Instant Pot Lentil Soup (Vegan)

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This hearty Lentil Soup makes an easy vegan lunch or dinner. It’s packed to the brim with veggies, and cooks in only 10 minutes when you use an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot. I love to make it when I meal prep on the weekend, so I always have something comforting, and easy to heat up, when I’m hungry!

Instant Pot lentil soup in a white bowl

After testing, literally, thousands of recipes in the Instant Pot while writing The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook, I’ve discovered that the Instant Pot brings out more flavor in food than traditional cooking methods. As a result, I don’t think it’s always necessary to saute the aromatics in olive oil before getting started.

I’ve actually tested this soup two ways. First, I sauteed the onions, carrots, and celery together in a little olive oil, and later added the garlic, to help bring out their flavor the way I would making any soup on the stove top. Next, I tried a much simpler preparation– simply throw all of the raw ingredients into the pot and press a button to start the pressure cooking cycle.

instant pot full of soup ingredients

In the end, both versions tasted the same to me, so I’ve omitted the initial sauté step in the healthy lentil soup recipe below, which reduces the fat and calories because you can omit the oil. As an added bonus, it also saves you the extra time and effort!

How to Cook Lentils in the Instant Pot

When cooking lentils, it’s really important that you don’t add any salt to them before cooking. After lots of failed recipe attempts, I learned that green or brown lentils cook in about 5 minutes when you don’t use salt, but they can take 30 minutes, or more, if you do add salt. In some cases, they never become tender when you add the salt. That’s why this recipe calls for adding the salt after the soup is cooked– don’t be tempted to add it early!

instant pot lentil soup recipe

Instant Pot Lentil Soup Cook Time

When working with an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, it’s important to take into account the total time it will take for your recipe to be ready– including the time it takes for the pot to come to pressure, the cooking cycle time, and the time it takes for the pressure to release. In the case of this soup, I like to use a pressure cooking cycle of 10 minutes, which makes the lentils and vegetables tender, without being mushy.

Including the pressurize time, and natural release, the total cooking time is closer to 30-35 minutes. Luckily, most of that time is totally hands-off, so it still feels like it’s faster than if you were to make it on the stove. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, be sure to look for the stove top directions below the recipe, too.)

lentil soup in white bowl overhead

Instant Pot lentil soup in a white bowl
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Instant Pot Lentil Soup (Vegan)

This healthy Lentil Soup is as easy as it gets-- simply pour the ingredients into an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, and press a button. With no added oil, and loads of vegetables included, it makes a nutritious vegan or vegetarian meal.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword lentil soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Natural Release: 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 128kcal


  • 1 yellow onion , chopped
  • 2 carrots , peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks , chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup dry green or brown lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt , plus more to taste
  • 1 cup fresh spinach , roughly chopped
  • lemon slices , for serving


  • In the bowl of the Instant Pot, combine the onion, carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, curry, cayenne (if using), lentils, water, and several grinds of black pepper. Do not add any salt yet. Stir well to combine.
  • Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Use the Manual or Pressure Cook button to cook for 10 minutes at high pressure. It should take 10 to 15 minutes for the pot to come to pressure, then the cooking cycle will begin to countdown.
  • When the cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting. When the floating valve drops, it's safe to remove the lid.
  • Give the soup a stir to make sure the lentils and vegetables are tender, then stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and the chopped fresh spinach. The greens should wilt quickly in the hot soup. Season with additional salt to taste, then serve warm with slices of lemon to help brighten the flavor even more.
  • Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.



Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 8g | Sodium: 425mg | Potassium: 446mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3935IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 2.8mg
Nutrition info is for 1 of 6 servings. This information is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.

best instant pot cookbook

Don’t have an Instant Pot?

Stove Top Directions: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, and saute the onion, carrots, and celery until they soften, about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic, cumin, curry, and cayenne, and stir for one more minute. Add in the diced tomatoes, lentils, water, and several grinds of black pepper, and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover to simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. When the lentils are tender, add more water if needed (evaporation can happen on the stove) and then stir in the spinach and season with the salt. Add more to taste, then serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Recipe Notes:

  • This soup is easily adaptable to use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I think it would be delicious with fire-roasted tomatoes and green chiles, but in that case I’d omit the cayenne pepper. The Instant Pot tends to accentuate the spiciness in foods, so always start with less spice than you think you need and add more after cooking, if necessary.
  • You can use vegetable broth instead of water, if you’d prefer to, but I like to save money by just using water– I think the vegetables provide plenty of flavor on their own!

Reader Feedback: Do you have a go-to soup recipe?

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Can this recipe be doubled without changes to the cooking time?

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, just make sure you don’t go over the max fill line in your Instant Pot! The pot will take longer to come to pressure with more liquid, so keep that in mind when planning the timing of your meal.

