Instant Pot Lentil Soup is a delicious way to get more veggies into your life, and the electric pressure cooker makes the process as easy as possible. Literally!
Why You’ll Love It
It’s unbelievably flavorful. While writing The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook, I discovered that the Instant Pot brings out more flavor in food than traditional cooking methods. As a result, this soup tastes as if it has simmered on the stove for hours… without actually requiring that kind of time.
It’s ridiculously easy to prepare. Just add all of the raw vegetables and spices to a pot, then secure the lid and press a button to cook. You don’t have to sauté anything to get started, which also means you can skip the extra olive oil you’d normally need for cooking.
It’s easy to customize. If you have different veggies to use up, such as kale or sweet potato, or would like to try a different spice combination, this recipe is quite flexible.
It’s filling. Green lentils offer plenty of filling fiber and plant-based protein. While this soup is low in calories, it will still help keep you feeling full. It’s the perfect option to meal prep for the week ahead, since it’s easy to reheat for a fast lunch or dinner.
It’s perfect for special diets. This soup is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Ingredients You’ll Need
You can use dry green or brown lentils in this recipe, since they have a similar cook time. If you prefer to use red lentils, just keep in mind that they become quite mushy when cooked, so the resulting soup will have a different texture. (Still delicious, though!)
Water is used as the base of this recipe, to keep it easy and affordable, but you can use vegetable broth or chicken broth as the base, if you prefer. Just keep in mind that you may need to cut-back on the salt, in that case, since the broth will contain sodium already.
How to Make Instant Pot Lentil Soup
1. Add the ingredients.
It may surprise you to hear this, but you don’t need to add any oil to this soup, or hit the Saute button to get started. Just add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, ground cumin, curry powder, cayenne pepper (if you want a little spice), diced tomatoes, lentils, and water into the pot.
Secure the lid on the Instant Pot, and move the steam release valve to the sealing position. Use the Manual or Pressure Cook button to cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. The screen will read ON until the pot is pressurized, which may take 15 minutes or so.
When the timer goes off, the screen will read L0:00. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 more minutes, to let the soup finish cooking. (This is also for safety, so hot liquid won’t shoot out of the vent.)
When 10 minutes has passed, and the screen reads L0:10, you can move the steam release valve to the venting position, to release any remaining pressure. You’ll know it’s safe to open the lid when the floating valve drops. (This is sometimes silver or red, depending on your machine.)
Remove the lid and add in the fresh baby spinach. It will wilt quickly as you stir it in.
Taste the soup and adjust any seasoning to taste, adding a little more salt, if you need to, or a squeeze of lemon juice if you’d like to brighten the flavor.
The Instant Pot will keep it warm for you, until you’re ready to serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, or any other toppings you love.
Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze soup for up to 3 months, when stored in an airtight container in the freezer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Green or brown lentils will cook similarly, but red lentils have a much different texture when cooked (they are mushy), so just keep that in mind. Luckily, soup recipes are quite forgiving!
With stove-top cooking, I always briefly saute the spices in the pan before adding liquid, but it is not necessary when pressure cooking. In fact, you might be surprised by how much stronger the spices become after cooking, so be careful when adding something like cayenne pepper– just a tiny pinch will do!
Water is more convenient and budget-friendly, and this soup develops amazing flavor without using a store-bought broth. However, you can use chicken broth or vegetable broth, if you prefer. Just keep in mind that they will add sodium to this soup, so you may want to cut-back on the salt in the recipe.
Yes, in that case 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, salt, and black pepper, and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover to simmer until the lentils are tender, about 25 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 adjust any seasoning, to taste.
Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- 1 yellow onion , chopped
- 2 carrots , peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks , chopped
- 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ¼ teaspoons curry powder
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional; for spice)
- 1 cup dry green lentils
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt , plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach , roughly chopped
- fresh parsley & lemon slices (optional; for serving)
- In the stainless steel bowl of the Instant Pot, combine the onion, carrots, celery, diced tomatoes along with their juices, garlic, cumin, curry powder, cayenne (if using), lentils, salt, pepper, and water.
- 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 roughly 15 minutes for the pot to come to pressure, so the screen will read ON until then.
- 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 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 or freshly chopped parsley on top, to help brighten the flavor even more.
- Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
If you try this Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.