Lentil Soup with Coconut, Spinach & Lime

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 14 votes

A soul-satisfying golden lentil soup with sweet potatoes, coconut, spinach & lime. This healthy slow cooker recipe is simple and cozy.

An overhead shot of bowls of a deep orange lentil soup with spinach, along with bread served on the side.
An 3/4 angle shot of a bowl of a deep orange lentil soup with spinach, along with bread served on the side.
Image shows ingredients for a sweet potato and lentil soup.
Image shows red lentils being rinsed under a faucet.


Sliding in with a golden lentil soup recipe that may not be the most holiday-appropriate (oopsy–check this page if you need some Thanksgiving inspiration). You know what is appropriate though? Nourishing yourself simply as the social engagements start lining up and the to-do lists grow ever-longer. Even if you can detach yourself from some of the pressures of the holidays, the general atmosphere can be high-strung. From late November until the end of the year, your focus and precious time are stuck in a tug-of-war between your best intentions for calm and the seriously high demands of the season. Am I being dramatic or does anyone else feel this way at some point?

Throw some extra sugar, booze, the somewhat cluttered nature of festive decor (it’s cute but…), and a serious uptick in random spending on things most of us probably don’t need… and the grind of the holidays gets real so fast.

I don’t think food can solve all of these problems, but maybe slow cooking can? I mostly use my slow cooker for large batches of chickpeas, black beans etc. If I’m doing a more “finished product” kind of dish, I usually slam it on the high setting to get it done faster. The thing about slow cookers though, whether you use the high or low setting, is that they are quietly getting it done while you focus on other things. I know that this isn’t breaking news, but a reminder might be helpful!

This golden lentil soup is somewhat similar to the root vegetable dal from my book, but with a significant coconut, lime, and spinach twist (and obviously the slow cooker twist). Another difference: the lentils seem to keep their shape in this recipe, despite the long cooking time.

I run a sweet potato and onion through a box grater here so that the wispy shreds slowly melt around the lentils, eventually forming the body of the soup. Once you measure up your spices and grab a few pantry staples, this soup is pretty much in the bag. It’s a big batch that will feed you well for a while. If you enjoy this flavour combination, I bet you’ll like my ginger sweet potato stew with coconut milk and kale.

All my slow cooker fans, hope you try this one!

Image shows a kitchen scene with open shelving and canned ingredients open on the counter.
Image shows a can of coconut. Milk being poured into a slow cooker insert, along with other soup ingredients.
An overhead shot of an orange sweet potato and lentil soup in a slow cooker.
Image shows baby spinach being added to a lentil soup.
An 3/4 angle shot of bowls of a deep orange lentil soup with spinach, along with bread served on the side.

Golden Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Coconut Milk & Lime

A soul-satisfying golden lentil soup with sweet potatoes, coconut, spinach & lime. This healthy slow cooker recipe is simple and cozy.
5 from 14 votes
Golden lentil soup with coconut spinach and lime, photographed from overhead in a deep blue bowl, garnished with a dollop of coconut yogurt. There is a wood board with sliced bread nearby. All is photographed on a beige linen tablecloth.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled (mine was around 375 grams)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
  • 1 ½ cups split red lentils
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 14.5 ounce 428 ml can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 ounce 428 ml can light coconut milk
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2-3 dried curry leaves (optional)
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups tightly packed baby spinach (or more if you like!)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • sea salt, to taste
  • chopped cilantro

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker

Notes

  • I only add the salt at the very end because I’m paranoid about adding it early and the lentils becoming tough as a result.
  • This recipe is naturally oil-free, but I stirred a little coconut oil into the cooker at the end for that lush, fatty slick up top. Not necessary though!
  • Grating sweet potatoes makes a huge mess, so I really do recommend doing it right within the slow cooker’s insert to keep it tidy.
  • I dropped a dense dollop of coconut milk yogurt on top of our servings and it was heavenly. Highly recommend it!
  • I think you could swing this on the “low” setting for 7-8 hours. One thing to remember is that spices tend to lose their power once you get into the 6-8 hour timeline. Taste and adjust if need be!