Marcella F

I just made this tonight. Very yummy. Now I have to preorder your new cookbook. 😆


Can you add the calorie content in your recipes?

Thank you, Meera

    Megan Gilmore

    The nutrition information is already listed on this post. You can find it right under the recipe.


Can this soup be frozen?


    Did you get an answer to this? I would like to know too! 🙂

      Megan Gilmore

      I’ve never frozen this one, but in my experience, most soups freeze very well. The veggies will probably be more tender when the soup thaws, but that’s not a problem for my family!


        Just a quick comment about freezing soups; freezing soups containing potatoes is not recommended, as the texture of the potatoes will become like grainy mush. You will be so sorry you did it! I learned this the hard and painful way, and hope to save someone else that torment. Potato lovers don’t want their taters messed up, now do they?

        I’ve often wondered about sauteeing the aromatics in the IP, glad you clarified that. This soup looks so good on this chilly fall morning and I’ve a good mind to make it today. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

Lynn Harris

At the moment I only have the small instant pot. Which size is required for your recipes? Thanks!

    Megan Gilmore

    I use the 6 quart most often, but you could always cut the ingredients in half for the 3-quart size. Cooking time should be the same.

MElissa jacoby

So easy and so delicious. My whole fmaily loved it. Thanks. I got the book and cannot wait to start cooking some of your recipes.


This recipe looks so easy and delicious, but I need to avoid tomatoes tightness now. Any suggestions?
Thank you!

Kathy Woodward

You say a cups of lentil, water etc. What size cup please?

    Jillian Marie

    I would assume a 1-cup (250 ml / 8 ounces) measuring cup for the water and 1-cup dry-measure for the lentils.


I made this tonight. Simply delicious!!! I added 1 tsp. of Vindaloo Spice Mix for extra flavouring and nutrition.

Erika Wyckoff

Oh my! What a true delight to make and eat. I made this tonight and absolutely loved it. I picked up some sweet corn bread and it added the perfect touch. I would not change a thing. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

Ann woodhurst

I was not very motivated to cook this evening, and I had very little in my fridge, but I did have these ingredients, and what a lovely meal!! It’s a keeper! Thanks for sharing!


This looks great! Can I substitute broth for the tomatoes? Thank you!


Super simple, healthy and tasty! Thanks for a great recipe.


I’ve made a lot of different lentil soup recipes in my Instant Pot, and this is among the best. I was a little skeptical about not sauteing the vegetables first, and using water instead of broth, but it turned out very flavorful. In fact, I liked this so much that I just bought your Instant Pot recipe book!

    Megan Gilmore

    Aw, thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe, and I hope you’ll love the new ones in the cookbook, too!


      I had to come back to say that the tikka masala recipe in the cookbook is outstanding. I made the vegetarian version and loved it.


I am loving all these delicious recipes for the instant pot!

Donna Christie

Thanks for sharing this simple and delicious recipe! I find that when I soak my lentils for a while (soak ’em while you’re chopping) I don’t have to wait to add the salt. Haven’t had an issue yet! Very tasty!


Please add me to your email list..your recipes sound so yummy!!


Delicious! Didn’t have celery so I threw in some chopped zucchini. Added a little more cayenne pepper at the end to spice it up. This recipe is definitely a keeper.


Don’t let the simple ingredients fool you, folks, this is the best Instant Pot lentil soup recipe out there, hands down. I’ve tried ’em all, from Shane’s and down the line, and this one is the tastiest and is exactly what I want when I crave lentil soup. I often add a diced potato or two when we want a little more stew-like soup, but it doesn’t need it to be delicious. Thank you!


This is good. Is one serving a cup? What is the measurement for a serving?

Christina Lee

Can you use red lentils?

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, but red lentils don’t really hold their shape the way green lentils do, so the soup will be mushier.

Mark Hodson

Nice recipe, thanks. I sauteed the onion and garlic (habit) and added a couple of parsnips for a bit more sweetness


I made this soup today for lunch. followed the recipe to a T. thought it didn’t have enough broth. i added a quarter cup vegy broth. This soup was delicious. thank you. It’s a keeper for sure. Next time I’m doubling it.


Didn’t have curry so I added a bay leaf and a little thyme and it was amazing! Even my husband ate it. Everything I make from this website and your instant pot cookbook come out amazing!


Megan! Your lentil recipe was my first with an instant pot.Awesome!

Quick question. To double the recipe do I set the timer to 20 minutes?


    Megan Gilmore

    You don’t need to change the cooking time if you double the recipe. It will just take longer for the pot to come to pressure, so the overall cooking time will be a little longer.


Love this soup and so do my kiddos! Easy and quick and so flavorful!


YUM! Made this basically as is, but used red lentils because it’s all I had on hand. I also added turmeric, thyme, and bay leaves. Will definitely be making this again.


