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Slow Cooker German Lentil Soup with Sausage

Lentils, sausage, carrots, and a flavorful broth simmer the day away in this hearty, comforting, slow cooker soup.

Slow Cooker German Lentil Soup with Sausage | {Five Heart Home}A few days ago on Facebook, I asked for reader input about what type of recipes you’d like to see on Five Heart Home in the upcoming months. While I got a variety of answers, there was one overwhelming consensus…crock pot fare! And you know what? That’s just fabulous because, as a busy mom of three, I love and rely on my trusty slow cooker, too.

The recipe I’m sharing today is one if my family’s all-time favorites. I lose count of how often we eat this during the cold-weather months, and even then, nobody ever gets tired of it. My boys cheer when it’s on the menu and even my eats-like-a-bird middle child scarfs down a whole bowl.

So after all of those endorsements, you may be wondering why I’ve been holding out on posting this recipe. Well, I’m ashamed to admit it’s because I was worried this soup wasn’t “pretty” enough to photograph well. After all, lentils can look kind of brown and mushy. But I finally got over my qualms because, prepared like this, lentils are so tasty that you won’t care a bit if they aren’t magazine cover worthy.

Slow Cooker German Lentil Soup with Sausage | {Five Heart Home}We love our beans and legumes around here, but lentils just might rank up there as the most popular of them all. Are you already a fan of lentils? If you’re not, or if you’ve never tried them, I strongly encourage you to give this recipe a go. In fact, I have a little story for you that will act as a testament to how good these lentils truly are.

My mom is from Germany, where lentils and spaetzle (homemade noodle dumplings) are common fare. When I was growing up, she cooked lentils quite often. And you know what? I never liked them. I happily wolfed down my spaetzle, but I always thought the lentils tasted bland. Fast forward to my own adulthood. One day I came across a recipe for “German” lentil soup on a recipe sharing website. It got positive reviews, so I decided to adapt it to my liking and give it a go. Imagine my amazement when WOW. These lentils were awesome!

Not too long after that fateful day, my mom was at my house for dinner one evening and tasted my new and improved lentils. Well…guess who asked for the recipe and now uses it in lieu of her authentic, old-world recipe? Yup, this slow cooker lentil soup — brimming with sausage, grated carrots, garlic, parsley, and a variety of herbs and spices — is that good.

Slow Cooker German Lentil Soup with Sausage | {Five Heart Home}As I typically do in recipes calling for broth, I use Organic Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base (one of my favorite kitchen staples) stirred into the water (no need to dissolve it first…the heat of the crock pot will do that for you as the soup cooks). Also, I often use cubed ham instead of sausage in these lentils for equally delicious results. However, if you use sausage, it’s up to you whether you want to brown it in a pan before adding it to the crock pot.

I have a personal philosophy related to slow cooker recipes and it goes something like this: if I’m cooking dinner in my crock pot, it’s because I’m running short on time and/or won’t be home most of the day. That means I want to be able to quickly throw my ingredients in the crock pot and go on my merry way. I tend to believe it defeats a crock pot’s fundamental purpose if I have to dirty up another pan and take the time to brown meat before proceeding with the recipe. I know that many people swear by the browning step, particularly when preparing roasts and such, but I usually skip it and don’t notice much of a difference in the end result. My only exception, of course, would be recipes calling for ground beef, since that won’t exactly brown and drain itself in the slow cooker.

All of this is to say…if you toss your sausage into this recipe without pre-browning it in a pan, it’s going to be fine. On the other hand, if browning it in a pan first is more your style, knock yourself out. If you really want to retain the almost crispy, browned sausage texture, don’t add it to the soup until the end of the cooking time. And that is your friendly public service announcement for the day.

*** Disclaimer: I did brown a few slices of sausage for this post’s photography purposes. Remember? Ugly lentils? I’ll admit that browning does help with aesthetics. ;) ***

Slow Cooker German Lentil Soup with Sausage | {Five Heart Home}One final note about the carrots and I’ll get on with the recipe. I like to shred my carrots (speedy quick in the food processor) because they end up almost melting into the soup and my kids eat them without drama. If you use the full pound of carrots, it’s going to seem like a lot when you put them into the slow cooker, but they really do cook down when shredded/grated. If you prefer slicing your carrots instead, that will work just as well, but you may want to use a bit less since they’re going to remain more noticeable in the final dish. And if you’re really crunched for time, you can even buy a bag of matchstick carrots in the produce section.

