Rich, thick, filling, and super flavorful lentil soup made quick and easy in the Instant Pot! Not your average lentil soup, this version has so much more flavor, thanks to plenty of spices and fresh lemon zest, and is positively addictive with crusty bread. Comforting and healthy, it doesn’t get better than that!
What Makes Instant Pot Lentil Soup So Good
- My Instant Pot lentil soup is absolutely delicious. It’s thick and spiced and warm, all in a beautiful way that supports the lentils without being too “vegetable soupy”.
- It’s incredibly nutritious, and the lentils are a great non-meat source of protein. Perfect for meatless Mondays (or any day) or just for the vegetarians/vegans in your life. If you need it to be dairy free, just leave the parmesan cheese off at the end!
- This is a great freezer meal, so feel free to make a big batch and save some for later in the year. Just thaw it overnight before reheating it on the stovetop. If you don’t want to wait that long to enjoy your next bowl of lentil soup, leftovers can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to one week.
Key Ingredients for Instant Pot Lentil Soup
Lentils – Specifically red lentils! They cook faster than green lentils and have a slightly different flavor and texture, too. You can use green, brown, or yellow lentils if you want, they’ll just taste a little different, and you may need to adjust the cook time. Whatever color lentils you use, there’s no need to soak them first in this recipe. Much like my Instant Pot Pinto Beans (No Soak!), you can toss the lentils into the pressure cooker 100% dry. They’ll still come out with the perfect texture!
Onions – Don’t underestimate them! Chopped onion gives the Instant Pot lentil soup a little bite and a nice texture. If you haven’t learned the easiest, fastest way to chop on onion, be sure to read my post on it first!
Lemon Zest – It’s simple, but so effective. Lemon zest gives the Instant Pot lentil soup this gorgeous brightness, without overdoing the acidity. Want to know the best way to zest your lemon? Check out my post all about lemon zest!
- It’s important that you don’t add the salt to the Instant Pot until the lentil soup is done cooking. If you add it too early, the lentils will toughen.
- This recipe calls for roughly sliced spinach, which is even easier than it sounds! To slice the spinach, lay the leaves out on a cutting board and rock your knife back and forth in only one direction. This is just a very rough slice, so don’t worry about it being perfect!
- I absolutely love a bowl of Instant Pot lentil soup with a good, thick slice of toast. My favorite way is to slice a nice loaf of crusty bread into 1-inch thick pieces, spray both sides with olive oil, then sprinkle both sides with a little salt. After that, I bake the bread slices at 400° Fahrenheit until the bread turns golden brown and the edges are a deeper brown, but still light in some spots.
You Have to Try These Other Instant Pot Recipes!
- Instant Pot Applesauce
- Instant Pot Dal
- Dreamy Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Dip
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
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Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- Instant Pot or pressure cooker
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups dry red lentils
- 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 2 cups water or additional stock
- 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups spinach roughly sliced, see Notes
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon see Notes
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- toast for serving, see Notes
- fresh parmesan cheese optional, for serving
- Set Instant Pot to Sauté mode and add olive oil. Heat oil over medium heat until warmed through, then add onions, carrots, and celery.
- Cook vegetables, stirring constantly, until onion is tender, then stir in garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, and bay leaves. Cook an additional 2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes, stir in lentils, chicken (or vegetable) stock, water, and crushed tomatoes. Cover with lid and seal with valve in sealing position.
- Set Instant Pot to Manual High Pressure for 10 minutes. Once 10 minute cook time is up, Natural Release 5 minutes, then Quick Release any remaining pressure.
- Carefully remove lid, then stir in spinach, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
- Ladle lentil soup into bowls (remove bay leaves) and serve warm with toast (see Notes) and fresh parmesan cheese (optional).
- Don’t add the salt until the cooking is done. If you add it too early, the lentils will toughen.
- Be sure to remove the bay leaves before serving! They add a lot of flavor to the dish but they’re not pleasant to eat.
- Spinach: To slice the spinach, lay the leaves out on a cutting board and rock your knife back and forth in only one direction. This is just a very rough slice, so don’t worry about it being perfect!
- Lemon Zest: For the easiest zesting methods, see my post all about lemon zest!
- Toast: I slice a nice loaf of crusty bread into 1-inch thick pieces, spray both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle both sides with a little salt, then bake at 400° Fahrenheit until the bread turns golden brown and the edges are a deeper brown, but still light in some spots.
- Make it Vegetarian/Vegan: Use vegetable stock or water instead of chicken stock.
- Make it Dairy Free: Don’t add parmesan at the end, or use a dairy-free parmesan alternative.
- Make it Gluten Free: Make sure your chicken/vegetable stock is gluten free, or use water instead. Serve with a gluten-free toast, or skip the toast altogether.
- This recipe was tested and perfected using a 6-quart Instant Pot. For a smaller Instant Pot, cut the recipe in half. For a larger Instant Pot, you shouldn’t need to make any adjustments to ingredients quantities. Cook time will remain the same for any size Instant Pot.
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Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.