Slow Cooker German Lentil Soup with Sausage

Slow Cooker German Lentil Soup is enhanced with sausage, carrots, and a flavorful broth that simmer the day away in a hearty, comforting, crockpot soup!

Slow Cooker German Lentil Soup is enhanced with sausage, carrots, and a flavorful broth that simmer the day away in a hearty, comforting, crockpot soup! | fivehearthome.com


 

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 in a White Bowl with Fresh Parsley Garnish

German Lentils

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.

In a White Bowl with a Garnish of Fresh Parsley and Served with Crackers

Optional: Browning the Sausage

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. 😉 ***

Close-Up

A Note About the Carrots

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.

Simmered for Hours in the Crock Pot and Served in a White Bowl for Your Enjoyment

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?

More Warm & Hearty Soups

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

Slow Cooker German Lentils with Sausage

Lentils, sausage, carrots, and a flavorful broth simmer the day away in this hearty, comforting, slow cooker soup.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: German
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 434kcal
Print Pin Rate

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
  • ¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoon dried parsley, OR ½ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 to 2 cups diced kielbasa sausage, OR ham
  • Apple cider vinegar for serving, optional

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until lentils are tender.
  • Before serving, remove bay leaf and stir in 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, if desired.

Notes

  • 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.
  • Since the type of chicken broth that you use can dictate the saltiness of the dish, 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)!

Nutrition

Calories: 434kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 889mg | Potassium: 1135mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 9515IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 5.7mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

Adapted from AllRecipes.com.

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74 Comments

  1. Is there a way of cutting way back on the potassium? I'm not allowed to eat foods with a lot of potassium . Actually I'm quite limited on it.

    1. Hi again, Betty! I'm so sorry that I'm not able to advise on nutritional or medical matters. However, I can say that lentils are naturally high in potassium. So if you're supposed to limit potassium, a lentil recipe might be something to avoid in general. I would ask your doctor. 🙂

  2. This sounds really good. I was wondering if I could prep the soup the day before. I am not a morning person and it takes so long to cook.

    1. Hi Betty! You can absolutely prep this soup the day before! You can shred the carrots (if you didn't already buy them shredded), slice the sausage, and measure out the dry seasonings into a small container. Store the carrots and the sausage in the fridge and leave the seasonings on the counter. In the morning, simply rinse the lentils, place them in the slow cooker, and dump in the other ingredients...it shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Hope that helps and hope you enjoy! 🙂

      1. Thoughts on using ground sausage if you’ve got it. And would “regular” or Italian work? Next time I’ll buy beef link for sure. Also great northern or Catalina beans work?

        1. Hi Lawdida! I'm sure this recipe could be adapted to use any flavor of ground sausage that you like as well as a different type of beans. However, I'm unfortunately unable to advise on how it's going to turn out or taste as I haven't tested those substitutions myself. 🙂

  3. Do you think adding a couple boneless chicken thighs, as well as the sausage, would work?

    1. I've never tried it, Heather, but I don't see why it wouldn't work! Kind of like a German jambalaya. 😉

    1. You could certainly try this recipe using a different type of bean, Sandra! But keep in mind that the amount of liquid and cooking time may need to be adjusted. 🙂

  4. What seasonings can I add to give more flavor. I added a little salt but it still lacks
    Flavor. I am taking some to a German friend who is under the weather.

    1. Hi Nancy! This recipe includes a variety of seasonings, so continuing to add salt (1/4 teaspoon at a time) should make those other flavors pop. That being said, you can increase any of the seasonings to your liking, particularly the Worcestershire, garlic powder, and celery salt. I'd just be careful not to go overboard with the nutmeg. Hope that helps and hope your friend feels better soon!

  5. I have this cooking right now and it's almost done - but looks a lot more "soupy" than it looks in your photos. Hopefully that last hour will find the lentils absorbing just a bit more liquid. I'll hold judgement until I serve, but I'm already figuring I might have to cut back the amount of liquid if I make it again. It smells heavenly. Keep fingers crossed mine tastes as good as yours.