Creeping towards 1000 words, I’m going to stop now. Just promise me that you’ll try this lentil soup, mmmkay? It’s not fancy, but it’s filling and comforting and even nutritious…absolutely perfect for the chilly weather we’ve been having.

Heck, who am I kidding? While I do cook it more frequently in the fall and winter, this soup is so darn tasty that my family requests it all year long. That’s right, folks…if you find us eating this crock pot wonder come August, it’s probably because my 4-year-old requested “wentils” for dinner. And who could say no to that?

Slow Cooker German Lentil Soup with Sausage | {Five Heart Home}

Slow Cooker German Lentils with Sausage

Yield: 8 servings

Slow Cooker German Lentils with Sausage

Lentils, sausage, carrots, and a flavorful broth simmer the day away in this hearty, comforting, slow cooker soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried brown lentils, picked over, rinsed & drained
  • 10 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 pound grated carrots (or less, depending on your preference)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoon dried parsley (or 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 to 2 cups of cubed kielbasa sausage (or ham)
  • Apple cider vinegar for serving, optional

Directions

  1. Place lentils in slow cooker. Add chicken stock, carrots, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, parsley, garlic powder, celery salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in sausage.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until lentils are tender.
  3. Before serving, remove bay leaf and stir in 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, if desired.

Tips, Tricks, & Variations

You may use green lentils if your grocery store doesn't carry brown, but I find that they take longer to cook before becoming tender.

In lieu of chicken broth/stock, I use about 2 tablepoons of Organic Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base with 10 cups of water. Between that and the sausage, the soup should be salty enough, but you can always taste at the end of the cooking time and add more salt, if necessary.

I usually buy a 1 pound link of sausage, use half of it in this soup, and then freeze the other half to use the next time I make the recipe.

You may brown the sausage by sautéing it in a pan before adding it to the slow cooker, if desired.

The first time you make this recipe, watch the liquid level carefully and add more broth if necessary. If you're at home, give it a quick stir halfway through. About an hour before you're ready to eat, stir and check the doneness of the lentils and turn the crock pot up to high for the last hour of cooking time if they're still too firm.

It's normal for the top and sides of this soup to become darker in color. The flavor is not affected, so just stir and everything will blend together.

If you're not sure about using the apple cider vinegar, start with a few drops and taste before adding more. But I really do think it makes a difference (for the better)!

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/01/08/slow-cooker-german-lentil-soup-with-sausage/

Adapted from AllRecipes.com.

More warm & hearty soups

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White Bean, Kale, & Sausage Soup ~ a cozy, filling soup that's packed with nutrients and comes together in under 30 minutes! | FiveHeartHome.com

Slow Cooker Chicken & White Bean Chili
Slow Cooker / Crock Pot Chicken and White Bean Chili ~ garnish with cilantro, tortilla chips, cheese, avocado chunks, salsa, etc. | {Five Heart Home}

Slow Cooker Corn & Potato Chowder with Ham
Slow Cooker Corn and Potato Chowder with Ham | FiveHeartHome.com

Parmesan Potato & Cauliflower Soup
Parmesan Potato and Cauliflower Soup | {Five Heart Home}

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Slow Cooker Balsamic & Herb Beef Stew with Cornbread Waffles | FiveHeartHome.com

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup
Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup ~ your crock pot does all the work for this warm and comforting soup, made hearty (but not heavy) by the addition of diced ham, potatoes, and carrots | {Five Heart Home}

And see all of our recipes <<< HERE!

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Comments

  1. So funny that you haven’t posted this because you didn’t think it would be pretty enough. It has my mouth watering! And I am so happy to hear that you skip the browning step!! That keeps me from making SO MANY crock pot recipes. So, I have one on the menu for this week, and it calls for browning bone in chicken before I throw it in. You’d just skip that?? Cuz that’d be awesome. Love this recipe!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Well Lisa, I primarily skip the browning step because I’m lazy. :) If a crock pot recipe calls for browning, I either don’t make it, or I make it without the browning step and it generally turns out fine. Of course, it may have turned out 100 times better had I had browned the meat, but I suppose I’ll never know! ;) So I don’t want to give you advice on someone else’s recipe, but I have made bone-in chicken recipes in the slow cooker sans browning with good results. I think the browning step is mainly to give the meat better color and depth of flavor…but I’ll take my chances for one less pot to wash! Ha!

