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Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings: 4 (or 6 with bread)
Calories: 395kcal
Author: Nisha Vora


  • Instant Pot


  • 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****


  • 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.



*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).