Monday, February 11, 2013

Indian-Spiced Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup Recipe with Spinach and Coconut Milk (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

We swooned over this Indian-Spiced Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Coconut Milk

I know some of you are going to take one look at the title of this recipe and veto it because you think the Indian spices, the red lentils, or the spinach is just not going to appeal to you.   But that would be truly sad, because the entire time we were making this easy slow cooker soup, Jake and I just couldn't stop tasting it and remarking on how good it was!  Admittedly Jake is an Indian food lover, and I'm a fanatic for red lentils, but still we're pretty picky about what we consider to be "blog-worthy" and this delicious soup more than made the cut.  If you're not vegan you might like it with a dollop of fat-free Greek Yogurt, and I loved it with a generous squeeze of lime.

The soup was adapted from a recipe for yellow split pea dal I saw in a fun little book called 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker, but truthfully I changed it up quite a bit in my version.  What I didn't change is the fact that this delicious soup is vegan, making it a perfect choice for this week's Meatless Monday dinner idea.  The soup is also Phase One for the South Beach Diet as long as you have a moderate serving size.  (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch.  For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, follow our Meatless Monday board on Pinterest, or check Meatless Monday at BlogHer.)

Heat olive oil, then saute the onions until they're slightly brown.  Add minced garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, Garam Masala, and ground cinnamon and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Put the spiced onions in the slow cooker.

These are the red lentils I love so much for soup.  Pick them over and discard anyone discolored ones and rinse with cold water before you add them to the slow cooker.  (The soup called for 1 cup of lentils, but Jake and I agreed that next time we'd use 1 1/2 cups for a slightly thicker soup.)

We used canned vegetable broth and added enough water to make 4 cups.

Add the lentils and vegetable broth to the slow cooker with the onions and spices and cook on high for about 2 hours or on low for about 4 hours.

After 2 hours, the ground turmeric had given the lentils a beautiful yellow color and they were starting to dissolve into the soup.

Turn the slow cooker to low and add the coconut milk and chopped spinach and cook about 30 minutes more.

Season the soup generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve hot.

Indian-Spiced Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Coconut Milk
(Makes 4-6 servings; adapted from a recipe for yellow split pea dal in 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker.

1 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander seed
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cup red lentils (inspiring recipe called for 1 cup, but we agreed that we would prefer more for a thicker soup)
4 cups vegetable stock (We used 2 cans vegetable broth - 14 oz. each - and added a little water to make 4 cups.)
1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk
4 cups chopped fresh spinach (or a little more wouldn't hurt)
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Optional:  Greek Yogurt or fresh lime to add at the table

I used a 5-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker for this recipe, but it could have been a little smaller.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan.  Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until it's starting to brown, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the minced garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, Garam Masala, and ground cinnamon and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Put the spiced onion mixture into the slow cooker. 

Pick over the lentils and remove any discolored ones.   Put lentils in a colander and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.  Add lentils and vegetable stock to the slow cooker and cook on high for about 2 hours or on low for about 4 hours.  (The lentils should be softened and starting to fall apart when you add the other ingredients.)

Turn slow cooker to low and add the chopped spinach and can of coconut milk.  Cook about 30 minutes more, or until lentils and spinach are done to your liking.  Season with a generous amount of salt and fresh ground black pepper (to taste) and serve hot. with Greek Yogurt or sliced lime to add at the table if desired.

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South Beach Suggestions:
All types of low-glycemic lentils and split peas are approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but serving size is limited.  In a soup recipe like this with lots of other ingredients you can eat a moderate size serving for Phase One.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Delicious Soups with Red Lentils:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Sumac ~ eCurry
Crockpot (or Stovetop) Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup with Curry and Coconut Milk ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Ethiopian-Inspired Red Lentil Soup ~ Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew (Paula's Moroccan Lentil Stew) ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Turkish Red Lentil Soup ~ Mostly Foodstuffs
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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  1. I'm all about the red lentil love! The spices in this sound so rich and delicious.

  2. This looks amazing! I can't wait to try it. I love any new lentil recipe that you give us.

  3. Joanne and Jen, thanks, and I just can't say enough good things about this one!

  4. Wowser, that does look so good to me. Into the pot it goes!

  5. I love red lentils and Indian flavors so this soup is really appealing to me! Especially today - it's so cold and grey!