My new favorite soup


How large is 1 serving? I see that this makes 6 servings but wasn’t sure what the actual serving size is. One cup?

Anne hunt

I made this and really enjoyed it. I like spice so added cayenne. The salt at the end is a key ingredient too. Very bland without it. I used my instant pot for the first time.

Jim Beerstecher

Second time I’ve made this recipe! Just a wonderful recipe! Wonderful flavors, textures, and colors. A great presentation. Food never tasted better than now that I’m Whole Food Plant Based 100%!!! Oh my… thanks for the recipe!

Jim Beerstecher

Second time I’ve made this recipe! Just a wonderful recipe! Wonderful flavors, textures, and colors. A great presentation. Food never tasted better than now that I’m Whole Food Plant Based 100%!!! Oh my… thanks for the recipe!

The only change I made was that I used my own homemade veggie soup stock. I’ve got tons on hand from juicing with my slow masticating juicer. I run the pulp through the juicer a second time. Then, I cook down the leftover broth and strain out the big stuff. Yummy. No matter what veggies I juice, it’s lways amazing stock!


Easy to make and turned out great! I didn’t have celery so substituted red pepper. Added a bit of celery salt also. I’ll definitely make it again!


Does 128 k cal mean it’s over 1200 calories since a kcal is 1000 calories?I really love this recipe by the way!

    Megan Gilmore

    No, calories and kilocalories are used interchangeably, so 128 kcal is the same as 128 calories.


Can I make this as a slow cooker recipe instead of a pressure cooker?


Wonderful recipe, thank you!


Megan! This soup is so good. I make it at least once a month, if not more, and everyone loves it! My 15 month old gobbled it up last night and kept asking for more. Thank you so much for all you do in your recipe prep!


Do you Pre-soak the lentils before you cook it ?


I’ve never been a fan of lentils but I know how nutritious they are so I gave this recipe a shot in hopes that it would be good and it was delicious! But is it supposed to be so thick? I refrigerated it and it’s very thick when I heat it up. Do I avoid the thickness by adding more liquid?

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, you can thin it out with a little extra water when you reheat it. I sometimes season it in that case with an extra pinch of salt, or a squeeze of lemon, too.


Just wondering what the serving size is? 1 cup?


Delicious. Thank you!


Tried it for lunch today, and the house still smells so good! This recipe is a keeper! Thank you for a healthy and yummy lentil soup recipe.


Tasty and easy to make though I did add an extra cup of water to thin it out. The spinach is a nice touch. Thank you.


Amazing flavor! will make again and again.

Alex gardner

I’m comparing this recipe to your “perfect red lentil soup” that’s not cooked in the instant pot. Would you recommend using coconut milk in this recipe? Curious the difference between adding or not. Thanks!


Yes, I have a go to recipe from Bob’s Red Mill for Vitality Soup. If you search nutritional yeast, go to recipes, it will come up”
This recipe is a super quick and easy vegan alternative to chicken noodle soup. Nutritional yeast gives this soup a rich and savory flavor base, while chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) take the place of chicken.
SERVINGS 4 servings
PREP TIME 5 minutes
COOK TIME 30 minutes
6 cups Water
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes
1 tsp Onion Granules
1 tsp Sea Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
1/8 tsp Turmeric (ground)
1-1/2 cups Garbanzo Beans cooked
3/4 cup Pasta (any small noodles of your choice)
Place all ingredients, except the pasta in a large pan and bring to a boil. Add the pasta in the boiling mixture and stir well. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.
I did a review for the recipe.

Thank you for your wonderful recipes.

Diane VanDorn

The best soup I have ever made! I didn’t have spinach so I let it out. I added the leafy top my celery. I doubled the cumin as it is my favorite spice. I also added extra garlic. It was a warm, spicy dish in the end. I prefer no solid lentils so I added 7 minutes to the cook time. It was enough to make the lentils disappear into the broth, while maintaining the vegetables. I left halves garlic cloves in there and I wish I had added more. They added a delightful sweetness to the soup. I can’t wait to experiment with the spinach and I think I will add some steamed cubed pumpkin or butternut squash to add another bit of sweetness, perhaps to cut through the heavy spice I added. I cannot say how truly grateful I am for this speedy recipe. I have lost 115 lbs via diet and exercise, and I am searching for healthy, delightful choices in my menu. This soup has just moved to the top of my recipe pile! Thank you!


Easy, delicious. No added oils. My husband even loves this simple dish.

Linda Weinberger

Omg this lentil soup is so delicious. Because I didn’t have all the spices, I added turmeric and garlic and herb seasoning blend. Will make again when I have curry and cumin. This is the first time I didn’t sauté the veggies first and just threw everything in. It came out delicious.


Simply delicious! So easy and fool proof; this is a comforting meal that satisfies every time!

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