Instructions

  • Set a box grater over/inside your slow cooker insert. Grate the sweet potato directly into the insert. Grate the yellow onion directly into the insert as well.
  • Rinse the red lentils thoroughly, until they stop foaming up in the strainer. Shake the excess moisture off and transfer them to your slow cooker insert.
  • To the insert, add the garlic, ginger, crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, water, turmeric, cayenne, mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves, and black pepper. Give it all a good stir. In all honesty it’s going to look sort of gross at this point.
  • Place the insert into your slow cooker unit, lock the lid on top, and set the cooker to “high.” Let the soup cook for 4 hours.
  • Once the 4 hours are up, carefully remove the lid and stir the soup up a bit. Add the spinach, lime juice, and enough salt to season to your liking. Stir the soup one more time and lock the lid back on. Keep the soup going on the “high” setting until the spinach is wilted.
  • Serve the golden lentil soup hot with chopped cilantro.





15/11/2017 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, coconut milk, creamy, earthy, gluten free, Instant Pot, lentils, main course, nut free, oil free, refined sugar-free, soup, sour, spring, sweet, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, umami, vegan, winter

51 comments

5 from 14 votes (8 ratings without comment)

Recipe Rating




  • Meaghan

    Question: I’m making your recipe and do not have any black mustard seed. What can I substitute them with? And if there’s not a good substitute, should I modify the recipe in any way to compensate? Thank you!!!

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Meaghan,
      You can simply leave it out. There’s a lot of other great flavour going on here without it :)
      -L

  • Claudia

    5 stars
    I dusted off my crock pot for this recipe & it was most definitely worth the effort. While the soup was simmering in the crock pot, I had ample time to prepare a salad and an entree [vegan butternut galette with shallots, apples, and black pepper crust]. Thank you, Laura, for another recipe that’s a keeper. xoxo

  • LaurenMarie

    5 stars
    This came out really well. I added the coconut oil at the end, too, and I think it did a lot to bring the flavors together. As others have said in their own reviews, this will be a new go-to meal in my home. Thank you for this fine recipe. I can’t wait to try others!

  • Joy

    5 stars
    This is so delicious! I didn’t have crushed tomatoes, so I used a can of chunked tomatoes. I used a bit of curry powder instead of curry leaves. I added about a tablespoon of Trader Joe’s date syrup. Instead of coconut milk, I used coconut cream plus water. I halved all the ingredients except the tomatoes. I didn’t have cilantro on hand, which sounds good and I will try it next time. I used brown lentils because I didn’t have red. But even a friend who has only eaten Indian food once loved it. Definitely a keeper, which is rare in my experience.

  • HWalker

    5 stars
    Super yummy!! Thanks for sharing❤️

  • Naheed

    I made this today as a healthy veggie meal choice. It looks amazing and taste amazing!! Love it. The lime juice makes it all come together. I didn’t have any light coconut so had to go for the thick creamy version. I hadn’t heard of crushed tomatoes in UK so went for tin of chopped which was fine. This will be a regular in my house. 

  • gabrielle

    5 stars
    BEST SOUP EVER 

  • Cécile

    5 stars
    This came together quickly! I was short on time and used the instant pot instead on the soup setting. added spinach to serving bowls before ladling the soup on top and letting the heat of the soup wilt the spinach. It came out great

    • Laura

      Thanks for this helpful comment, Cécile! I know there’s lots of Instant Pot users that read here, and this tip will be so helpful to them. Really appreciate it!
      -L

    • tembii

      hey, question, i have an instant pot too, how long did you cook it for in the instant pot? and on high or low? thanks!

  • Arica

    Wow. This soup is so easy and absolutely excellent. The flavors are on point. Feels creamy and indulgent while being healthy. Didn’t have the mustard seeds but it still came out so so good! Topped it with cashew yogurt and it was divine. Definitely a keeper!!!

  • Tory

    Have you ever frozen portions of this meal? I absolutely love it, but I made a full batch this week when I really should have only made a half batch. I can’t see myself finishing it and would hate to waste this goodness!

