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!
This is absolutely delicious! I had navy beans so used those instead and soaked everything about 8 hours. Had to sub dried thyme also but still absolutely delicious and will definitely keep this in my soup rotation!
Annette Kreamer says
I want your Recipe please that look so Good.
Beverley Cryderman says
I do not own an instant pot. How much time would I take for cooking in an ordinary pot???
Lorena Grater says
Approximately 45 minutes on low simmer, covered.
I made this today and it is absolutely delicious! I didn’t have bacon, and I couldn’t find red lentils at my local stores. I doubled up on the green lentils, and used the cannellini beans. The consistency is just what I was looking for. Perfect for a healthy dinner, along with a salad. Next time I’ll try it with the red lentils. Thanks!
Sandy J says
I can’t agree enough about soaking the beans. Get rid of the phytic acid. I will soak the white beans over night and the lentils for a shorter time. I do soak my grains too. Looks fantastic. Now for some cooler weather. Thanks.
This was so good. I added black beans, and did not soak the lentils (but did soak the beans). Otherwise did recipe just as written. I had made cured pork belly and only used about about 2 ounces for cooking and topping. My husband, who feels sad when there is no meat said the fried pork belly was just the crunchy salty bit to make an already tasty meal perfect. I never would have topped it if it were just me, but I am glad I did. Thank you so much for the recipes. I have tried a few and each were really good. Maybe consider a cookbook. I’d buy it. Esp. with instantpot recipes. Your videos give me confidence to use it.
Nicole Dirksen says
I have always had so much luck with your IP recipes…loved all I have made. This soup had great flavor and was easy to make. I made the recipe according to directions, including soaking legumes for 2 hours and rinsed. The texture for the “soup” came out pasty, wasn’t a soup at all. Flavor was really good! Any suggestions?
Lorena Grater says
I am so sorry the consistency wasn’t perfect :( Legumes for sure have given me quite a headache. Turns out the age, type, country of production of different legumes take different times to cook. This makes it impossible to find the perfect cooking time for everybody. The beans that I get here in Montreal take quite some time to pressure cook and others have reported that their beans took half the time than mine. So I’m assuming your lentils cook much faster than the ones I get here. I would try reducing the cooking time to 15 minutes and see how your lentils turn out that way. Red lentils do become pasty no matter what though. So if all lentils were fine and only the red ones were mush then leave out the red lentils.
This came out really good! My beans were a little mushy, but I think it was because I soaked one day and cooked the second. Hubby liked it, and he had turned his nose up when I suggested trying it.
My only question is what is a serving size? A cup? I track for bariatric purposes.
Lorena Grater says
I always put the overall servings for a recipe so it the recipe says 4 servings it’s 1/4 of the whole pot. If it says 6 servings it’s 1/6th of the whole pot. If you have to pay attention to calories and macro-nutritional values I recommend you weight the whole finished recipe and then divide into as many servings as I suggest by weight and that away you can make sure you are as close as possible to the nutrition information provided. Be aware though that nutrition information is calculated with an automatic calculator so it’s not always 100% accurate.
Hi there! Really want to give this recipe a go, however, I don’t have an instant pot! 😬 Is it possible to do it in a slow cooker? If so, are there any changes I’d have to make? Thanks so much ☺️
Lorena Grater says
No problem at all :) https://greenhealthycooking.com/crockpot-lentil-soup/
SHIRLEY L WEINBERG says
Your lentil soup sounds wonderful and I will cook this up next time I make a pot. I am confused
recipe says must soak 12 hours and you said 2 hours is enough. Which is it?
Lorena Grater says
I’m sorry for the confusion. It’s 2 hours to overnight. Minimum 2 hours, maximum 12 hours. I should specify in the recipe card as well. Thank you for pointing it out.
Richard Le Mesurier says
Had no bacon and no greeen lentils in the house. Used Hot Cacciatore Salami instead of bacon and Puy and whole red lentils – worked very well. Totally delicious. Thanks for the recipe and various helpful tips to modify it using different herbs and spices. About to have another bowl before our boys inhale it!
I enjoyed this dish very much. It is difficult to find recipes that soak the beans first. This one was hearty and yummy! I was wondering how long to cook soaked green lentils alone in the instant pot. Do you have those times worked out?
Thanks again for sharing a good recipe!
Lorena Grater says
I’m so happy you enjoyed it :) Yes, green lentils alone take 5 minutes on high pressure + full natural pressure release.
I made this last weekend and it was a hit. Delicious. Followed the recipe but Instead of bacon, I used christmas leftover hambone and I diced some left over ham. I sautéed everything first in a pan then cook it in my slow cooker. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Torrie Lopez says
Do i need to soak my beans if I am using canned??
No. Canned beans are already cooked so soaking wouldn’t make sense. The soaking is to break them down BEFORE cooking. I don’t know if my Lentil soup recipe works with canned lentils considering they are already cooked.
Delish, but next time I will 1/2 the recipe for my mini IP all the legumes did not fit, now I need to find a use for the extra soaked beans <3
Oh no. I’m sorry to hear that. I have two 6-quarts. All my recipes are tested in 6-quarts. It’s probably best to half all my instant pot recipes, just in case. I’m sorry for not specifying. You can always make the soup again and freeze :) It’s great for freezing.