This Slow Cooker Curried Red Lentil Soup is a hearty, soul warming vegetarian soup packed with creamy red lentils, carrots, and curry.
Show of hands: How many of you live with a hardcore meat eater? Yeah, I didn't think I was alone in this. Lately I have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian and vegan meals into our rotation. But, as you can imagine, I have a problem when it comes to the carnivore I live with.
Even if I bulk up vegetarian meals with pasta or grains, I still usually get a sideways stare and slew of questions around whether or not this is all we are eating?! However, given my innate stubborn streak, I can’t just throw in the towel. (Although truth be told there is always a rotisserie chicken close by in case I fail. Real life.)
So imagine my surprise when this simple slow cooker lentil meal passed the test recently. I was shocked. Just a simple meal of soup, salad, and bread — that's all it took after all the tons of meals I've tried? Well, okay then! I think the secret though is that this soup is incredibly hearty. The more delicious and filling your meatless meal, the more likely your most dedicated meat eater will turn toward the light side.
Side Dishes to Serve with Red Lentil Soup
As I mentioned, I served this with salad and bread the first time I made it, but have changed it up a lot in subsequent meals. Consider serving this stew:
- Over white or brown rice, cauliflower rice, or veggie noodles.
- Over a low-carb or high-fiber pasta.
- With a large, substantial salad filled with all your favorite veggies, and maybe even some fruit, too. Don't forget to use a light dressing and to avoid the heavy, creamy ones.
- A side of roasted or steamed veggies goes great with this lentil stew. If you are low on time, I've found those steamable veggie bags you can find in your grocer's freezer aisle work really well!
- Potatoes work great with this stew. You can make a baked potato on the side, or cook up some cubed potatoes and serve this stew right on top of them.
- Sweet potatoes taste delicious in this dish, if you are looking for a healthier starch option.
- A premade bagged slaw is a great side to easily toss together with just about anything, but especially with lentils on the side.
Can You Make Red Lentils in an Instant Pot?
Just when you think your meal cooking time can't get any handier than a slow cooker, along comes the Instant Pot. You can totally make this dish in the Instant Pot. You'll still combine all the ingredients in the pressure cooker. Put the lid on and seal, and cook for — are you ready for this? — three minutes to cook all that together. Any longer, and you'll be left with a mushy dinner.
Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions for how to seal and vent your pressure cooker properly.
Ideas for Customizing Curried Red Lentil Soup
Though I didn't tweak this at all for the first iteration of this stew, I have since added and subtracted various ingredients to make it new and exciting each time. Easier to please the meat-eater that way, I think.
- Give this dish a smoky flavor by using a bit of smoked paprika (two to three tablespoons), a dash of cayenne, a tablespoon of balsamic, and a squeeze of lemon at the end to round out this flavorful iteration.
- Make this red lentil curry dish a spicy one with the addition of red pepper flakes, your favorite hot sauce, or fresh peppers. Jalapenos and red chilis work well — just be sure to use gloves when you're cutting them and don't rub your eyes!
- Make your this stew a soup by blending it all up together or simply make it creamier by taking out two cups and blending that up then adding it back to the stew.
- This dish begs for a hearty green like spinach or kale. Those are both easy enough to toss in during the last minutes of cooking for a quick wilt. Talk about hearty and nutritious!
- In addition to serving this over potatoes, consider serving it with white or sweet potatoes cubed and cooked right inside the slow cooker. Butternut squash is another great way to really round out the flavors of the lentils and spices.
What Kind of Toppings Should I Use?
Toppings are the best part and are a great way to ensure everyone gets to make this dish his or her own.
- Jalapenos, red peppers, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, or all of the above can take this dish to a whole other spice level.
- A dollop of low fat sour cream or non-fat plain, Greek yogurt takes up the creaminess factor.
- Herbs like cilantro or parsley sprinkled over the top of this stew are delicious.
- For a little bit of crunch, consider roasting some chickpeas and adding a tablespoon or two to the top of your lentils.
- If you want more crunch, try adding pepitas, pine nuts, or slivered almonds. You could also crumble up tortilla or pita chips and toss them on top.
Can You Freeze This Lentil Stew?
Freezing this dish is a cinch. Once it's cooled down to room temperature, put the stew in a leakproof container, label, and store in the freezer for up to three months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat the same day for best results.
Slow Cooker Curried Red Lentil Soup
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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