Instant Pot Lentil Soup

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This Instant Pot Lentil Soup is not your ordinary lentil soup! It's hearty, rich, and flavor-packed yet healthy, vegan, and gluten-free. Thanks to the Instant Pot, it's so easy & quick to make and is great for meal prep and freezing.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
4.9 from 70 votes

There are so many good reasons to add this Instant Pot Lentil Soup to your rotation. 

  • Hearty. This is your not ordinary lentil soup! It’s almost meaty in texture and thick and rich. Adding potatoes not only provides textural interest but also naturally thickens the soup.
  • Healthy and Allergen-Friendly. Despite being hearty, it’s 100% wholesome and features protein-rich, fiber-rich, iron-rich lentils. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free.
  • Deep Flavor: Thanks to a bouquet garni of fresh herbs (my favorite soup flavor-builder), this soup has a woodsy depth of flavor you won’t find in most soups, along with great sweet-tangy flavor from whole peeled tomatoes and aged balsamic vinegar.
  • Quick and Simple. There’s just 10 minutes of hands on cooking, and then the Instant Pot takes over and does it’s magic (but there’s also stovetop instructions if you don’t have an Instant Pot). Plus, all the ingredients are simple and straightforward.
  • Meal Prep- and Freezer-Friendly. This soup is a great option for meal prep and freezes really well!
  • Instant Pot Friendly. This soup is even easier in the instant pot (though an instant pot is not required to make it).

P.S.: Looking for more vegan Instant Pot recipes? I’ve got over 90 in my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook!

P.P.S.: Looking for another super easy, comforting yet healthy Instant Pot soup? Try this Creamy Cauliflower Soup!

instant pot lentil soup in blue bowl with seeded bread on wooden table

Watch: How to make Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Step-by-Step Instructions

Gather your ingredients!

ingredients for instant pot lentil soup

Heat the olive oil in the Instant Pot on the Sauté setting. Once hot, sauté the onions with a pinch of salt until nicely golden and completely soft, 6 to 9 minutes.

Add the carrots and garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in a bit of veggie broth to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits.

Add the rest of the broth, lentils, potatoes, salt and pepper, and bouquet garni (fresh herb bundle tied with kitchen twine). Stir well to submerge the bouquet garni.

Pour the crushed tomatoes on top but do not stir. Pressure cook for 12 minutes, then allow a natural pressure release for 12 minutes. Open the pot and stir in the balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard.

Tips for making this Instant Pot Lentil Soup

French green lentils are best in this recipe. Unlike regular green (or brown lentils), they hold their shape well when cooked and do not turn mushy. They also have a nice subtle peppery flavor. Some grocery stores sell French lentils, some don’t, so I typically buy a big bag of French green lentils (affiliate link) online and it lasts me a long time (enough to make this soup 9 or 10 times!).

For soup texture, if you want a thinner consistency that’s soupier than the soup shown in photos here, you can add an additional cup of broth. Or, when the soup is done, if it’s too thick for your taste, you can always add some more broth and stir until heated through.

For the finishing ingredients, use the best balsamic vinegar you have. It adds this complex sweet tanginess and depth of flavor, and rounds out all the flavors. It makes the lentils taste meatier and the tomatoes sweeter.

  • Giuseppe Giusti makes my absolute favorite balsamic vinegar, and I’ve tried a lot of brands (affiliate link). It’s not cheap but a little really does go a long way, and it’s made by a family who’s been making balsamic vinegar since the 1600s(!) so you know it’s good.
  • When buying balsamic vinegar, look for bottles that say “aged” and ideally say something like “balsamic vinegar of Modena (IGP)” (or balsamic tradizionale, but that’s very pricy!). The standard $3 imitation balsamic at every grocery store is just sour and doesn’t do any favors.
  • If you don’t have a good balsamic, try using 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, taste, and then add more as desired. Neither of these is sweet in the same way as balsamic, so if the soup tastes too tangy, add a pinch or two of sugar or maple syrup (it won’t taste sweet, just there to balance the flavors).
instant pot lentil soup in blue bowl with seeded bread on wooden table

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t have an Instant Pot. Can I make this soup on the stovetop?

