Fragrant with coconut and curry, this vegan red lentil kale soup is the kind of meal you will crave. Curry powder and ginger lend sweet spice while coconut milk provides creaminess. Red lentils give the soup body and fresh kale and lime juice brighten everything up. It’s rich and satisfying yet healthy—even my kids love this slow cooker lentil soup (which feels like a victory)! This is one of our favorite weeknight dinners, and I’ll show you how easily it comes together. Don’t miss the step-by-step video below.

Spoon in a bowl of vegan red lentil kale soup with a slice of cornbread in the background.

Red lentil kale soup

If you haven’t tried red lentils, now’s the time. They’re incredibly nutritious (high in fiber, folate and polyphenols, which act as antioxidants), with a mild flavor and creamy texture. They’re also easy to cook—unlike other beans and legumes, there’s no need to soak them before cooking. 

The ingredients for the slow cooker curry lentil kale soup recipe arranged on a marble surface.

Vegan slow cooker lentil soup

This vegan lentil soup is adapted from my Slow Cooker Dal, which is a reader (and family!) favorite. It comes together with minimal prep in the slow cooker, perfect for busy weeknights (if you don’t have a slow cooker, I include instructions for how to cook the soup on the stovetop in the Tips below). The soup is thinned with just coconut milk and water, making it completely dairy free. 

I prefer to use water instead of broth in many vegetable soups (such as this Creamy Vegetable Potage), as it results in a cleaner flavor, allowing the sweet taste of the vegetables to shine through. 

Close up of a ladle in the creamy lentil soup.

Curry red lentil soup 

Curry powder gives this soup a beautiful hue and rich flavor. You can use any store-bought curry powder blend you like. 

How do you make lentil soup from scratch?

  • First, cook the aromatics: It’s important to give the aromatics (i.e. the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder and cumin) a jump-start before adding them to the slow cooker. This will soften the vegetables and “bloom” the spices, resulting in a more flavorful soup. You can cook them in the microwave or on the stovetop (they need only a few minutes).
Process shot showing the cooked aromatics for the crockpot lentil soup.
  • Next, assemble the slow cooker: Scrape the cooked aromatics into the slow cooker and add red lentils, coconut milk, water and a bay leaf. Season well with salt and pepper, then cook on LOW until the lentils are soft, about 6-7 hours.
Process shot showing the red lentils, aromatics and bay leaf in a Crockpot.
Process shot showing the cooked vegan lentil kale soup in a slow cooker.
  • Add kale: Stir the soup then add the kale. Cover and cook on high until the kale is wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. 
Process shot showing the kale going into the soup in the slow cooker.
  • Finish with lime juice: Finish the soup with a spritz of fresh lime juice (this will wake up all the flavors), and season it well with salt and pepper. Serve the soup with hot sauce and chopped cilantro alongside, if you’d like.
The finished lentil kale soup in the slow cooker with a ladle.

Can you add chicken to the lentil soup?

Yes! If you’d like, you can add shredded rotisserie chicken to the soup at the same time you add the kale for a lentil chicken soup!

What goes well with lentil soup?

I love serving the slow cooker lentil kale soup with this one-bowl skillet cornbread. The slightly sweet cornbread is perfect for dunking (store-bought naan bread is a great alternative). If you’d like, you can serve a simple green salad alongside. 

Hand dunking a piece of cornbread into the slow cooker red lentil soup.

FAQ

Do you have to soak lentils before slow cooking?

No, lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking in the slow cooker or on the stovetop.

Can you put dried lentils in the slow cooker?

Yes, dried lentils can go directly into the slow cooker. However, I suggest rinsing them in cold water first to remove any dust or impurities. 

Can you cook this soup on the stovetop?

Yes! Sauté the aromatics in a pot, then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook on low until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes (if the soup looks too thick add more water, or, conversely, if the soup is too watery, simmer it with the lid off to evaporate some of the liquid). Add the kale and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until softened, then finish the soup as directed. 

Two bowls of soup on a countertop with a skillet of cornbread alongside.

