You know what’s great about the slow cooker? It makes it so easy to eat healthily! Before I got mine, I found myself scrambling at the last minute to figure out what to eat for dinner. That usually turned into ordering take-out (and it’s impossible to follow my diet plan if I’m always cheating). Recipes like this slow cooker Mediterranean lentil soup really changed my life for the better.
It’s just so easy to throw my ingredients together in the morning, and I get excited knowing that I’m coming home from work to a home-cooked meal. I would never have made a from-scratch soup after work before this, so thank you to the slow cooker for being a lifesaver!
You Won’t Miss the Meat in This Recipe
I’m not a vegetarian, but I love cooking at least one meatless recipe a week. It’s a great opportunity to load up on heart-healthy beans and tons of nutrient-dense vegetables. In the beginning, I used to miss the meat. But, before too long, I had learned a few key tricks that make vegetarian meals just as satisfying.
The first tip is to make sure your sauce is super savory. In the case of this slow cooker Mediterranean lentil soup, the sauce is the broth. Use a high-quality vegetable broth (or better yet, make your own) for best results. Then you build on that base with the addition of umami-rich tomato paste, smoky cumin, and bright lemon zest. These ingredients will really come together to make something special and you’ll celebrate with every bite.
Another secret to satisfying vegetarian meals is to make it filling. Since meat’s calories mainly come from protein, it’s important to have protein-rich ingredients in your vegetarian meal. While lentils are not a complete protein, they are a great plant-based protein source. They’re also an excellent source of fiber, which will fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied long after you finish eating.
In addition to the lentils, this slow cooker Mediterranean lentil soup is full of the low-glycemic-index vegetable sweet potatoes. They’re not only a great source of beta-carotene and vitamin A, but they also have a sweet flavor and a smooth texture. When you combine those sweet potatoes with the nutty lentils and earthy spinach, you’ll find yourself with a super satisfying eating experience.
Let’s Talk About Lemon Juice in Soups
If you’re going through the ingredients list and the lemon zest and juice stand out to you, trust us: it’s going to be delicious. Lemons are like an ingredients booster, a powerhouse that brings out other flavors. A little squeeze of this acidic ingredient and you’ll taste nuances you’ve never noticed before. Lemon juice is specifically good at making spinach taste really good.
The zest of the lemon doesn’t really add anything nutritionally, but it does add a pop of flavor. It’s easy enough to zest a lemon if you have a microplane, and you can even freeze extra zest for later use. Just make sure you’re buying organically grown lemons. You don’t want to shave any pesticide residues onto your food!
And it’s easy as that – throw the ingredients together in the slow cooker and let it simmer away on low for 6 to 8 hours. When you come home from work, swirl in the spinach and tomato paste and this soup will be ready to serve.
I don’t know about you, but I love a quick and easy weeknight meal like this. Once you’ve made this soup, check out these 14 crazy good soup recipes. Delicious soups without a spoonful of guilt!
Yields: 6 servings | Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Calories: 149 | Total Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 104mg | Carbohydrates: 29g | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 3g | Protein: 9g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 4
- 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped small
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped small
- 1/2 cup carrot, peeled and chopped small
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped small
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the tomato paste and spinach. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours.
- After the cook time is complete and the lentils are tender, stir in the tomato paste and spinach. Cover and cook for 20 more minutes on high or until the spinach is wilted.
- Spoon into serving bowls and enjoy!