I love it when fall approaches, because that means I get to make more soups. By far, soup is one of my favorite dishes. It’s always warm, hearty, and satisfying. Plus, it’s usually healthy and low-calorie. So, what’s not to like? That’s why I want to share one of my go-to recipes when I’m craving something savory and homey, but super healthy – my Crock Pot Vegetable Soup with Lentils. You’ll find the recipe below, along with some very useful tips to make the best vegetable soup.
Is Vegetable Soup Good for You?
Vegetable Soup is very healthy. It’s packed with a ton of vegetables and sometimes whole grains that are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Because of the high nutrient content, it can help strengthen your immune system and fight off colds, flus, and illnesses like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Another reason why vegetable soup is so healthy, is because most, if not all, of the ingredients have a low calorie density. That means there aren’t many calories per cup of vegetable soup. This can help you stay within a daily calorie deficit, and lose weight.
Additional benefits of vegetable soup include a high serving of fiber, which can help your gut microbiome, increasing overall health and feelings of wellbeing.
How to Make Vegetable Soup
Start by identifying what vegetables you want to include (I will get into that more in the next section). Then, sauté your onions in a pan with oil. This process will caramelize your onions and add extra flavor to the soup. I recommend this step regardless of your cooking method. If you’re cooking this vegetable soup on the stovetop, then add and sauté the chopped celery and carrots next, followed by the rest of the vegetables and spices.
If you are cooking this vegetable soup in the crockpot or instant pot, just dump all of your ingredients into the pot including the caramelized onions, and turn on the device. Instructions are below.
- Heat a deep pot or Dutch oven to high heat and drizzle the bottom of the pan with 1 tbs. of olive oil.
- Then pour in the chopped onions and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the onions until they have caramelized. This will take about 5-10 minutes. If your onions start to brown too much and it starts sticking to the pan, then pour a little vegetable broth into the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan with your spatula, as the broth will break up the browning at the bottom of the pan. This will also give the onions additional color and flavor.
- Next, add in the chopped celery and carrots. Sauté for another 10 minutes.
- Add in the chopped mushrooms and minced garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Next, stir in the cumin and tomato paste and stir to combine.
- Pour in the uncooked lentils, pinto beans, vegetable broth, green beans, maple syrup, and rosemary and stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot with the lid and let it simmer for about 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Do this until the lentils are fully cooked.
- Once the lentils are fully cooked, taste and season the soup with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Turn the heat off and take your pot off the hot stove. Stir in the red chard, lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil.
- Stir to combine, serve in a small bowl with some bread, and enjoy!
How to Make Vegetable Soup in an Instant Pot
Cooking vegetable soup in an Instant pot is much faster and less hands-on. Here are the instructions below:
- Plug in the instant pot and turn it to the “sauté” setting. Cover the bottom of the pot with 1 tbs. of olive oil. Pour in the chopped onions and sauté with salt and pepper for 5-10 minutes or until caramelized.
- Then add in the mushrooms and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the sauté setting and pour in the celery, carrots, cumin, tomato paste, lentils, pinto beans, vegetable broth, green beans, rosemary, and maple syrup.
- Set the valve to “sealing” and turn on the instant pot to manual for 10 minutes.
- Once it’s done and you’ve let the steam out, open the lid and stir in the red chard, olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- Serve hot in a bowl with bread and enjoy!
What Vegetables Should I Add to Crock Pot Vegetable Soup?
You can add any vegetables you would like. I personally love adding mushrooms, green beans, carrots, celery, onions, kale, and tomatoes to mine – as you can see from the recipe below. Here is a full list of vegetables you can choose from:
- Green beans
- Zucchini (or other squash)
- Bell peppers
- Hot peppers
- Beans (pinto, lima, northern, garbanzo, etc.)
- Brown rice
How Should I Season My Crock Pot Vegetable Soup?
You can pick from a variety of spices. The sky is the limit. In this recipe, I use cumin. For other flavorings, I use lemon juice, lemon zest, rosemary, maple syrup, garlic, and tomato paste.
Using mushrooms is a great tactic to increase flavor as well. You can treat it like a seasoning when you recognize that the mushrooms will infuse into the broth and provide extra Unami to the soup after the cooking process. Some other spices and herbs you can use include:
- Bay leaves
What is the Secret to Making the Best Vegetable Soup?
The secret is to take full advantage of herbs and spices. If you use the right combination of herbs and spices, you will blow the flavor out of the park.
To keep it simple, pick 1-2 spices and at least 1 herb to use to flavor your soup. I recommend using cumin and bay leaves, as that adds a heartiness and Unami to the soup that is much needed when all you’re using is vegetables! As for herbs, I like and recommend using parsley or rosemary (especially if it’s your first time making vegetable soup).
My personal secret: Use cumin, tomato paste, and mushrooms in concert. Using these together will give the soup a heartiness perfect for fall and winter. The mushrooms will soak in the broth, infusing its mushroom flavor and increasing its Unami.
Can I Freeze Vegetable Soup?
Yes! After the cooking process, let the soup cool down fully. Then put the soup in Ziploc bags, air tight containers, or mason jars. Seal tight, and place in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just make sure to store the soup in a freezer safe container.
To re-heat it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, and then heat the soup in a sauce pan over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes.
If you want to keep your leftover vegetable soup in the refrigerator, then it will last for 4-7 days in an air-tight container.
What Side Dishes Go With Vegetable Soup?
You can pair this crock pot vegetable soup with anything, or you can eat it by itself! If you’re looking for something to pair it with, you can pair it with salad (try my strawberry salad), bread, or crackers.
Other Dinner Recipes to Try
- Creamy Sausage Asparagus Pasta
- Meatballs and Spaghetti
- Easy Teriyaki Chicken
- Chicken Green Bean Mushroom Stir Fry
I hope all of these tips were helpful! If you decide to make this recipe, don’t forget to take a photo of your creation and post your meatballs with the hashtag #audreythena and tag @audreythena_foodgoddess. Okay, let’s dive into the recipe.
Crock Pot Vegetable Soup with Lentils [Vegan]
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 1 tbs. olive oil for caramelizing the onions
- 3 cups mushrooms chopped
- 4 sprigs celery
- 3 carrots chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbs. ground cumin
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 lb. lentils uncooked
- 2 cans pinto beans
- 2 quarts vegetable broth
- 2 cups green beans or 1 can
- 4-5 sprigs rosemary
- 1 tbs. maple syrup
- 1 bunch red chard roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 3 tbs. lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Before adding ingredients to the slow cooker, heat a medium frying pan to medium-high heat with 1 tbs. of olive oil in the pan.
- Pour the chopped onions and salt and pepper into the pan, and sauté for 5-10 minutes. Sauté the onions until they have caramelized. If your onions start to brown too much and it starts sticking to the pan, pour a little vegetable broth into the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan with your spatula, as the broth will break up the browning at the bottom of the pan. This will also give the onions additional color and flavor.
- Once the onions are caramelized, dump the onions into the slower cooker.
- Then add 1 tbs. of olive oil into the frying pan again while the stove top is still on medium-high heat. Dump the chopped mushrooms in with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Dump the sautéed mushrooms into the slow cooker.
- Dump in the celery, carrots, minced garlic, cumin, tomato paste, lentils, pinto beans, vegetable broth, green beans, rosemary, and maple syrup into the slow cooker.
- Add 1 ½ tsp of salt and a lot of freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine and secure the lid on.
- Slow cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
- Once it’s done, stir in the chopped chard, lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil.
- Serve hot with some bread and enjoy!