Instant Pot Lentil Soup
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Lentil Soup is a warm and cozy meal that is both hearty and healthy. Making homemade lentil soup in your Instant Pot is easy!
I’m back today with another easy vegetarian Instant Pot recipe, Instant Pot lentil soup! This winter has been a season of full-flavored, comforting soups, as evidenced by my Instant Pot Minestrone, Instant Pot Vegetable Soup and these Instant Pot soup recipes.
Instant Pot lentil soup is a warmly spiced soup that’s filled with tender lentils, vegetables and tomatoes. It’s a nourishing, satisfying meal that is pure comfort food at the end of a long day.
This lentil soup recipe is simple to make, using fresh veggies and pantry ingredients. It’s one of our favorite pressure cooker recipes because it’s quick to prepare, healthy and perfect for lunch or dinner.
Instant Pot Lentils
Lentils are high in protein, fiber and other nutrients. Unlike dry beans, you do not need to soak lentils before cooking. It is a good idea to give lentils a good rinse and pick over them to check for unwanted debris before adding them to your recipes.
This lentil soup recipe with veggies is a delicious way to enjoy Instant Pot lentils!
Lentil Soup Ingredients
- Olive Oil: Olive oil adds richness to the soup. Extra virgin olive oil is recommended. You’ll sauté the vegetables in olive oil.
- Onion, Carrots & Celery: Together, these three ingredients are called a mirepoix, a classic seasoning base for soups.
- Garlic: Minced garlic adds delicious flavor to the soup. I highly recommend using fresh garlic and mincing it yourself, either by hand with a knife or with a garlic press.
- Spices & Seasonings: This soup is seasoned with dried thyme, ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. This blend of spices brings a slightly smoky, warm and earthy flavor to the soup that is just irresistible.
- Vegetable Broth: I recommend using low sodium vegetable broth so that you can better control the amount of salt in the soup. Use a good quality vegetable broth for the best flavor.
- Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes: I highly recommend using fire roasted tomatoes because they add so much flavor to this lentil soup. If you can’t find fire roasted crushed tomatoes, you can use fire roasted diced tomatoes instead.
- Lentils: Use either dried green lentils or dried brown lentils in this recipe.
- Fresh Spinach: Chopped fresh spinach adds a beautiful pop of color to the soup! You’ll stir the spinach into the soup after pressure cooking.
How to Make Lentil Soup in the Instant Pot
Here’s an overview of the steps to making this recipe. You’ll find the full ingredients and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Heat the olive oil in the Instant Pot using the sauté function. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until softened, stirring often.
- Add the garlic, dried thyme, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Turn off the Instant Pot.
- Deglaze the pot by pouring in the broth and scraping up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes and rinsed lentils.
- Close the Instant Pot lid, turn the valve to the sealing position, and pressure cook for 8 minutes at high pressure.
- When the cook time ends, do a 10 minute natural release by leaving the Instant Pot alone.
- Quick release the remaining pressure by carefully turning the steam release valve to the venting position. Then open the Instant Pot.
- Stir in the chopped spinach.
- Serve soup with grated Parmesan and/or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.
Is Lentil Soup Vegan
This is a vegan lentil soup recipe. For a vegan meal, do not serve Parmesan cheese with the soup. This soup is also gluten-free.
Instant Pot Lentil Soup Recipe Variations
- Red Lentil Soup: I recommend making this soup recipe with green or brown lentils, as they hold their shape best when cooking. If you only have red lentils, you can use them, but know that they will fall apart when cooking, so the texture of your soup will be different.
- French Lentil Soup: For a more classic French lentil soup flavor, you can omit the cumin and smoked paprika and make the soup with French green lentils. For extra flavor, start the soup by sautéing chopped bacon before you add the onion, carrot and celery to the pot.
- Sausage: To add chicken or pork sausage, remove it from the casings and brown the sausage on sauté before adding the onion, carrot and celery to the pot.
- Ground Beef or Ground Turkey: You can also add more protein to this lentil soup with ground beef or ground turkey. Brown the meat using the sauté setting before adding the onion, carrot and celery.
- Ham: You can add diced ham when you add the lentils and tomatoes.
- Beans: If you wish to add beans, I recommend using canned white beans and stirring them in after the soup pressure cooks.
- Potatoes: To add potatoes, cut Yukon gold potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces and add them when you add the dried lentils to the soup. Yukon gold potatoes hold their shape better than Russet potatoes in the pressure cooker.
- Other Greens: You can substitute the fresh spinach with other greens, such as kale or chard. Stir chopped fresh greens into the soup after it cooks.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can make this recipe on the stovetop. Use a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot. Sauté the ingredients as directed in the recipe, then add the remaining ingredients and simmer the soup, covered, until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. This will take about 20-25 minutes. You may need to add some extra broth because there is more evaporation with stovetop cooking.
What to Serve with Instant Pot Lentil Soup
Soup and bread are a perfect pair. I recommend French bread, yeast rolls, dinner rolls, or even cornbread for serving with lentil soup. Adding a salad is a great way to round out the meal. My simple green salad, kale avocado salad, massaged kale salad and spinach salad are all delicious options.
Storage & Reheating
This soup reheats wonderfully. Store lentil soup in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months, in an airtight container.
Frozen soup can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator, in the microwave on low power, or in a pot on the stove over medium-low heat (you may need to add a little extra broth or water). Heat leftover soup to steaming hot in the microwave or in a pot on the stove over medium heat.
Get more easy Instant Pot Recipes!
Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
- 2 medium carrots (chopped into ¼-inch thick rounds or half-rounds)
- 2 ribs celery (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 15 ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups dry green or brown lentils (picked over and rinsed)
- 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
- grated Parmesan cheese (optional, for serving)
- Heat the olive oil in the Instant Pot using the Saute function. Add the onion, carrots and celery and saute until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, dried thyme, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds and then press Cancel to turn off the Saute function.
- Pour in the broth and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the crushed tomatoes and lentils and stir.
- Close the Instant Pot lid and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position. Set the cook time to 8 minutes at high pressure using the Pressure Cook or Manual function. The Instant Pot will take about 25 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will begin counting down.
- When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes by leaving the Instant Pot alone. Then carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position (I use the handle of a long spoon to do this).
- Wait for all of the steam to escape and the pin to drop down and then carefully open the Instant Pot lid. Stir the chopped spinach into the soup. Serve with grated Parmesan, if desired.
- For a brighter flavor, stir in a squeeze of lemon juice to each bowl of soup when serving.
- Store leftover lentil soup in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months, in an airtight container.
- If you don't have an Instant Pot, you can make this recipe on the stovetop. Use a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot. Sauté the ingredients as directed in the recipe, then add the remaining ingredients and simmer the soup, covered, until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. This will take about 20-25 minutes. You may need to add some extra broth because there is more evaporation with stovetop cooking.
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