red lentils but I do have green/brown. And yellow split peas. Would any of these work for this soup. Forgot to pick red lentils when I went shopping.
Hi Diane! I would use brown lentils – just make sure you keep an eye out, because they will cook slightly differently. Hope this helps!
The best soup I’ve ever made!! Thank you!!!
This soup is not entirely vegetarian, due to the chicken broth. It should not be labeled as such.
Hi Kirk. I edited the headnote for the recipe (that was a typo on my part, as I recently transferred a lot of recipes to a new plugin and it was an honest mistake). I do not include that information in the post copy. However, the soup IS extremely vegetarian friendly – you just need to substitute vegetable broth, so it’s really not a big stretch to figure out how to adapt it to be.
I suppose this can be cooked in a regular pot on stove top without changing any ingredients?
Yes! Absolutely. It’s just as good (honestly, if not better, because it allows you to break down and sauté the vegetables a bit). Just make sure you sauté the vegetables in batches, if you can.
Yum! Loved this. Didn’t have parmesan rind, fresh herbs or bay leaf so changed them out for some soy sauce, dreid thyme/sage, garlic and smoked paprika. Still delish!!!
When winter is approaching, I go hunt for soup ideas 🙂 one of the few reasons to love the cold season if you ask me! Like you, I love red lentils, especially when blended into a soup. I look forward to trying this out !
Will this work with whole red lentils? I think I bought the wrong kind by accident but I plan on making this soup today
How did it turn out?! So sorry for only just seeing your question.
It was great!! The whole lentils were delicious, I also used crushed tomatoes because I didn’t have chopped. I even threw in a Thai chili from my garden for a little spice. This is a great recipe, thank you for sharing! ????
I love this! I am writing vegetarian recipe round ups on my blog in 2018 (to encourage people to try meatless monday- everyone has to start somewhere) and would love to feature you. You can check out my blog (for beginner environmentalists) at sunshineguerrilla.com. Is it alright if I share this link to your recipe?
Can I freeze this soup?
Yes! Almost any soup recipe will freeze well, and this is definitely one of those. I would allow it to thaw completely and then place it in a large saucepan (depending on how much you’re freezing, of course) and place over low temperature, stirring occasionally. If necessary, you might need to add a touch more stock and reseason to taste with salt and pepper! Hope this helps!
This looks amazing, slight edit… at the end you said don’t forget to fish the soup, I hope you meant to type finish
My husband refuses to eat cabbage!! Any substitution ideas? Perhaps Kale?
Any beans you’d recommend throwing in? I’m out of lentils…
Dried beans of other varieties won’t cook in time (they would need to be soaked), but you could definitely add canned, drained, and rinsed cannellini beans, navy beans, or even garbanzo in the last 15-20 minutes!
Thanks so much!!
Just made this soup during the blizzard here in NY. Cannot wait to have it for dinner!!! My whole apartment smells amazing from this soup. Thanks!!
Yay! Soup is perfect blizzard food. Hope you’re not snowed in! Hope you liked the soup too! Thanks so much for commenting!
What if I am unable to come up with a rind of the Parm Reg? Can I substitute shredded while it cooks and if so how much and when should I add it?
You definitely don’t have to add parmigiana rind to the soup! I just have a habit of doing so, because I generally have a few in my fridge and it adds good flavor to soup. You can just leave it out completely. I wouldn’t add shredded cheese to the soup as it cooks, and just top it with a bit more when serving if you feel like it! Hope this helps.
How to adjust for whole red lentils?
Made this last night and did use vegetable stock since I’m a vegetarian along with 2 cans of stewed tomatoes in place of the chopped, because I love stewed. It was delicious!
this looks delicious! i have 2 questions– can this be made over the stove without a slow cooker, just adjusting the cook time? and it says serves 4-6… i have 4 people to feed for a party, is this enough for like really big bowls of soup? thanks!!
I love vegetable soups too! I just made this on the stove top because I didn’t plan ahead, and it was delicious! Thanks for the recipe. Love your website!
So happy to hear that! Thank you so much Katie!
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Hi, will vege stock still work well?
Sorry for only just getting back to this! Vegetable stock would definitely work – I don’t tend to love store-bought veggie stocks, but that’s just my own personal preference. Hope this helps!
Made this soup last night and it is so so tasty! I’m on a health kick so I swapped the potatoes for pumpkin and left out the Parmesan – and it still turned out amazing. I will be making this again and again. Thank you!
I really like the potatoes, because they help make the soup a bit more filling and hearty. But I think you could substitute with butternut squash or other root vegetables? It would change the flavor of the soup a bit, but should work fine!
This soup is delicious! It’s easy to make and full of healthy veggies. The olive oil, Parmesan, and parsley topping put it over the top.
This soup looks and sounds wonderful. Beautiful photos.
You have such delicious recipes and a great site!
I’m so weird with lentils. I’m always looking for a recipe that I actually enjoy them in!! This soup looks delish and like an absolute must-make!
Give me a big bowl!!
Looks sooo cozy. Red lentils are my favorite, and I love the color! Andrew just got a slow cooker and this would be a great recipe to try out. Can I also mention how GORGEOUS your photography is? I love those bowls with those clean black lines around the rim!
Thank you SO much Erica! They are ceramic bowls that I got from this cool shop in Berkeley, CA. I love them too! 🙂
Which slow cooker do you have? I don’t have a 4 quart, only 6 quarts (two of them!) and am thinking I need a smaller one for variety. As if I need yet another kitchen appliance. GAH!
I know we already discussed this – but I wanted to reply directly to the commment too, in case its helpful for others! I have this one: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/all-clad-cast-aluminum-slow-cooker/
Totally digging this soup! It is definitely the time of year for a good crockpot meal. I’m so happy you shared this as your first one with us 🙂
I perfect soup to have at this time of the year! Healthy and warm and nurturing! Getting us all ready for the serious eating later in the month! Yum! I wish I had a bowl of this right now! I had no idea about the lentils aging and drying out! Thanks for the tip, Laura!
This is just what I need!! it is freezing here today and this looks perfect! 🙂
Thank you Tieghan!
Potatoes add a lot of filling and heartiness to the soup, so I like them a lot. Perhaps butternut squash or some other root vegetable could be substituted? The soup’s flavor would be a bit different, but it would still be delicious! you can also check https://organiselife.com.au/
Girl, I own 2 slow cookers 😉 Although I don’t use them that much and I’ve never made soup in it! Usually just chicken (and this year I finally made applesauce!)
Haha!!! It’s been really fun to put my slow cooker to use over the past few months. I have to say, it does put dinner on the table quickly 🙂