by Olena

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

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Olena Osipov
5 from 128 votes

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This is the BEST Instant Pot Lentil Soup full of tender lentils and veggies that hold well under pressure producing so much flavour! With only 5 mins of prep, no sautéing, or pre-soaking, this is the easiest healthy soup perfect for busy weeknights!

The Ukrainian in me loves making complete meal soups for dinner, like Instant Pot chicken noodle soup and Instant Pot beef barley soup. They last for days, are cheap and kids love them!

Instant Pot lentil soup with spinach served in a bowl

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

If you love lentil soup you’re going to LOVE this Instant Pot version! No sauteing, no soaking, and basically hands-off. Loaded with your choice of brown or green lentils, canned tomatoes, spinach, and served with lots of freshly grated parmesan. The flavors in this soup are unreal!

This pressure cooker lentil soup is a cross between my stovetop lentil spinach soup and slow cooker lentil soup. You couldn’t ask for an easier or healthier soup recipe that makes enough to feed your family soup for a week!

Why Make Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup?

  • Delicious: No matter what benefits my recipes have, one thing they have in common is they always taste good!
  • Healthy: Naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and made with simple, wholesome fresh ingredients.
  • Leftovers: Especially if you’re making a monster batch in the 8 quart pot. I mean, lentil and spinach soup for breakfast anyone?
  • Budget-friendly: No fussy ingredients. Most of it you’ll probably already have in your kitchen and if not, none of it will break the bank.
  • Easy: There is no sautéing beforehand and no presoaking the beans. With just 5 minutes of prep the pressure cooker does the work. It really doesn’t get easier than this. 

Looking for more bean soup ideas? Check out Instant Pot black bean soup, Instant Pot split pea soup, and Instant Pot minestrone.

Ingredients for Lentil and Spinach Soup

  • Lentils: Use green or brown lentils, whichever you have. Both will remain intact under pressure and not become mushy. Make sure to rinse and drain them, however no presoaking needed.
  • Vegetables: Carrots, celery, spinach or kale, low sodium diced or crushed tomatoes. You can play around with the amount and type of vegetable you use, depending on your preferences.
  • Aromatics: Onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves all work together to give this soup amazing flavour.
  • Broth: You can use bouillon cubes and 10 cups of water or 10 cups of low sodium vegetable broth or stock.
  • Seasonings: Cumin, oregano, salt, pepper are all this recipe calls for in terms of herbs and spices. Simple seasoning that goes a long way.
lentil soup ingredients for instant pot cooking

Are Lentils Good for You?

Lentils are edible seeds from a legume family. So many reasons to incorporate lentils in your diet!

  • Lentils are a nutrition powerhouse. They are a plant-based source of complex carbs, fiber and whopping 25% of protein.
  • According to Healthline, 1 cup of cooked lentils provides 40 grams of carbs, 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein.
  • Fiber in lentils helps with regular bowel movements and good bacteria growth in your gut.
  • Served with brown rice it is a complete protein which is great for vegetarians, not only for protein but for iron as well.

Fun Fact: Canada (where I live) is the largest producer of lentils these days!

How to Cook Instant Pot Lentils Soup

If you are new to pressure cooking, check out my Instant Pot guide. It explains what happens, why, and how to avoid failures. If you don’t have one yet, I share which Instant Pot to buy.

  • Add veggies: To the Instant Pot or any other electric pressure cooker, add carrots, celery and onion.
  • Add everything else: Then add green lentils, diced tomatoes, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, salt, pepper and bouillon cubes + water or veggie stock.
  • Pressure cook on high pressure for 18 minutes: Close the lid, set pressure valve to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High or Manual button.

Does yours say pressure cook or manual? Not all Instant Pots are made exactly the same. Depending on the model of your pot, your button might say “manual” or it might say “pressure cook.” Not to worry, they mean the exact same thing!

  • Release the pressure: You can release the pressure by doing a natural release which takes just under an hour (this means leaving it alone and doing nothing with it until the pin drops). Or, you can do a quick release by turning the valve to venting and releasing the pressure in about 3-4 minutes.

Tip: Using the quick release method is much faster (obviously) but there will be a lot of splatters and possibly smell. Sometimes, what I like to do is take it outside and release it there.

  • Greens: Now is the time to add spinach or kale.
  • Fresh garlic: Nothing brightens up a soup like fresh garlic, says Ukrainian me. There is a huge difference between cooked and fresh garlic flavour. HUGE! You have to trust me on this one because I’m the Ukrainian of all Ukrainians.
  • Parmesan cheese: Stir and serve soup hot garnished with Parmesan cheese. If you are strict vegan, you’ll probably skip Parmesan, unless you find vegetarian parmesan.

Grab a spoon, slip on some cozy sweats and enjoy all those warm layers of healthy, delicious flavours!

