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!
Followed the recipe exactly today as I had all these ingredients.
I actually loved the texture, came out perfect soup consistency without having to blend it up, however didn’t expect it to be so spicy!! (and I can normally handle my spice) Maybe should come with a chilli rating so people know it’s quite hot even for half tbsp chilli, the family found it too spicy unfortunately
Oh gosh, sorry about that. I just added a note in the recipe card. We eat pretty spicy so I didn’t think it was spicy at all but you’re right. Everybody has different spice tolerance. Please try with just 1/2 tsp instead of Tbsp of chili powder next time. Or leave it out completely. It will still be delicious without the chili powder.
This sounds yummy!I am going to make this soup on my day off from work❤️
Can I do this recipe in a regular pot? I don’t have an instant pot. Thanks
I haven’t tried but in theory yes! I would add another cup of broth to account for evaporation and use the pot with the tightest sitting lid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until the beans are cooked through (about an hour I assume).
Athena Engel says
Hi, this sounds and looks amazing! I have searched all the stores in town and can only find green lentils. I’m hoping to make this for dinner tonight. Would it be terrible if I used 2 cups of green lentils? Thank you so much for your awesome recipes.
Oh, it’ll be delicious with just green lentils, too. However, remember this recipe is for soaked lentils only. If you put them in unsoaked the consistency will be completely different.
Can I double this recipe and use the same time in the instant pot for a larger amount?
I went ahead and tried it, followed the directions and soaked the lentils. This came out so yummy!!!!! Thank you for the recipe!
Yay!!! I’m so happy you liked the recipe. This soup is one of my favorites of all times.
Yes!! You just have to watch the “max” line. Don’t go over that line but other than that you can absolutely make more. This soup freezes amazingly. Done that several times already.
Penny T. says
I followed the directions exactly except did not add any bacon (also did not add any oil for onions and garlic). This came out the perfect consistency and my husband really liked it. The only thing he wants me to add is a touch more spice to give it a little punch. We will be making this again and again. Thanks.
Penny, I’m so happy you and your husband liked the recipe. If I may suggest a VERY special type of “punch”: if by any chance you have access to a Latin American Store, go buy “Ají Amarillo Paste”. It’s a Peruvian yellow chili that goes like NO OTHER in this recipe. I add it often, just don’t write it in the recipe card because it’s not something one can easily get at any grocery store. If you live in the US you can also order it online on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Mfa9q8 (this is an affiliate link and I earn a small commission at no cost to you if you buy through the link). You will fall in love with it I promise! Anybody who tries it, starts putting it into basically everything :)
I ordered the Ají Amarillo Paste. How much should I add and at what step? Very excited to try it out as my husband and I love spicy foods. Thanks
Aaahhh, I’m so excited for you! Believe me it’ll be your new favorite thing in the world! Add the ají with the chopped onion and stir fry. The amount will depend on how spicy you usually eat of course. If I were to share the whole pot with my kids I would add about 2 tsp if sharing with only my husband I’d add 2 Tbsp. The good thing is, you can always add more directly in your bowl at the end and mix it in. It’s yummier when stir-fried but perfectly edible and delicious just like that, too. Maybe try 1 Tbsp and then add a 1/2 tsp at a time to your bowl until it reaches your spice level.
Thanks so much! I’m excited too!!!
I made this soup for dinner today – DELICIOUS. I soaked my lentils and beans for almost 2 days — just to be sure :). The soup tasted great. The consistency was a little more mushy than Lorena’s picture, but not by much. Very tasty. I put salt and another spice on the table for people to add to their taste. My daughter gave herself 3 helpings !!! Love it. Thank you, Lorena
The texture of the soup was a deal breaker. It was super mussy. We could not eat it.
Mandi, I’m so sorry to hear you didn’t like it. Was the texture as shown in the video? If not, could I help you troubleshoot and find out what could have gone wrong? If it was like in the video, then obviously it’s a matter of preference of textures.
I had the same problem others did. It tasted good but the texture spoiled it, being pasty. The soup was mush and I hadn’t even soaked the lentils. I am guessing that 25 minutes cooking under pressure is too long. I think I will try 15 minutes next time.
It was pasty because you didn’t soak the lentils and the lentils had to absorb a lot more water than if you had soaked them. I’m always so sad when people rate my recipes without having followed the instructions :(
Hi, I just made this for the first time, and the lentils absorbed ALL the liquid. I’m not left with a soup at all. Any thoughts?
To clarify, I ended up with something that had the consistency of refried beans.
In the video you can see the consistency of my soup and how it’s intended to be. Was it like that?
No it was not like that at all. It was MUCH thicker and pastier. That said, in hindsight, it was the soaking I think. Will try again.
I’m glad you’ll give the recipe another try. If you didn’t soak your lentils then they will absorb A LOT more liquid and it’ll become pasty instead of soupy.
Hey Ross, did you soak your lentils for 12 hours minimum? If not then that was the problem.
I bet that was it. I’ll have to try again. Thanks again.
This is wonderful and I’m going to make it tonight even though you have not given us an option to use a different pot . I’m glad you have an instant pot and I celebrate that you celebrate but I don’t have one in one woman I know does. Some of us have crockpots. I am a foodie and most of my friends are but we don’t have Instant pots. I think you should suggest an alternate way to make these wonderful dishes in our regular parts or our crockpots. Thank you
Hi Adele, I’m sorry. It’s just that I keep getting requests for more and more Instant Pot recipes because many of my readers have one and don’t know what to cook in them or how to cook their favorite meals in them. I take on the challenge and create and find out and research and test for them. I haven’t tried this lentil soup in a regular pot, however, I’ve cooked both lentils and cannellini beans in a regular pot in 1 hour. I suggest you follow the instructions as stated for the Instant Pot version and add 2 more cups of broth to account for evaporation and then bring to a boil and once boiling reduce heat to low and simmer for 60 minutes. For the slow-cooker I suggest 4 hours on high or 8 on low.
Looks delicious. What can I substitute for bacon, please?
Simply use a little oil to fry the onions in.
Looks awesome, can’t wait to try it, getting cold here at night in the 40’s and this sounds so comforting
Same here Wendy. It’s getting sooo cold :(
Looks really good! I only have the canned beans at home – is it okay to follow the recipe as is or should I add them at the end?
The cannellini beans you mean? Yes, cook the lentils and all and then once the NPR is over, add then 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.
Susan Glass says
I do not eat bacon but would love to make the lentil soup recipe. Would it still be tasty? Do I have to add a substitute?
Yes!! It will still be absolutely delicious. Just use a little oil to fry the onions in and that’s it.