  2. This looks so delicious! I think this needs to be on next week’s dinner menu for sure. I love lentils too, and I’m so glad you shared this recipe. You’re photos are beautiful too! :)

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Tiffany! This recipe is so easy and so tasty that it ends up on our dinner menu quite often. :) I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

  3. I skip the browning step as well. Of course, I just eyeball most ingredients because I’m too lazy to measure things :) I’m adding this to next week’s meal plan. My family will be happy to have a new recipe in the crock pot rotation.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I’m with you, Shannon…I eyeball ingredients quite often as well. However, since I’ve started blogging, I now have to remember to measure everything out so that I have specific directions to share! ;) I’m glad you’re going to try this soup…I think (and hope) your family will enjoy it! Happy Friday!

  4. Hey, I think its magazine cover worthy! Beautiful pics girl! Love how you prop your photos, thats one area I feel like I need to work on. Any advice?

    The soup does soup amazing, I just had a delicious Middle Eastern Lentil Soup and it was delicious so totally need to try this one. Pinning it girl! :) Thanks

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You are so sweet, Krista. I feel like I still have a long way to go with my photo props and food styling…but I suppose we are all our own worst critics. ;) I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement in your photos lately (not that they weren’t great to start with!), so I’d advise you to just stay on the same track! :)

      Thanks so much for the pin…enjoy the lentils, and have a great weekend!

      • You are so right in that, we can always find something wrong with ourselves or the things we do. :)

        Thank you so much for the sweet comments too, I have been really working hard at it. And yet again, another “goal” for the blog, improve photography. Its always fun learning, working hard, and then seeing it pay off. Love ya girl! Have a great weekend!

  5. This looks AMAZING! And now I’m starving … I really should not visit blogs while I’m hungry! Ha!

    Pinning for sure!

    Thanks so much for the amazing inspiration!

    :) Linda

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thank you so much for the sweet words, Linda! And I have the same problem visiting food blogs when I’m already hungry… ;) Hope you’re having a great week…thanks for stopping by!

  6. OMG!! That looks sooooo good! Talk about comfort food! I’ll be right over! Yum!

  7. What a beautiful soup, Samantha! As for browning the sausage..you gotta do what you gotta do to get a great shot, right? Plus, browned sausage tastes pretty darn good!

    Stopping by from I Should Be Mopping the Floor. Pinned!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You’re so right, Julie… browned sausage really is tasty. I just usually don’t take the time for that step! Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just plop our recipes on the table and take pics of them as-is without that little bit of styling first? ;) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Samantha, your lentil soup looks amazing and I’ll have to try it with sausage (and dumplings, lol!) Thank you so much for joining us and sharing at Best of the Weekend – pinned! Hope you have a happy Monday!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thank you, Cindy! Sausage and dumplings would make for some pretty good soup, huh? ;) I love joining y’all’s link party each week and I always appreciate your generous pins. Hope you have a great day!

  9. I love lentils, but did not discover them until my adult years! I made my mom a dish with them recently and she, too, asked for the recipe. Oh, and I am with you on the slow cooker front, it defeats the purpose to have a one pot meal if you’re browning before.
    Stopping by from Tasty Tuesday.
    Jenni

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much for hopping over, Jenni! If you love lentils, I think you’ll really enjoy these! Isn’t it nice to have our moms ask us for recipes sometimes? Makes me feel like I’m doing something right! ;) And I’m happy to hear that so many people share my no-extra-pot philosophy about crock pot usage…ha!

  10. Looks wonderful, especially because it all takes place in a crock pot. Can’t wait to try it… already pinned! Thanks! Your pictures look great, too!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thank you, Amy! I totally agree…any recipe looks better when it can be cooked in a crock pot! I appreciate your sweet words about my photos, and I hope you enjoy this one when you try it! :)

  11. Thats one hearty bowl of soup. Still wondering why you held yourself from posting it before. It sounds delicious and looks gorgeous. I could have a bowl of that soup any day.

    Thank you so much for sharing it with Tasty Tuesday. I have pinned it and featured it this week and will also be sharing it in fb, and G+. Have a good day. Hope you drop by and link in such fantastic recipes this week.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thank you so much, Tanusree! I really appreciate your kind words, the pin, and the shares! I already linked up with this week’s Tasty Tuesday earlier today…thanks for being one of the hosts! Hope you are having a wonderful week… :)

  12. What temp is used for this recipe? low or high? Thanks,Pat

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Well that is a really good question, Pat! The lentils should be cooked on LOW. Thanks so much for pointing out that I left off that important info…I’ve gone back and fixed it in the recipe. Have a great day! :)

  13. Love your blog and loved this recipe! I made it last night for my family of 6 for supper, and everyone chowed down! I was surprised how well the sausage did after hours in the slowcooker. My kids had never tried lentils before–it was a great way to expose them to a new legume. Thanks for a great recipe for a big busy family.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment, Kelly! I’m very happy to hear that this soup was a hit with your family! I’ve known quite a few people who had never tried (or didn’t think they liked) lentils who ended up loving this recipe. And yes, the sausage gets a little softer in the slow cooker than it would by frying it in a pan and adding it at the end, but not in a bad way. It’s always been happily eaten by my family, so I save myself the extra pan to wash. ;) Thanks again for coming back to let me know how it turned out!

