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April 27, 2011

Yellow lentil and spinach slow cooker soup recipe

Yellow lentil and spinach slow cooker soup

Lentils and slow cookers were made for each other. When you cook lentils on the stovetop, you have to stir from time to time to keep them from sticking, and you need to check the liquid level to make sure the lentils have absorbed as much as they need. In the slow cooker, you measure everything into the pot, give it a stir, cover and set the cooking temperature to LOW, and go do something else (movie? gardening? rugby?)  for many hours. This recipe gives traditional Indian flavorings -- cumin, coriander, ginger and garlic, and garam masala -- plenty of time to sweeten and marry. Vegan and gluten-free, the soup, like all bean and pea soups, will thicken when stored in the refrigerator or freezer, so you might need to add some water to restore the soupy consistency.

Yellow lentil and spinach slow cooker soup

Adapted from The Indian Slow Cooker, this recipe serves 6.


2 cups yellow lentils or split peas, washed and picked through
1 heaping Tbsp ginger paste or minced ginger root
3 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
1 tsp tomato paste
1 scant tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
6 oz baby spinach leaves, washed
1/2 cup coconut milk (or heavy cream)


In a 4-quart slow cooker, mix together the lentils, ginger paste, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, salt, pepper, and 8 cups of water. Set the cooker to LOW and cook for 4 hours, stirring once or twice.

After 4 hours, stir in the spinach leaves and coconut milk. Turn off the slow cooker and let the soup sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper as needed. Serve hot.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Kalynskitchen | April 27, 2011 at 09:33 PM

Oh yes, I love this! And just adore the black and white place mat.

Posted by: Vanessa Kimbell | April 28, 2011 at 02:42 AM

I am going to have to make this. It's fabulous!

Posted by: judith | April 28, 2011 at 05:22 AM

I've had a bag of yellow split peas sitting in my cabinet for months as I ponder what to do with them! (I bought them because they were so pretty!) There is also lots of spinach now so this is the perfect recipe--low-fat and easy to make. I am going to give it a try this weekend but in my lovely orange dutch oven since I don't have a slow cooker. ;-)

Posted by: Sandie {A Bloggable Life} | April 28, 2011 at 10:07 AM

The spices in this soup sound divine. It may make me give lentils another try!

Posted by: Lydia | April 28, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Alanna, thank you so much.

Kalyn, sometimes my soups taste better than they look, so for those occasions, a perky b&w place mat really helps in the photos!

Vanessa, I hope you'll try this. I'm sure you'll like it.

Judith, your orange Dutch oven will work perfectly. Just remember to stir, and keep an eye on the liquid.

Sandie, what can we do to turn you into a lentil lover? Maybe this soup???

Posted by: Bozena Barton | April 29, 2011 at 01:12 AM

Gorgeous! I always forget about the sweet lentil, but it's such a great addition to any soup or stew. Thanks for posting!

Posted by: Lydia | April 29, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Bozena, lentils are one of my favorite bases for soup. I've been experimenting more with some of the less common varieties, too.

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2011 at 10:51 AM

I made this yesterday and it is fabulous!

Posted by: Berneda | October 26, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Would there be a big difference in taste if I left out the cream/coconut milk?

Posted by: Lydia | October 26, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Berneda, there would definitely be a difference in taste, but you would simply be making a different (and probably delicious) soup. All recipes are just a starting point, so feel free to take this one in your own direction -- and let me know how it works out!

Posted by: Susan Meyer | January 19, 2012 at 02:18 PM

Mine didn't work--sigh. After 4 hours on low, it was not anywhere near cooked.

Posted by: Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) | January 19, 2012 at 03:21 PM

Susan, I'm so sorry it didn't cook for you. If you try it again, try it for 2 hours on high instead. Every slow cooker is different; for me, the lentils practically disintegrated after the 4 hours. Go figure.

Posted by: Donna | November 5, 2012 at 11:31 PM

Should I soak the lentils over night before cooking?

Posted by: Lydia (Soup Chick) | November 6, 2012 at 07:11 AM

Donna, you should not soak lentils overnight.

Posted by: Becky Beighley | January 22, 2013 at 04:01 PM

does this soup end up being sweet at all?

Posted by: Lydia (Soup Chick) | January 23, 2013 at 08:14 AM

Becky, it's not sweet at all, but you can always sweeten to taste with honey or agave nectar.

Posted by: Sarah | April 24, 2013 at 11:28 PM

I made this tonight using brown lentils and broccoli (instead of spinach). It came out great! I also made it in my dutch oven instead of the slow cooker and it took just under an hour. I found it a bit bland initially, so I added extra salt and some chili flakes.

Posted by: Maria | August 20, 2013 at 08:11 AM

The flavors in this dish are soooooo good. This was so easy and delicious, and adding in the coconut milk gave it a beautiful creamy color. Thanks for the recipe :)

Posted by: Kathryn | September 24, 2013 at 08:58 PM

I used Split peas and they are a bit crunchy still...Did I not put it in the slow cooker long enough? I had it on LOW for 4.5 hours because at 4 they seemed to under done for my liking.

Posted by: Lydia (Soup Chick) | September 24, 2013 at 09:00 PM

Kathryn, this is fairly typical. It can depend on how old your split peas are, and hot hot your cooker cooks. Cooking until they're done is the best guide.

Posted by: Courtney | January 12, 2014 at 06:23 PM

I tried this today and did not have much luck. At the end of 4 hours the split peas were nowhere near cooked. I ended up putting it on the stove. That, and it was very bland. Ended up adding more of all of the spices and the coconut milk. If I ever try this again I will be using less water.

Posted by: Debbie | October 26, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Very nice tasting soup but...i have made iit twice and it is never the beautiful yellow color rather an unappetizing brown. Once I convince the family to try it, they love it. What am I doing wrong?

Also as a comment, I blend the soup a bit before serving to give it a thicker texture. Thanks for any color advice.

Posted by: Luna | January 17, 2015 at 10:26 PM

Made this soup with "red" lentils (turn yellow with cooking). I put in a touch more lentils (about 1/3 c.)because that was what was in the bag. It's delicious. Looking for a red lentil soup recipe. So glad I found this one!

Posted by: Nancy Grantham | April 18, 2015 at 05:09 AM

If you add the tomato paste before the lentils or peas are soft they will never soften. You can't put anything in with peas, beans or lentils that's acidic. It stops the softening process no matter how long you cook them. Add the paste after they're cooked.

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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