Instant Pot Lentil Soup
Instant Pot Lentil Soup is humble, unconditional love in a bowl. Whatever life is throwing at you this week, this quiet, soul-soothing soup is here to nourish.
Feeling on top of the world? You’ll be even more dynamo after your first bite. Can’t remember the last time your socks matched? This Instant Pot lentil soup doesn’t care. It will cozy on up with you anyway.
The beauty of lentil soup is its understatement. While it isn’t fancy, I’d feed it to my dearest company (and I have many times!). Its satisfying, hearty texture and familiar, yet vibrant flavor will wrap you up with every bite.
This soup also earns bonus points for affordability. An entire pot of lentil soup costs about $10 to make, but it tastes like a million bucks. Plus, it’s freezer-friendly, making it ideal for meal prep.
Lentil soup will never sing its own praises, and it doesn’t need to. You’ll be singing them on its behalf!
Why I Love This Easy Lentil Soup
A lover of sun and warm weather, I struggle during this stretch of the year, when the sparkle of the holidays is behind but summer still feels forever away. However, one of the things that brings me cheer all winter long is making recipes that shine their brightest when the cold is at its worst.
While I’d happily eat Instant Pot lentil soup any night of the week and in any temperature, it tastes especially satisfying when the wind is blowing and the frost is creeping into the corners of our windows. Each bite instantly transports me to a place of warmth, comfort, and deliciousness.
Lentil soup is healthy, super filling, warming, and the best kind of recipe to have in your refrigerator. It reheats like a dream and tastes better and better as the week goes along.
How to Cook Lentil Soup in the Instant Pot
This easy lentil soup does require a little chopping on the front end, but once you have the ingredients prepped, it is completely hands off, especially if you make it in an Instant Pot. (If that sounds appealing, be sure to check out this roundup of my favorite hands-off dishes: 15 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes!)
I first discovered the beauty of Instant Pot lentils back when I made this Instant Pot Lentil Curry.
Although the total amount of time to cook lentils in an Instant Pot is pretty comparable to the time you’d need on the stove, I find that the texture of the Instant Pot lentils is superior.
I love that I never need to check or stir the lentils the entire time the soup cooks. (For another maintenance lentil recipe or if you don’t have an Instant Pot, try this Crockpot Lentil Soup.)
- Lentils. I made this pressure cooker lentil soup with French green lentils (also called “Puy lentils”) because I love their lightly peppery flavor, and they hold their shape and texture nicely too. In addition to being yummy, lentils are a great addition to soup because they are ultra nutritious. Lentil soup is healthy and packed with protein, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and iron. You do not need to soak the lentils before adding them to lentil soup.
- Vegetables. Adding classic soup veggies like onions, carrots, celery, and garlic makes this soup extra hearty, healthy, and flavorful.
- Herbs & Spices. I used a combination of fresh thyme, smoked paprika, and black pepper. The thyme gives the lentil soup an earthy Italian vibe; the smoked paprika makes it very subtly smoky and adds another dimension of flavor.
- Tomatoes. Pantry staples to the rescue! Crushed tomatoes form part of the soup liquid, and the fire-roasted tomatoes add a richer flavor.
- Vegetable Broth. To keep this as a vegetarian or vegan lentil soup, use vegetable broth. You can certainly make it with chicken broth if that’s not a concern for you.
Toppings. I highly recommend both a sprinkle of fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. Crusty baguette dunking comes highly recommended too!
- Using the Instant Pot saute setting, cook the onion until it is very soft.
- Add the carrots, celery, with the herbs and spices.
- Add the lentils and garlic, stirring to coat. Add the tomatoes and broth.
- Seal and cook on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes, then release pressure naturally.
- Stir the soup, and remove the thyme stems. Adjust taste and texture as desired. Serve hot with desired toppings, and ENJOY!
Recipe Notes and Variations
- To Make Vegan. As written, this is a vegan lentil soup, but if you don’t need the recipe to be dairy free, I highly recommend grating Parmesan cheese right over the top.
- To Add Meat. To make Instant Pot lentil soup with sausage, brown the sausage with the onion first, and then once it’s fully cooked, add the remaining ingredients in the order listed.
- French Lentil Soup with Bacon. Classic! Cut the bacon into pieces, and start the recipe by browning the bacon in the Instant Pot first using the sauté setting until crispy. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels, and then make the soup as directed. Stir in the bacon at the end.
- Instant Pot Lentil Soup with Ham. You can stir in diced, cooked ham after the soup has finished cooking.
- Lentil Variations. If you prefer to make Instant Pot red lentil soup or even brown lentil soup instead of French lentil soup, those swaps will certainly work too. For red lentil soup, I’d suggest cutting the pressure cooking time by a few minutes, as red lentils are more fragile and won’t hold their shape as well during pressure cooking.
- No Instant Pot? You can also make this soup on the stovetop. See recipe notes for more details. Or give this stovetop Curry Lentil Soup a try.
How to Store and Reheat Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- To Store. Place leftover soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm this soup in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat this soup in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Store soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What Goes Well with Lentil Soup?
- Bread. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a crusty piece of bread with lentil soup. This Crock Pot Bread would also be delicious.
- Vegetables. Add even more veggies to your meal by serving this soup with a side of Roasted Frozen Broccoli or Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic.
- Salad. Soup and salad are a tasty combination. Try this soup with a side of Brussels Sprouts Slaw or Anytime Arugula Salad.
Tools Used to Make Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- 6-Quart Instant Pot. Larger sizes work too. If making in a 3-quart Instant Pot, I suggest halving the recipe (no need to change the Instant Pot pressure cook time, no matter the size).
- Cheese Grater. The easiest way to grate cheese right on into your soup…and into anything else.
- Green Lentils. <—These are the ones I used.
Ready for your hug in a bowl?
Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion - small diced
- 4 medium carrots
- 3 stalks celery
- 4 springs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups French green lentils
- 4 cloves garlic - minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes - (15 ounces)
- 1 can crushed tomatoes - (15 ounces)
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- Chopped fresh parsley - for serving
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese - optional for serving
- Crusty bread - optional for serving
- Drizzle the oil into the Instant Pot. Set to SAUTE. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and stir. Continue to cook the onion, stirring often, until the onions are very soft and beginning to nicely brown and break down, about 8 minutes.
- While the onion cooks, peel the carrots and cut into small dice. Small dice the celery as well. Add the carrots, celery, thyme springs (you can tie them together if you like to make them easier to fish out later), salt, smoked paprika, and pepper. Sauté until the carrots and celery are barely soft, about 2 minutes.
- Add the lentils and garlic to the pot and stir to coat them in the spices. Let cook 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and vegetable broth.
- Cover and seal the Instant Pot, and then set to cook on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes of high pressure, allow the cooker to release pressure naturally. This will take about 10 to 15 additional minutes.
- Open the lid and stir the soup. Remove the thyme stems, leaving the leaves in the soup. If the soup is too thick for your liking, thin with a bit of water or additional stock until you reach your desired consistency. (We tend to like our soups pretty thick and hearty around here.) Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Serve hot with a sprinkle of parsley, Parmesan (if using), and bread for dipping.
- TO STORE: Place leftover soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm this soup in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat this soup in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Store soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- TO MAKE ON THE STOVETOP: Prepare the recipe in a large Dutch oven on the stove through Step 3. Bring the soup to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook until the lentil are tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout. Enjoy hot.
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