  14. Hi Samantha–
    We’re a German-American family and my husband loves it when I can make some traditional German meals! Thanks for posting this.
    Is it possible to cook for a shorter amount of time on high? I’m looking at it and would love to make it today for dinner…but I only have six hours instead of ten. :)
    What do you think?
    Thanks for your wonderful recipes!
    Best,
    Elizabeth

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Yes, Elizabeth, I think that a shorter amount of time on high should work just fine! Hope your family, and particularly your husband, enjoys it!

  15. I’m wondering what hot pepper sauce is. What are some brand names or something that helps me identify what I’m putting in there is actually what is supposed to go in there? I would love to not have the entire thing ruined because what I thought was not right. Thank you! This sounds awesome.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Christy! Great question. Hot pepper sauce is referring to something like Tabasco. There are plenty of other brands out there that would work as well (Louisiana Hot Sauce, etc.)…just any thin sauce made out of hot peppers should be fine. :) The recipe only calls for a small amount, so the pepper sauce doesn’t add heat to the soup…just flavor. You can add more for heat, or leave it out altogether and it probably won’t make much difference. Hope that helps…enjoy your lentils!

      • I made this for dinner tonight. Mine isn’t anywhere close to being as pretty as yours but it sure is tasty! Yum!

        • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

          I’m so glad to hear y’all liked it, Christy! And I’m going to be honest…when I make this soup, it usually isn’t all that pretty, either. I just had to make it look a little more attractive for the photos so that people would stop long enough to read the recipe! ;) Thanks for letting me know it was a hit. Have a great weekend!

  16. Theresa says:

    I saw this recipe on Pinterest. Just wanted you to know I found it on all recipes many tears ago when I first started making dinner. I love this soup, it is so good and easy in the crockpot. Thanks for reminding me, I’ll have to make it again soon

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Awww…I’m so glad you rediscovered this recipe here, Theresa! I love revisiting old, favorite recipes that I got out of the habit of making for some reason. Hope you enjoy this version as much as the original! Thanks for taking the time to comment…have a great rest of the week! :)

  17. Geri Siemens says:

    Thanks for this new ingredient to lentel soup. The sausage sounds like a great touch.
    In the past I have always used ham.
    When I make Corn Chowder I use sweet Italian sausage, it makes a world of difference in the flavor.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      What a great suggestion, Geri…sweet Italian sausage sounds like an excellent addition to just about any soup or chowder! I do make my lentils with ham sometimes as well, but I have to say that sausage is our favorite. ;) Hope you enjoy it if you have a chance to try it! Have a wonderful week and thanks so much for stopping by! :)

  18. Thanks for posting this–my grandmother is from Wiesbaden, Germany, so I grew up with the Dr. Oetker’s packets of dried lentil soup with some kielbasa thrown in. This looks wayyyyyy tastier (but don’t tell her I said that!)

    When you say “hot pepper sauce”, do you mean hot sauce, like Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot? Or do you mean something else?

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Kate! yes, if you grew up on packaged lentil soup with sausage, I think you will really love this recipe! ;) And yes, by hot pepper sauce, I was referring to something like Tabasco or Franks or any comparable brand…just something to add another layer of flavor using only a few drops. :)

  19. I can’t wait to make this recipe. The last time I made lentil soup I “winged it” and it was fine, but this looks like just what I need. I’m trying to impress a guy! (smile) And the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? Quick question though — should I serve this with, what? Rolls? Bread? I know it’s filling of course but would love some other serve-along ideas. Thanks for your time. I’m signing up for your blog. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your complete descriptions. Thank you!!! (I’m German through and through)

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Jo Ann! If you want to go authentic German, I’d serve this soup with spaetzle! But when I don’t have time to make spaetzle to go with it, we usually just eat it with butter crackers on the side or crumbled on top. Honestly, though, it would be tasty with just about any type of bread or rolls as well. I sure hope this impresses your guy…good luck! :)

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