    1. Homemade whole wheat pretzels would be amazing with this soup, Ashley...yum! So happy you enjoyed it. 🙂

  6. Hi Samantha, I caught this recipe in my e-mail from one of my slow cooker websites that I subscribe to.

    I have one question. What size slow cooker do you use for this recipe?

    I have two sizes - the old Rival 3 1/2 qt. slow cooker with removable ceramic liner and their larger version - 6 quart. It's just the hubby and myself, so should I half the recipe for the smaller size? Other than that, the recipe looks amazing!!

    1. Hi Cindy! I always use a large, 6- to 7-quart slow cooker when I make this recipe. You will definitely have leftovers cooking for just the two of you, so you could certainly cut the recipe in half and make it in your smaller slow cooker if you prefer. Just be sure to watch the liquid level the first time you try it since I'm not positive if halving the recipe might affect the recipe. Enjoy! 🙂

  7. To veggie the recipe I substituted mushrooms sautéed in butter and a dash of liquid hickory smoke - worked like a charm.

    1. Those sound like great additions, Gary...thanks for sharing and I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe! 🙂

  8. I'm going to use this for New Years. I've always done the traditional Hoppin' John, but my man's favorite legume is lentils, so will give this a whirl. It's similar to a traditional New Years Hungarian lentil (lentils and sausage eaten on New Years are said to bring good luck for the year) dish. I like the fun of recipes that are a seasonal tradition, and with our German background, this will be perfect!

    1. What a great idea to make this for New Year's, Serena! I didn't realize that lentils were considered lucky in some traditions...we always do black-eyed peas (even though I prefer lentils), so I might have to change that. 😉 Enjoy and Happy New Year (in a few weeks)!

  9. This looks delicious. However, I must have done something wrong because the lentils basically disappeared. The remaining liquid and sausage was tasty though lol

    1. Well, darn, Elizabeth...maybe your slow cooker runs on the hot side? At any rate, I hope you're able to try this again with a shorter cooking time and that the lentils stick around... 😉

  10. This was sooooo delicious. I make lentils all kinds of ways all the time, but this was the best by far! It's very reminiscent of Carrabba's lentil and sausage soup. I used Guiness brats in this and browned first. What a treat! Thanks!

    1. I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe, Jas! I've never had the lentil soup at Carrabba's but maybe I need to add it to my list! 😉 Thanks for taking the time to comment and hope you have a great weekend!

  11. I absolutely LOVE this recipe. Only changes I made...I used Andouille sausage, fresh garlic instead of powder, and added a tablespoon of cumin and a pound of trimmed green beans (Staples my Grandma always added). I was a victim of Hurricane Sandy and lost all of my recipes that were passed down from my family. This is the closest to my German grandmother's recipe I have found. Thank you so much!!!!

    1. I'm so sorry to hear that you were a victim of Hurricane Sandy, Melanie, but I'm thrilled that this recipe is similar to the one that you lost from your German Grandma! Your modifications sound great...I'll have to try them the next time I make lentils. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I hope that you're having a great week!

  12. Made this yesterday and it was wonderful. I only used 8 cups of water/broth..couldn't fit more in my crock pot and added two finely diced potatoes and not as many carrots! It still turned out excellent. Thank you for sharing! Lentil soup is my favorite! 😀

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Dagmar! I bet it was extra tasty with the potatoes... 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to let me know that it was a hit...hope you have a great weekend!

  13. Samantha--the soup was a hit!! Big time. Not only did I impress the guy, I impressed myself. Rich, full bodied, and the combination of spices were perfect! I made mini crescent dinner rolls which disappeared quickly. I also browned the sausage but the extra pan didn't bother me -- one look at my guy's face told me all was worth it. Thanks for your response and again for your site! I like you better than Pinterest!

    1. Yay!!! I'm so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit, Jo Ann! I'm sure that the mini crescent rolls were delicious on the side -- I'll have to try them the next time I make this soup. 🙂 I really appreciate your sweet comment...I'm glad you enjoy the blog and hope you find many more recipes that you and your guy enjoy just as much as this one. 😉 Have a great week!

  14. 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)

    1. 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! 🙂