    • Laura

      This soup is definitely freezable! It’s better if you can leave the spinach and lime out before freezing though. Then you can just stir them in once you reheat portions of the soup. Outside of that though, the soup’s integrity holds up to freezing just fine.
      -L

  • Tracee

    Just made this tonight and absolutely loved it! The only change I made was to add an extra half a can of coconut milk I had in my fridge because I love the creaminess but it certainly doesn’t need it. The flavors are great and as an omnivore, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Even all my carnivore guy friends loved it. This is my third time making one of Laura’s recipes and I have never been disappointed. And as a bonus, it is also inexpensive to make!

  • meshell

    I make this again and again, it’s excellent. Thanks for such a great recipe, it’s so versatile and flexible too.

    I have honestly made this a dozen times and even with a few slight additions or variations (carrots, white potatoes, paprika, etc) it is just wonderful.

  • Patricia

    Recipes look wonderful..anxious to try some

  • Shana

    Hi Laura,
    I’m looking forward to trying this slow cooker soup…I love making soups in the slow cooker on work days.
    I’m in the market for a new slow cooker, so I’m wondering if you have a favorite. I’d love to get one whose insert can be used both on the stove, then into the slow cooker. The ones I’ve seen have a teflon lining, which is a deal breaker for me. Any suggestions?
    In peace, Shana

    • Laura

      Hi Shana,
      I have a very basic Crockpot model and it’s the only one I’ve ever used. My insert is not stove-safe unfortunately, so cannot comment on that. Might be best to look at some of the more slow cooker-focused food blogs and see what they recommend.
      -L

  • Donna in Inwood

    I made this tonight and it’s yummy, but a bit too spicy for me. I’m surprised none of the other comments mentioned it. I didn’t use the optional curry, just the suggested half teaspoon of cayenne, and I’m sorry I did — I should have cut it in half. The creaminess of the coconut milk almost offsets it, but not quite. That said, it’s a nice combination of flavors. Also, it was impossible to find black mustard seed. I probably looked in 3 or 4 stores.

  • Maura Leppo

    Love this! If you were inspired to develop more slow-cooker recipes it would SO appreciated. There just aren’t many plant-based ones out there.

  • Mary Burgess

    Just tried this recipe this week! It was really delicious, but I would recommend cooking in veggie stock for some added flavor. Really good!

  • Amy

    Put this soup on the dinner menu this week! I’m going to cook it overnight tonight- can’t wait to try it!

  • Sarah

    So excited to try this! We just got our first dusting of snow here in little eastern IA. It’s perfect timing! Now..to just find the perfect loaf of bread to use as my “spoon.” :)

  • Jo

    Hi Laura, I’m hugely happy and grateful to have found your blog. I’m going to make this soup and the ultimate vegan snack board for our forthcoming Christmas party. I don’t have a slow cooker, but will use our Le Creuset casserole (made of cast iron and enamel) on a low heat in the oven. So excited!!

  • Rachel

    Hey! This looks beyond amazing. I can’t wait to try it. I was wondering if I could use regular brown lentils instead?
    Xoxo

    • Laura

      You can! The brown lentils typically take longer to cook, but since this is happening in a slow cooker, time shouldn’t be an issue. The only difference I’m worried about is the overall creaminess/unity of the soup. The split red lentils kind of break down in this soup and contribute to the creamy texture. The brown lentils are more likely to stay whole throughout the cooking process. Let me know what it’s like if you try it!
      -L

      • Rachel

        So I tried it with the brown lentils andddd….. it was AMAZING! I used full fat coconut milk and cooked it for an hour longer so they didn’t stay whole. It was so so good. Thank you for this amazing recipe!

  • Amanda | Whats cooking

    I just made this and it was so good! I’m bringing it to Thanksgiving at my parents. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll definitely be making this again. It definitely rivals the delicious daal recipe in your book! So much goodness to choose from. It also happens to be beautiful when it’s done. have a great weekend!

  • Aleisha

    This looks amazing! I have been looking for some vegan slow cooker recipes and this definitely fits the bill. The slow cooker is so fantastic for busy families like mine but a lot of the recipes that I see online include animal products so, like you, I mostly use mine for cooking beans. Please share more recipes like this!

    Also, can you share what brand of coconut yogurt you use?

