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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 ½ large bunch)
  • ½ 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 ½ 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