Tips for making Crockpot lentil soup:

  • You’ll need a 4-to 7-quart slow cooker or Crockpot for this soup (if you don’t have a slow cooker you can cook it on the stovetop–see below). Be sure to cook the soup on the LOW setting, as high heat will cause the lentils to cook unevenly and blow out. 
  • If you prefer, you can cook the soup on the stovetop. Sauté the aromatics in a large pot then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook on low until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes (if the soup looks too thick add more water, or, conversely, if the soup is too watery, simmer it with the lid off to evaporate some of the liquid). Add the kale and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until softened, then finish the soup as directed. 
  • Do not soak the red lentils before adding them to the soup, but give them a rinse in cold water to remove any dust or impurities. 
  • I prefer to use water instead of broth in this soup, as it allows the sweet taste of the vegetables to shine through and gives the soup a cleaner flavor. 
  • Pair the soup with this Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread
  • If you like the soup, check out this Slow Cooker Vegan Red Lentil Dal recipe
  • Find a ton of other slow cooker recipes in my book, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker
Close up of a hand spooning a bite of the lentil soup.

Other slow cooker meals to try:

Easy desserts you might like:

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Easy Creamy Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Coconut & Kale (Vegan)

This slow cooker lentil kale soup is comfort food at its best. It’s healthy, warming and SO DELICIOUS. Best of all, it’s a cinch to make, right in the slow cooker. The creamy soup is naturally vegan, but you can add shredded rotisserie chicken at the end (when you add the kale), if you’d like. Serve the soup with Skillet Cornbread for dunking, or with store-bought naan bread. Be sure to season the soup well with salt and pepper, and if you like a bit of spice (yes, please!) drizzle it with hot sauce at the table. Don’t cook the soup on high, as the lentils will cook unevenly and blow apart. For a stovetop version, check out the notes below.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time7 hrs
Total Time7 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: curry lentil soup, lentil kale soup, slow cooker lentil soup
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients

Stovetop (or microwave) prep

  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Slow cooker

  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed in cold water and drained
  • 1 13.5- ounce can coconut milk (regular or light)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-6 cups chopped curly kale leaves (from about 1/2 large bunch)
  • 1/2 lime

For serving (optional)

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Hot sauce
  • Skillet Cornbread (recipe link in header above) or naan bread

Instructions

Prepare the stovetop (or microwave) ingredients

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin and curry powder. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. (Alternatively, combine everything, including the spices, in a heatproof bowl and microwave on high, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4-5 minutes.) Scrape the mixture into a 4- to 7-quart slow cooker.

Assemble the slow cooker

  • Add the lentils, coconut milk, water and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the lentils are soft, about 6-7 hours on low (do not use high heat).
  • Stir the soup well (it might look a bit separated and dark around the edges, but it will smooth out). Add the kale, and increase the heat setting to high. Cover and continue cooking until the greens are wilted and tender, about 10 minutes longer. Squeeze in the juice from 1/2 lime, and season well with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve

  • Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Serve with cilantro, hot sauce, cornbread and/or naan bread, if you’d like!

Notes

Slow Cooker Jumpstart: To get a jumpstart on the recipe, you can cook the aromatics up to 2 days in advance (cover and refrigerate). 
Storage: The soup can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Reheat gently and thin with water, if needed.
Tips: 
  • You’ll need a 4-to 7-quart slow cooker or Crockpot for this soup (if you don’t have a slow cooker you can cook it on the stovetop–see below). Be sure to cook the soup on the LOW setting, as high heat will cause the lentils to cook unevenly and blow out. 
  • If you prefer, you can cook the soup on the stovetop. Sauté the aromatics in a large pot then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook on low until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes (if the soup looks too thick add more water, or, conversely, if the soup is too watery, simmer it with the lid off to evaporate some of the liquid). Add the kale and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until softened, then finish the soup as directed. 
  • Do not soak the red lentils before adding them to the soup, but give them a rinse in cold water to remove any dust or impurities. 
  • I prefer to use water instead of broth in this soup, as it allows the sweet taste of the vegetables to shine through and gives the soup a cleaner flavor. 
  • Pair the soup with this Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread
  • If you like the soup, check out this Slow Cooker Vegan Red Lentil Dal recipe
  • Find a ton of other slow cooker recipes in my book, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker

Stay Connected!

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