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Instant Pot Lentil Soup (Vegan)

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.

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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

5 from 1 vote
Instant Pot lentil soup in a white bowl
Instant Pot Lentil Soup (Vegan)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Natural Release:
10 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

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
Servings: 6
Calories: 128 kcal
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Per Serving: Calories: 128, Fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 22g, Fiber: 10g, Protein: 8g
Weight Watchers Freestyle Points: 1    (Note: I’m not affiliated with Weight Watchers in any way, but many of you have asked me to include point estimations for my recipes.)

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?

This healthy Lentil Soup cooks in 10 minutes in the Instant Pot, for a fast weeknight dinner. Because an electric pressure cooker preserves nutrients and flavor, you can skip the added oil and make this a

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Comments

Na

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. 😆

Meera

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.

Kia

Can this soup be frozen?

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.

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