Yep! Stovetop instructions are in the second recipe card below.

I can’t find French green lentils. What can I use instead?

If you want distinct lentils in your soup, Black beluga lentils would be your best bet. If you can’t find those, just sub regular green (or brown) lentils, but consider reducing the pressure cook time to 10 minutes instead of 12 minutes, since they soften more quickly.

How long does this soup last in the fridge and how should I reheat it?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-6 days. It will thicken as it rests, so I recommend reheating it on the stove over medium heat with a few splashes of veggie broth until it reaches your desired consistency.

Can you freeze this lentil soup?

Yep! It freezes pretty great. Once it’s cool, transfer to a few small containers (makes it quicker to defrost). I like using these single-serve Souper Cubes (affiliate link). It makes it easy to defrost an individual block of soup on the stove in less than 10 minutes. It should stay good in the freezer for 4 months. Or, you can defrost the soup in the fridge.

Can I double this recipe?

If you have a 6-quart Instant Pot like I do, I think doubling would make the soup too voluminous to fit below the IP’s maximum capacity limit. If you have an 8-quart model, however, you should be fine.

What Instant Pot model do you recommend?

For most folks, a 6-quart model is sufficient. If you cook for more 6 or more people on a regular basis, the 8-quart makes most sense. A good model for beginners is the Duo Plus (their most popular model), but if you want a bit more customization, the Pro is great (affiliate links).

Can I add more vegetables to this soup?

Sure. Some baby spinach or baby kale folded into the cooked soup would be great. Turn on the Sauté setting and let it cook for a couple minutes until the greens are wilted.

instant pot lentil soup in blue bowl with seeded bread on wooden table

I hope you give this easy and delicious Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe a try! If you do, please leave a rating and review below with your feedback and tag me on Instagram with your remakes :)

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

4.9 from 70 votes
This Instant Pot Lentil Soup is not your ordinary lentil soup! It's hearty, rich, and flavor-packed yet healthy, vegan, and gluten-free. Thanks to the Instant Pot, it's so easy & quick to make and is great for meal prep and freezing.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Soup
Cuisine: French-Inspired
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4 (or 6 with bread)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced (peeled or not)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups (960 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 pound baby potatoes, quartered (peel left on)*
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) French green lentils (Puy lentils)
  • Bouquet garni: 2 bay leaves + a few sprigs each of Italian flat-leaf parsley, fresh rosemary, oregano, and thyme, tied tightly together with kitchen twine**
  • 1 (28-ounce/800g) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand***
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar****

Instructions

  • Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot (normal or medium heat level). After a few minutes, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion is nicely golden and completely soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and garlic along with a pinch of salt and a few cracks of pepper. Cook until the carrots are just starting to soften, about 3 minutes.
  • Pour in a bit of vegetable broth and stir to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining broth, lentils, potatoes, bouquet garni, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and several cracks of pepper. Stir gently.
  • Pour the crushed tomatoes (including juices) on top, but don’t stir (this prevents the tomatoes from sinking to the bottom and triggering the Burn notice).
    Note: getting the can nice and low right into the pot helps keep the tomatoes resting on top (instead of pouring from high above).
  • Secure the lid and set the valve to Sealing (not Venting). Select the Pressure Cook setting (or Manual setting on older models) at high pressure and set the cook time to 12 minutes.
  • Once the 12-minute timer has completed and beeps, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Then manually release any remaining steam.
  • Open the pot and remove the bouquet garni. Stir in the dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar and taste. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