Money-saving: If you see an organic box of spinach on sale – buy it and freeze it for later. Then use it to make things like spinach stuffed chicken breasts, green smoothies, or spinach dip

How to Make a Freezer Meal

  • Instant Pot: Add all ingredients in the order listed in the recipe minus the water, spinach, and garlic. Freeze uncooked in a gallon size Ziploc bag for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen with 10 cups of water/broth if using a 6 quart Instant Pot or 14 cups if using an 8 quart. The instructions for cooking from frozen are to cook for 20 minutes with a Quick Release at the end.
  • Slow cooker: Add all ingredients in the order listed in the recipe minus water, spinach and garlic and freeze uncooked in a gallon size Ziploc bag for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen with 10 cups of water/broth on Low for 10 hours or on High for 5 hours.
  • After cooking: Add the spinach and garlic. Stir and serve hot garnished with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, if desired.

Check out my full list of 20 healthy freezer meals. I’m obsessed with meal prep and batch cooking. Especially during hockey season!

instant pot lentil soup freezer meal

Optional Add In’s and Variations

  • Red lentils: Reduce cooking time down to 12 minutes. Red lentil soup comes out mushier and thicker like split pea soup because red lentils do not hold their texture as well as green or brown lentils. I love it too!
  • Diced ham or sausage: Just add it along with other ingredients. No changes to the pressure cooker lentil soup recipe.
  • Fresh or frozen chicken: Throw a few pieces in to make Instant Pot version of chicken lentil soup. No changes to the recipe.
  • Spice it up: There is a lot of flavour these little lentils but they’re also humble enough to take on so much outside flavour. If you like a little heat with yours, toss in some red pepper flakes or just serve with a drizzle of hot sauce at the end.
  • Fire roasted diced tomatoes: If you can find them, fire roasted tomatoes would add a great ‘smoky’ taste to this lentil and spinach soup.
  • Chicken broth: If you’re not concerned about keeping this a vegetarian soup and you’d rather use chicken broth, do that instead. It will add a delicious yet slightly different flavour.

I told you this Instant Pot lentil and spinach soup recipe is amazing!

Tips for Best Results

  • 3 quart Instant Pot: Cut 6 quart ingredients measurement in half. Keep the same cooking time. Your pot always should be no more than 2/3 full when making soup in a pressure cooker (read more).
  • Pot not more than 2/3 full: If your inner pot doesn’t have 2/3 full marking, it is very important to fill the pot only 2/3 full when pressure cooking. Ignore the cups, L and near the edge Max markers.
  • Stovetop: If you’re looking for a stovetop recipe for lentil soup, here is a delicious lentil spinach soup for you! 
  • Steam diverter: I love my ‘Henry’ steam diverter! It not only helps keep your kitchen counters clean during steam release it can prevent steam from damaging kitchen cabinets.

henry steam diverter on top of instant pot

FAQs

Why no sautéing for this Instant Pot soup recipe?

Because I truly believe that food cooked under pressure is more flavourful than the same ingredients cooked on the stove top. If I have to do the same amount of work, what is the point of a $100 appliance? So, don’t bother to saute veggies for this green lentil soup or even beef for Instant Pot stew. Your soup will come out super delicious my way!

Should I natural or quick release for Instant Pot soup?

When the lentil soup is ready, it needs time to release the pressure before you can open it. Once it is safe to do so, the dropped down float valve (the little pin) will drop. You can let it do it on its own which will take less than an hour by doing a Natural Release or you can do a Quick Release by turning the pressure valve to the Venting position, which takes 3-4 minutes. I recommend doing so outside to avoid the mess and smell.

What other flavor boosters can I add to lentil and spinach soup?

Chopped fresh parsley or a squeeze of lemon would be delicious. Add with garlic at the very end.

Is pressure cooker lentil soup vegan friendly?

If you skip the parmesan on top this soup is meat free and vegan friendly! You could alternately top with a vegan parmesan or sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

How do I make this soup thicker?

If you would like to make this soup even thicker than it is, you could make a cornstarch slurry (just cornstarch and cold water) or add some cooked brown rice or quinoa to give it more bulk. Alternately, you could use an immersion blender and blend some of the soup.

instant pot lentil soup

Serving Recommendations

This soup is loaded with good stuff, including protein! Even without any extra meat! Really, it’s a complete meal on its own, but there are days when I like to use it as a starter or have a little something extra on the side.

  • Serving it with a side of crusty bread for sopping up that liquid is a given. A good French or Italian loaf is where it’s at!
  • As a starter to something light and easy like air fryer chicken wings, grilled lemon rosemary chicken, or chicken lettuce wraps.
  • On its own: Grab a handful of parmesan cheese, maybe some fresh parsley, or a drizzle of hot sauce and maybe a glass of wine and you’re all set!

Making Instant Pot Lentil Soup in Advance

Storing: Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and enjoy a bowl or 2 every day of the week!