  6. Glad people are liking this, and Alyssa pretty cold here too!

  7. I have this in the slow cooker for dinner tonight. It smells so good! I love all your recipes.

  8. I'm just getting a post ready for tomorrow using white beans and spinach. :) I'm out of red lentils, but as soon as I stock up again, I'm making this! I absolutely love lentils with Indian spices.

  9. Lindsey, me too! So glad you like it. Will watch for your post too.

  10. I love dal and all Indian food, so this definitely appeals to my senses Kalyn. I am also a big fan of red lentils. After the big blizzard we just had, soup is definitely on my mind.

  11. Jeanette, you were definitely having soup weather!

  12. Delicious and decadent. Next on my to-do list :)

  13. I made this tonight and it did not disappoint! :D I served it like a sauce over the top of brown rice and also added a can of garbanzos to the soup. Super delish! Thank you for sharing!

  14. Thanks Krithi!

    Holly-girl, your version sounds great. I bet this is so good over rice.

  15. Great minds think alike! I made something very similar last Sunday (although not in a slow cooker) - and it was stupendously delicious! Lots of cumin for warmth - definitely going on permanent winter dinner rotation!

  16. Jeanne, I do love it if I think like you! xoxo

  17. Aah! I really need to get myself a slow cooker! This (and all the rest of you slow cooker recipes) sounds wonderful!

  18. I promise, you would LOVE the slow cooker!

  19. That looks lovely! I'm wishing I hadn't given away my slow cooker now!

  20. This was so delicious! The spice mixture was perfect. I love making lentil stews/soups in the slow cooker.

  21. Fiona, that makes me sad. Couldn't imagine not having a slow cooker.

    Christina, glad you enjoyed it as much as we did. And ditto on the slow cooker love.

  22. Kaylen...This was fantastic. My husband and I really loved it. I used up my red lentils (which I had bought for another recipe). What is the difference between red and green lentils? What I have in my cupboard now are lots of green lentils....

  23. So glad you enjoyed it. You can use green lentils in place of red ones, but the red lentils cook a little more quickly.

  24. I made this yesterday with white/brown lentils and it was DELISH!!! Will be making this again!!

  25. The soup looks delicious and beautiful! I have a ton of red lentils sitting around, and now I know precisely what I need to do with them! I know this is for meatless Monday meal, but suppose I wanted this to be a complete meal with chicken; could I add a chicken breast or two to this?

  26. You could certainly add chicken if you wanted. I would poach and shred the chicken and add it for the last 30 minutes or so of the cooking time.

  27. All I can say is SupercalafragalisticExpaladelicious. I am a devout carnivore and hunter of wildgame. My wife and I decided that we would go vegan for a while (well she decided)... I was assigned the responsibility of cooking and wasn't too sure this thing was going to work for me. I love soups (especially with Grilled Cheese) ... I digress. When it was time to taste it I found myself immersed face deep with a ladle as my spoon. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe.

  28. Searching for lentil recipes for a half marathon tomorrow. I've tried several Indian recipes and I can't seem to get the spices right, something is missing or there's a bitterness, but this was perfect! I just had some for lunch, gave your link to a facebook recipe group, and had to how amazing this was. Thank You!

  29. I'd like to try this, what size is an American cup please?

  30. One cup = 8 ounces. There are a lot of places online where that info is available.

  31. This is one of the first recipes on this website I tried, and now I'm hooked! Rich, warming, easy, and delicious make this a staple in our omnivorous household. Thanks kalyn!

  32. This is one of the first recipes on this website I tried, and now I'm hooked! Rich, warming, easy, and delicious make this a staple in our omnivorous household. Thanks kalyn!

  33. I love this; so glad you liked it!

  34. Looks amazing! I want to cook it for Rosh Hashana this week, but I don't have a slow cooker, how can I adapt the recipe for stovetop in a pot? Thanks!

  35. I haven't made this without a slow cooker, so I can't tell you an exact recipe to adapt it. But in general, use more liquid for stovetop cooking, and simmering time will be about 1/3 as long. I would add the ingredients in the same order for cooking on the stove. You'll just have to watch it to see how long to cook the lentils before you add the spinach and coconut milk.


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