*If you don’t have baby potatoes, you can use larger golden or yellow potatoes; just chop them into small pieces.  
** If you don’t have all the herbs, it’s totally fine to use just 2 or 3 of them.
*** I prefer whole peeled tomatoes, as they are made with just tomatoes (pre-crushed and pre-diced tomatoes have other ingredients added), so there’s more pure tomato flavor. If you don’t have them, though, just use pre-crushed tomatoes. 
**** A good-quality aged balsamic vinegar is needed: it adds a subtle sweet tanginess that works so well with lentils. The standard $3 imitation balsamic at every grocery store is just sour and doesn’t do any favors. If you don’t have a good balsamic, try using 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, taste, and then add more as desired. If the soup tastes too tangy, add a pinch or two of sugar or maple syrup (it won’t taste sweet, just there to balance the flavors).

Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 757mg | Potassium: 1761mg | Fiber: 29g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 7907IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 149mg | Iron: 9mg

Lentil Soup (Stovetop)

4.9 from 54 votes
This Lentil Soup is not your ordinary lentil soup! It's hearty, rich, and flavor-packed yet healthy, vegan, and gluten-free. This soup is great for meal prep and freezing.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 55 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 8 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Soup
Cuisine: French-Inspired
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4 to 6 (with bread)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced (peeled or not)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups (960 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 pound (450g) baby potatoes, quartered (peel left on)
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) French green lentils (AKA Puy lentils)
  • Bouquet garni: 2 bay leaves + a few sprigs each of Italian flat-leaf parsley, fresh rosemary, oregano, and thyme, tied tightly together with kitchen twine*
  • 1 28-ounce (800g) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand**
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar***

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion, along with a pinch or two of salt. Cook until onion has softened and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and garlic and another pinch of salt. Cook until the carrots are just starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth to deglaze the pot. Add the lentils, potatoes, bouquet garni, crushed tomatoes (including their juices), 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Stir well.
  • Bring the soup to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover the pot partially, and simmer the soup for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. If the soup seems to be too thick or dry, add the additional broth, ½ cup at a time.
  • Remove the bouquet garni. Stir in the dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar and taste. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

* If you don’t have all the herbs, it’s totally fine to use just 2 or 3 of them.
** I prefer whole peeled tomatoes, as they are made with just tomatoes (pre-crushed and pre-diced tomatoes have other ingredients added), so there’s more pure tomato flavor. If you don’t have them, though, just use pre-crushed tomatoes. 
*** A good-quality aged balsamic vinegar is needed: it adds a subtle sweet tanginess that works so well with lentils. The standard $3 imitation balsamic at every grocery store is just sour and doesn’t do any favors. If you don’t have a good balsamic, try using 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, taste, and then add more as desired. If the soup tastes too tangy, add a pinch or two of sugar or maple syrup (it won’t taste sweet, just there to balance the flavors).

Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 757mg | Potassium: 1761mg | Fiber: 29g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 7907IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 149mg | Iron: 9mg

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115 comments on Instant Pot Lentil Soup

  1. Kevan

    I love your Vegan red lentil curry! So I came back for more recipes. I am concerned about the addition of tomatoes in the beginning of this recipe for instant pot lentil soup. In my experience, tomatoes and salt added in the beginning prevent lentils from softening. This explains-https://www.cooksillustrated.com/articles/1745-can-baking-soda-make-beans-cook-faster
    Let me know your thoughts. Perhaps the pressure in the IPot counteracts the acid which keeps the beans hard?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      From Nisha: “Hi there! Sorry for the late response. Glad you do :) The high pressure of the instant pot really takes care of things, so I’ve never had an issue with the lentils not cooking through or softening when adding tomatoes (I use this combination often in soups, stews, curries, etc. in the Instant Pot). As for salt, I typically always add some salt to the cooking water for lentils to to season them (waiting until the end doesn’t give them the same nuanced flavor), and never have any issues with them not softening. Unless you’re adding a large quantity of salt, I don’t think it slows down the cooking.”