Freezing: Lentils freeze beautifully and there are no tender vegetables in this lentil soup either, which means nothing will turn to mush. Well, except the spinach, but we already froze, thawed and cooked it, so its vibrant color is gone anyway. Freeze cooled down soup leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Defrosting: Thaw on a counter overnight before reheating. For quick thawing, place frozen soup into a pot and simmer on low covered, stirring occasionally. It takes a bit of extra time but “crap, forgot to take it out of the freezer” happens to the best of us!

More Instant Pot Soup Recipes

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Instant Pot Lentil Soup {No Sauteing}

This is the BEST Instant Pot Lentil Soup full of tender lentils and veggies that hold well under pressure producing so much flavour! With only 5 mins of prep, no sautéing, or pre-soaking, this is the easiest healthy soup perfect for busy weeknights!
4.97 from 128 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 7 (6 Qt.), 11 (8 Qt.) servings
Calories: 244kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

6 Quart Instant Pot

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 large carrots chopped
  • 2 small celery chopped
  • 2 cups green or brown lentils rinsed & drained (uncooked)
  • 28 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes low sodium
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt*
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 bouillon cubes + 10 cups water or 10 cups veggie stock low sodium**
  • 11 oz box of spinach or kale
  • 1 large garlic clove grated
  • Parmesan cheese for serving

8 Quart Instant Pot

  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 large carrots chopped
  • 2 small celery chopped
  • 3 cups green lentils rinsed & drained
  • 28 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes low sodium
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt*
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 bouillon cubes + 14 cups water or 14 cups veggie stock low sodium**
  • 11 oz box of spinach
  • 1 large garlic clove grated
  • Parmesan cheese for serving

Instructions

  • In Instant Pot, add onion, carrot and celery.
    Instant Pot Lentil Soup
  • Add lentils, tomatoes, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, bay leaves and bouillon cubes. Add bouillon cubes and water enough to fill up to 2/3 full line or approximately 10 cups.***
    Instant Pot Lentil Soup
  • Close the lid, set pressure vent to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High pressure for 18 minutes. Display will say ON, Instant Pot will take about 30 minutes to come to pressure, you will see a bit of steam coming out from a valve, then float valve will rise and countdown from 18 minutes will begin.
    Instant Pot Lentil Soup
  • Lentil soup is ready but your Instant Pot needs to bring pressure down before you can open it, which will be indicated by a dropped down float valve. You can let it do it on its own which will take less than an hour – Natural Release. OR you can do Quick Release by turning pressure valve to Venting position, which takes 3-4 minutes. I recommend doing so outside to avoid the mess and smell.
    Instant Pot Lentil Soup
  • Open the lid, add spinach and stir.
    Instant Pot Lentil Soup
  • Grate fresh garlic over soup and stir.
    Instant Pot Lentil Soup
  • Serve hot garnished with Parmesan cheese.
    Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Make Ahead: Refrigerate chopped veggies with spices in an airtight container for up to 3 days and mix with the rest when ready to cook.

    Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container or inner Instant Pot pot with a fitting glass lid for up to 5 days.

      Freezing: Freeze cooled down soup in an air tight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

        Video

        Notes

        • *Not low sodium cans: Add less salt if using not low sodium tomatoes and stock.
        • **Liquids: I highly recommend to buy organic bouillon cubes available at many grocery stores – cheaper and more convenient than carton broth. You can also do half stock/half water to cut back on cost.
        • ***Pot not more than 2/3 full: If your inner pot doesn’t have 2/3 full marking, it is very important to fill the pot only 2/3 full when pressure cooking. Ignore the cups, L and near the edge Max ticks. Your pot always should be not more than 2/3 full when making soup (read more).
        • Red lentils: Reduce cooking time down to 12 minutes. Red lentils also do not hold their texture as well as green or brown lentils. Be prepared to be OK with more mushy soup. I love it too!
        • Diced ham or sausage: Just add it along with other ingredients. No changes to the recipe.
        • Fresh or frozen chicken: Throw a few pieces. No changes to the recipe.
        • 3 quart Instant Pot: Cut 6 quart ingredients measurement in half. Same cooking time.
        How to Make a Freezer Meal
        • Instant Pot: Add all ingredients in the order listed in the recipe minus water, spinach and garlic and freeze uncooked in a gallon size Ziploc bag for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen with 10 (6 quart Instant Pot) or 14 cups (8 quart Instant Pot) of water/broth for 20 minutes, after do Quick Release.
        • Slow cooker: Add all ingredients in the order listed in the recipe minus water, spinach and garlic and freeze uncooked in a gallon size Ziploc bag for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen with water/broth on Low for 10 hours or on High for 5 hours.
        • After cooking: Add spinach and garlic. Stir and serve hot garnished with Parmesan cheese.
        See recipe pot for more tips and FAQs.

        Nutrition

        Serving: 2cups | Calories: 244kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 415mg | Potassium: 891mg | Fiber: 20g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 7169IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 6mg
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