Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup
Healthy, flavorful and tasty soup made in an electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot). Vegan and gluten free, but you can pair it with meat, if you’d like to. Garnish with fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, a drizzle of oil or top with grated cheese or a scoop of sour cream.
Hello October! We are ready for cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes, cozy meals and awesome homemade soups. I make a different kind of soup pretty much every day, since my family (kids in particular) love soups. A dinner is not complete without them gobbling on a bowl of warm soup.
I do have a lot of lentil soup recipes on the blog, but lately I’ve been into Instant Pot cooking and I make almost all of my soups in this appliance.
Why make red lentil soup in a pressure cooker?
Don’t red lentils cook fast? The truth is that red lentils are are a quick-cooking legume with a mild, subtly sweet flavor. When I say “quick”, they can literally take 10 minutes to cook. In the cooking process, they break down and soften a lot. You can find them at the store in packages in two forms – whole or split red lentils.
Split lentils have had the seed coat removed and are split in half.
They are perfect for curries, stews, soups and dips, but you can add them to salads and grain bowls.
Pressure cooker soups are pretty easy to make, “one pot” meals, that require minimal prep work, stirring and checking on. When red lentil soups cook, you do need to check and stir the lentils and even with a good kitchen ventilation, the room may still get smelly fast. When using the pressure cooker, you may take it outside to release the pressure and save yourself from the intense smell and splashing. One less stovetop to clean.
So the main issue here is to sauté the vegetables, before you add the lentils, so they soften, because the lentils cook even faster than the veggies. This way, they will be perfectly cooked after pressure cooking.
How to make Instant pot red lentil soup
This Instant Pot soup is very easy to make.
The ingredient list is simple and produces a flavorful final result.
- Red lentils (either split or whole, whole lentils may require another extra minute of pressure cooking)
- Vegetable or olive oil for sautéing
- Yellow onion
- Garlic (minced or pressed)
- Celery (optional)
- Red Pepper (optional)
- Tomato sauce
- Vegetable stock
- Lemon juice
- Black pepper
- White pepper (optional, all I used is a pinch of it)
- Smoked (or sweet) paprika
- Bay leaf (optional)
A comforting lentil soup made in 3 easy steps:
- Sauté the vegetables in the Instant Pot in oil for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring frequently.
- Add the tomato sauce, lentils and seasoning, Pour the vegetable stock on top. Add the Bay Leaf and lemon juice.
- Close the lid, set to “Sealing” and cook for 7-8 min at Manual High Pressure. Do a “Quick Release”. Serve.
- A suggestion: Cut the vegetables (onion, garlic, celery, carrots and pepper) into as tiny pieces as possible, so they cook for about the same time as the lentils and are perfectly soft in the soup, not hard and crunchy. If you are the type of person, who likes “crunchy” vegetables in your soups, don’t worry, cut them into larger pieces.
- I suggest “Quick Release” for red lentils, since the longer they sit in the pot, the softer and mushy they will become. While they break down during cooking, I still want to feel texture in the soup.
How long to cook red lentil soup in an Instant Pot?
Cook red lentil soup in the Instant Pot for 7-8 minutes and then do a Quick Release.
They you can keep the soup in “Keep Warm” mode for several hours.
Store, reheat or freeze
Store in the fridge, covered for up to 3 days.
You can reheat this soup in the microwave or on the stove top with a little bit of water or broth, to thin out the soup. This lentil soup thickens as it cools.
Freeze in airtight containers or flat in zip lock bags for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge, then reheat in the microwave or on the stove top on medium-low temperature.
Variations and topping ideas
- You can add cheese like Feta, Cheddar, Mozzarella or Parmesan to this soup, to enhance its taste and make it more filling.
- While this soup is naturally Vegan, you can easily add some cooked (chopped or shredded) chicken or beef.
- Remember my Curried Red Lentil Quinoa Soup? You can definitely serve this Instant Pot version with some cooked quinoa or even rice.
- For a spicier soup, you can add some of your favorite hot sauce to the already cooked soup. Other options include adding red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper or red curry paste to the Instant Pot, before you cook the soup.
- Serve with your favorite crusty bread, like this Dutch Oven No Knead Bread or even make a bread bowl. (I’ve never made a bread bowl, but you can search on the web for how to, or just purchase the type of bread that works for it.
While the soup tastes great without any fancy toppings, here are some options:
- A drizzle of oil – while olive oil is fine, I’ve found a new favorite herb infused flax oil, that I add to salads and soups. It tastes amazing!
- Crunchy pepitas or sunflower seeds make a great topping.
- A few drops of lemon juice (this lentil soup already contains some lemon juice), to enhance its taste. It pairs very well with the seasoning of the soup.
- Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.
More lentil recipes:
Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup
- 1 tbsp vegetable or Grapeseed oil
- 1 small onion — about 1/4 cup, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves — minced
- 2 small carrots — diced (1/2 cup)
- 1 small red pepper — finely chopped (optional)
- 1 stalk celery — finely diced
- 1/3 cup tomato sauce — or 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked paprika — or sweet paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Pinch of white pepper — optional
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils — rinsed
- 1 Bay leaf — optional
- 5 cups vegetable stock — chicken stock or bullion can be used
Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté “ and wait until it says “hot”.
Add the oil, let it heat for 1 minute.
Next add the onion, garlic, carrots, chopped celery and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. The vegetables need to soften.
Add the seasoning and tomato sauce. Stir to combine, Next add in the lentils, lemon juice, stock and Bay leaf.
Cancel “sauté “.
Close the Instant pot lid, set the valve to “sealing”.
Cook for 8 minutes on Manual High Pressure. Do a quick release or wait for the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes, then do quick release.
Serve as it is or blend with an immersion blender.