  2. Ari

    Is it okay to substitute red lentils or green lentils instead? Those are what I have on hand. I’m not sure what the texture would be like, though.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Ari, green lentils would be a better substitution than red because they hold their shape much better. We hope you get the chance to try the recipe!

  3. Nechelle

    5 stars
    I’m learning to cook for m vegetarian daughter and this was DELICIOUS!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Nechelle, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  4. Sam

    5 stars
    Another 5 stars out of 5 stars recipe.
    Thank you Nisha <3
    This is the best lentil soup I have ever made, or tasted. It is filled with SO much flavour.
    We are going into Autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere and I can see myself eating this A LOT over the next 6 months!!!

    I just added more water cause I like mine soupy/watery.

    This one is going down in my recipe cookbook.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Sam. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  5. Susan

    Loved it!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Susan! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  6. Jenn

    5 stars
    Love this! It’s healthy but it doesn’t taste that way, which is my favorite kind of dish. And since it’s made in the instant pot, I can still make it when the weather’s warm without heating up my kitchen.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Jenn!

  7. Rob

    5 stars
    My goodness was this delicious! Recipe was very straightforward but I took the time to watch the instructional video and go through the step by step photos. I so appreciate the extra detail – it made this recipe basically foolproof.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Rob!

  8. Jackie

    5 stars
    A fantastic and remarkably simple recipe. Will make this apart of my dinner rotation for sure.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Jackie. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  9. Cat Hoagland

    5 stars
    This was excellent. I did substitute Italian seasoning (1Tbs) for the bouquet of herbs except for the bay leaves.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Cat!

  10. Christine

    5 stars
    Delicious! My Whole family loved it! I will absolutely make it again!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Christine, So glad to hear everyone loved this recipe!

  11. Etelka LaFontaine

    1 star
    Sorry, but this was awful.
    It’s tomato soup with lentils and potatoes. Pas Français du tout, beurk!

    1. Jetlag

      5 stars
      Rude, what made you think it was French? Other than the Puy Lentils (French Lentils) there is no mention of France? Yuk is a bit harsh. Try spreading a bit of love ❤️ it might make your taste buds a bit sweeter. 🙏🏼

    2. Enchilada

      5 stars
      Something tells me you either messed the recipe up or you didn’t even make it lol.

  12. Delia

    5 stars
    This dish was delicious. I’d absolutely make it again. Your instructions are very easy to follow. It was enjoyed by all!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Delia!

  13. Melody

    I love making stuff like this, only problem I don’t have an instapot. I am more of a slow cooker person. How do lentils hold up in a slow cooker??

  14. Kathryn

    5 stars
    Easy and delicious! We made it in about half and hour for a lovely lunch. I tossed in a couple of large handfulls of fresh spinach – not because it was needed, but because I had in in my fridge – which added some color.
    I’ll make this again (and again!). Thanks Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Kathryn. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  15. Gwen Lindsey

    5 stars
    I’d like to make this but first a question. I thought the ratio of lentils to water should be 1:2? So, your 1.5 lentils would mean 3 cups of broth – perhaps less because there will be liquid in the tomatoes. Your recipe calls for 4 cups of liquid, which seems higher than needed. Is this because this is a soup recipe? Would it be okay if I stick with 2.5 cups of broth + tomato liquid, and the result will be more of a stew? Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Gwen, the ratio might be for just cooking lentils with water, not necessarily for a soup or stew with other ingredients. As written, the recipe is quite thick as is. You can use a bit less liquid, but I wouldn’t go down to 2.5 cups. We made it the first time with 3 cups and it was very much like a stew.

    2. Liv

      You probably need the liquid to cook the potatoes, and they will soak a lot if it up so I would keep it or go with Yukon golds for their buttery soft texture.

  16. Lindsay Gray

    5 stars
    Delicious! Easy to follow, loved the alternatives (we didn’t have each ingredient on hand), and looking forward to leftovers. Saved some for lunch this week but froze the rest. Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Lindsay, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  17. Kianna

    5 stars
    This is a great dish!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Kianna!

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