A hearty Instant Pot Lentil Soup made with simple, wholesome ingredients. Made in under 30 minutes thanks to your handy dandy pressure cooker!
An incredibly nutrient-dense soup that is perfect for busy weeknights and meal-prepping. This is one of my healthy soup recipes you’ll want in your regular recipe rotation!
This Instant Pot Lentil Soup is incredibly easy to make, yet still hearty and filling. I’m all about soups when it gets colder, and while I love them all, this lentil soup is special! It’s basically a hug disguised as soup when you’re cold to the bones. Ha! Enough of the poetry, let’s get right into it, shall we?
Which Lentils To Use For Instant Pot Lentil Soup
That all depends on what kind of lentil soup you want to make — a creamy one or a chunky, more rustic one. For a creamy lentil soup, you’re going to want to use only red lentils, like I did for my Red Lentil Sweet Potato Soup.
For a chunky, vegetable-style soup like this one, a mix of lentils is the way to go. My favorite lentils are green lentils by far. I mixed them with red for this recipe and added extra legumes in the form of cannellini beans. The red lentils and the cannellini beans make the soup creamy, and the green lentils keep their shape a bit better for that chunky texture.
Should I Soak Lentils if Cooked in the Instant Pot?
Short answer: Yes!
Long answer: It’s an everlasting debate, and everybody has a different opinion. The people in the “no-soak” camp say it’s not “necessary”. The beans cook through without soaking and taste exactly the same and you save one step in the process of preparing them. But it’s not about the cooking time or the taste, in my opinion. It’s all about digestion. Unsoaked legumes are much harder to digest, and the consequences are “windy.”
I prefer to soak all my legumes because then I can enjoy eating large amounts of lentil soup without feeling all bloated. Lentils are 100 times easier to digest when soaked for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 12 hours. Just make sure you rinse them well under running water once finished soaking.
It is also important to note that by soaking the lentils they cook better. When they are not soaked for at least 2 hours, they absorb A LOT more liquid when cooking. The result is a drier and pasty texture instead of a more chunky and soupy consistency.
Same rules apply to my super simple Lentils and Rice recipe.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Soaked legumes: A minimum of two hours of soaking is enough, but they can be soaked overnight for a maximum of 12 hours. After soaking, always drain and rinse legumes.
- Bacon: This is a crucial element for building flavor for the soup. And don’t toss the grease! You’ll use it to sauté the veggies. For a vegetarian option, you can skip the bacon altogether and just use a drizzle of olive oil.
- Veggies: For this recipe I used chopped carrots and celery, but you can use literally any veggie you like.
- Onion & garlic: Both give amazing flavor. Chop as coarsely or fine as you prefer.
- Stock or broth: I like using chicken broth for this Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe, but you can use vegetable broth if you prefer.
- Herbs & spices: Fresh thyme, fresh parsley, sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, and chili powder are the best seasonings for this lentil soup.
How To Make Lentil Soup in the Instant Pot
- Soak legumes in water for at least 2 hours to overnight before cooking.
- Cook the bacon in the Instant Pot insert on the SAUTE setting until crispy.
- Sauté onion and garlic in the bacon grease or olive oil until tender.
- Drain and rinse the soaked legumes, then add them to the pot with the bacon, onion, and garlic.
- Add remaining ingredients — chopped veggies, fresh herbs, dry seasonings, and chicken broth. Ensure that the legumes are just covered, and add more broth if needed. Secure the lid, turn the valve to the sealing position, and set for 25 minutes on high pressure.
- Let pressure release naturally, and then try the soup to see if it needs salt and pepper. This will depend on how seasoned the broth was.
- Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, serve, and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Have fun with the toppings! This recipe calls for a simple garnish of fresh parsley, but you could also serve each bowl with diced avocado, some fresh cilantro, diced raw onion, and/or thinly sliced chili.
- Add more veggies! You can truly add any combination of vegetables to this soup. It’s a great recipe to make when you need to clean out the fridge! Bell peppers, zucchini, squash, white or sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and canned tomatoes would be great additions.
- Add some meat! Looking to make this lentil soup even heartier? Some browned ground beef, turkey, or chicken would be great mix-ins. Just sauté in the Instant Pot in the grease.
- Prefer a creamy lentil soup? Stick with just red lentils and blend everything together with an immersion blender after the soup has finished cooking.
- Want to make it vegan- or vegetarian-friendly? Just skip the bacon and instead sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil.
- For this Lentil Soup I’m using a 6-quarts Instant Pot. You can adjust the amounts depending if you have a smaller or bigger Instant Pot.
- No Instant Pot? No problem! You can still make this delicious Crockpot Lentil Soup in your slow cooker.
- Some people have asked if they can use canned beans (not lentils). If you only have canned beans at home, just follow the recipe as it is without the beans. Then, once the NPR is over, add the canned beans and bring the pot to pressure again for just 1 minute to heat them up. Then do a quick release and you’re good.
Can Instant Pot Lentil Soup Be Frozen?
YES! This homemade lentil soup recipe is perfect for freezing. You can make a double batch and freeze it in individual portions. Or, if you want it for one of those busy weekdays as family dinner, I’ve got a trick for you:
- Add the soup to a large freezer bag and into the instant pot’s stainless steel pot and pop in the freezer.
- Once frozen (a couple of hours), remove the freezer bag from the pot and put the pot back in your instant pot and the freezer bag back into the freezer.
- You just froze your soup in the perfect shape to add back in the instant pot on the day you want to make it! Isn’t that brilliant?
Just run a little warm water over the bag so you can dump the round block of soup into your instant pot, set it to 5 minutes on high pressure, and it’s done!
Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- 100 g sliced bacon
- 1 chopped onion
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 cup dried green lentils
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- 1 cup dried cannellini beans
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp-Tbsp chili powder - * Use according to your spice tolerance
- 4 cups chicken broth
- sea salt
- Soak legumes in abundant water for 2 hours minimum, 12 hours maximum.
- Press "sauté" to preheat the instant pot.
- Once hot, add sliced bacon and stir-fry until it starts crisping up.
- Add chopped onion and crushed garlic to the bacon and sauté until soft.
- Drain and rinse legumes and then add to instant pot.
- Add diced vegetables, thyme and chili powder and then pour chicken broth over everything. Make sure all legumes are just covered in the broth. Beans that remain uncovered, won't cook through.
- Put on the lid, turn the valve to sealing position and set for 25 minutes on high pressure.
- Let pressure release naturally and then try the soup to see if it needs salt and pepper. This will depend on how seasoned the broth was.
- Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and enjoy!