A hearty, satisfying lentil soup is the perfect cold weather meal. The Instant Pot makes it possible to prepare this nutritious, vegetarian soup in under 45 minutes and keep it warm for hours – perfect for hectic weeknights!
The Instant Pot is a lifesaver for busy families in more ways than one. Not only does this trendy appliance cook food in less time than similar recipes take on the stove, but the “Keep Warm” feature also holds food at a safe temperature for hours, which allows you to prepare dinner when it is convenient to do so – and not necessarily right before dinnertime.
When I am facing a busy afternoon of driving kids to after school activities, or I know my kids will be coming home at different times, I typically prepare dinner in the Instant Pot, knowing that the machine will keep the food warm until everyone has a chance to eat. A soup or stew is the perfect meal for those nights when everyone is eating at different times because people can just help themselves to a bowl when they come in.
Kinds of Lentil Soup
Lentil soup is one of my favorite soups to make because it is so hearty and comforting. This is a soup that really eats like a meal and the protein from the lentils keeps my family fueled and satisfied for hours.
You can, of course, make lentil soup on the stove, but the Instant Pot version is quick and very hands-off. And you can use the Sauté function on the Instant Pot to cook the aromatics right in the same pot as you cook the lentils, minimizing dirty dishes.
There are many different versions of lentil soup, which makes sense because there are so many different varieties of lentils and many global cuisines incorporate these nutritious, healthy pulses. Soup made with small red lentils typically has a thick, creamy texture because red lentils break down when cooked. A soup made with brown or green lentils, on the other hand, will have a chunkier texture as these lentils tend to hold their shape even after cooking.
This version of Instant Pot lentil soup is inspired by French flavors and uses common brown or green lentils, which you should be able to find in any grocery store. I have kept this recipe completely vegetarian because many of us are trying to eat a more plant-based diet these days for health or environmental reasons. But I promise, you will not miss the meat at all! This soup has tons of flavor and the lentils and potatoes make it both hearty and satisfying.
How To Make Instant Pot Lentil Soup
To make lentil soup in the Instant Pot, begin by sautéing aromatics like onion, carrots, and garlic. Because this is a French-inspired lentil soup, I have also included a leek and some celery as well. A dollop of tomato paste contributes deep, savory flavor without really tasting like tomato.
Once your aromatics are nice and soft, add cubes of potato and the lentils and cover with vegetable broth or water. (Of course, if you are not concerned with keeping this soup vegetarian, you can also use chicken broth.) Then, you cook the soup on high pressure for only 12 minutes. That’s all it takes for the potatoes and lentils to become tender and cooked through. I prefer to allow the pressure to release naturally for a few minutes at least because I find it helps the lentils retain their shape better, but it is not strictly necessary.
Once the soup is cooked, I stir in some Swiss chard for extra nutrition. You could substitute kale or spinach for the chard if that is more to your liking. The heat from the soup will wilt the greens in just a minute or two.
Serving This French Inspired Lentil Soup
Lastly, just before serving, I add a splash of red wine vinegar, for brightness, and some chopped fresh herbs. Because this soup was inspired by French flavors, I opted to garnish it with some fresh rosemary, but parsley, thyme, or basil would also work well. If you don’t have red wine vinegar, you could substitute a little lemon juice instead. But don’t skip that hit of acid; it really lifts and elevates the whole dish.
This soup is definitely a meal on its own, but if you have some extra time, a nice green salad and a loaf of crusty French bread would make the perfect accompaniments.
So the next time you are staring down a hectic weekday evening and think you don’t have time to make a nourishing, healthy dinner, give this Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe a try. You can prepare it in advance, using mostly pantry ingredients, and let the Instant Pot keep the soup nice and warm until your family is ready to sit down to dinner.Print
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed and cut into ribbons
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Add the olive oil to the Instant Pot and select the Sauté function on normal. When the oil is shimmering, after about 2 minutes, add the onion and leek and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the carrots and celery to the Instant Pot and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and sauté an additional minute until fragrant.
- Add the potatoes, lentils, broth or water, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Close the lid and make sure the pressure release valve is closed. Select the Pressure Cook or Manual setting and set the cooking time for 12 minutes at high pressure.
- When the cooking program finishes, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 5 minutes. You can then release the remaining pressure manually and remove the lid or leave the soup on the “Keep Warm” setting until needed.
- Prior to serving, stir in the chard and vinegar. Allow the heat of the soup to wilt the chard. Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt and pepper if necessary and remove the bay leaf.
- Serve hot, optionally garnish with chopped fresh rosemary.