    • Laura

      Hi Aleisha!
      Thank you so much. My favourite coconut yogurt brand is Anita’s, which is only available on the east coast in the US right now I think. I make the odd trip over to New York state and always make sure that I grab it. So rich, tangy and delicious.
      -L

  • chrissie

    I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious! Thank you

  • Jill

    This looks delicious and can’t wait to put it in rotation for the winter!
    Regarding your comment about not salting lentils at the start : here is an article to read that explains why you should salt…http://www.seriouseats.com/2017/11/how-to-make-french-lentils.html#comments-301071 Even though this is about french lentils I’m sure it applies across the board with all lentils.
    He also has a good article about beans and the myth about not salting cooking water. And actually, it’s not the salt that will make a bean skin tough but something acidic, like tomato :)

  • Audra

    I’ve been looking for a hearty slow cooker recipe, so thank you so much for this. These flavourings are perfect for this time of years, and I love that it’s lentil-based. Soups don’t normally fill me up, but this was almost like a curry which is great. Love everything you come up with! Looking forward to cooking up some of your recipes for the holidays :)

  • Kara

    Hi ~ Can this be made without using a slow cooker? I have one but would love to get in this in my belly tonight and I don’t have the 4 hours to slow cook.

    Thanks!

    • Laura

      So sorry for the late response! See my reply to Anna for this one ;)
      -L

  • Anna

    This looks AMAZING! But there has to be away of doing it without a slow cooker?!

    • Laura

      A few people messaged me on Instagram saying that they simply made the soup as-is on the stovetop! I’m guessing they brought everything to a boil and let it simmer until everything was tender and incorporated/smooth and creamy.
      -L

  • Jessie Snyder

    You are so not the only one who feels this way, and I think you described the struggle for balance perfectly. Really wishing I hadn’t given away our slow cooker years ago, but may need to try to remedy it in my pressure cooker soon ;) we’ll see how it goes! Hugs Laura.

  • Heather

    This looks so, so good! I’m going to give it a try this week, do you have any general suggestions for adapting to make it on the stove?

  • Erin at Pure Feast

    Seriously LOVE using my slow cooker, and lentils, coconut milk and curry spices is one of my favourite combos. Can’t wait to try this recipe! The shredded sweet potato is genius.

  • Liz K

    I’ve been having trouble finding regular old mustard seeds, are the black ones that different? Heading to whole foods today to see if they will have a better selection than my usual grocery store.

    • Laura

      The yellow ones will work just fine. The black ones tend to be a bit more pungent, but in the grand scheme of this soup, I don’t think you would notice too much of a difference.I feel like Whole Foods will definitely have them though.
      -L

  • Nic

    Hi Laura…this looks so amazing that i want to try it TODAY!. Just a quick question on the level of garlic… do you think it would impact too much on the flavour if i reduced it down to, say, two cloves? Five sounds tasty but i am out in company tomorrow and wonder whether the aftermath of the garlic could be too much :-)
    Thanks so much….

    • Laura

      You could definitely cut the garlic. This soup has enough going on flavour-wise to reduce it! ;)
      -L

  • Nandita

    Love the photos of your kitchen shelves and love this simple recipe! Totally winter friendly :)

  • Sarah | Well and Full

    My Thanksgiving/Christmas last year was kind of muted, so I’m excited to dive into all the holiday fluffery!! That being said, I’m NOT down for all the sugar/snacks/heavy food that the holidays usually bring. My body’s been asking me to eat lighter lately, and it makes me feel more energetic when I’m not being “weighed down”. So soups, salads, and vegetable-heavy dishes are the way I’m going this year!!

  • Kylie M.

    Wow this lentil soup looks incredible!!

  • Katrina

    Such a comforting soup! I love the lime in there!

  • Alice

    I don’t have a slow cooker…. but now I really want one. If only I can find the space for it. :)

    The soup looks so good & substantial full-course soups are my favorite thing. I don’t cook with lentils nearly enough, but I love their flavor so I need to get on it and make this.

    • Laura

      They are seriously all huge haha. I have to keep mine in my basement because my kitchen’s on the small side ;)
      -L