This Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup is a comforting and healthy meal that just happens to be vegan and gluten free! Enjoy a bowl (or two) on chilly winter days or for a filling dinner on Meatless Monday.
Get over the winter blues with this vibrant and hearty Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup. Loaded with delicious vegan ingredients, like lentils, vegetables, spices, and vegetable broth, it’ll have you feeling warm and comforted, inside and out.
This easy red lentil soup is almost as filling and delicious as my quinoa vegetable soup, but just so happens to be a little more lively in flavor. You can thank the curry powder and lemon juice for this. They really work together to make each bowl of soup warm, bright, and balanced.
As if the layers of bright flavors and hearty lentils weren’t enough, this recipe is also very hands-off. Just throw everything in your Instant Pot and in less than 30 minutes, it’s good to go!
- It’s naturally vegan and gluten free (while still packing in the flavor).
- The Instant Pot does all the work!
- Probably the most budget-friendly, healthly meal out there.
- Red lentils - This recipe only works with dried red lentils. Canned lentils are already cooked, so they’ll turn to mush in the Instant Pot.
- Soup vegetables - Like carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Feel free to add more if you’d like!
- Curry powder - A little curry powder gives the soup flavor and color. If you prefer it to taste more like a lentil curry, use up to 1 teaspoon.
- Vegetable broth - This will give your soup a nice balance of vegetable-forward flavors, but chicken broth could work as a substitute.
- Lemon juice - An essential ingredient for brightness and balance, so don’t skip it!
- Coconut milk/heavy cream - I love adding just a little bit to make this soup even creamier.
Step 1: Sauté the veggies. Turn the Instant Pot to “Sauté” mode. Cook the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic with some oil in the pot until soft and tender.
Step 2: Add the rest and cook. Pour the tomato paste, salt, cumin, curry powder, lentils, vegetable broth, and water into the pot. Seal the lid on top and pressure cook for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Release the pressure. Set the Natural Release for 10 minutes, then manually release.
Step 4: Flavor, then serve. Stir the finished soup before adding the lemon juice. Serve it right away in bowls and top with a pinch of chili flakes and a drizzle of coconut milk or cream.
Expert tips and FAQs
- If you really want to make this soup hearty, you can add in some chopped potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash.
- You can stir some fresh leafy greens, like spinach, into the soup once it’s finished.
- Some meat would be tasty in the soup as well. Sprinkle each bowl with bacon or tempeh bacon, or stir ham or shredded chicken right into the soup.
- Before cooking the soup, place the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Feel free to puree the soup with an immersion blender if you prefer a smooth texture.
- Want even more tips? Check out. this article on factors to consider when making lentil soup.
Do the lentils need to be soaked first?
Red lentils don’t have a tough outer shell, unlike green or brown lentils, which means there’s no need to soak them first. They break down easily and soften quickly, which is why they’re so perfect in soups and stews.
Can you make this with another kind of lentil?
You can try this recipe with green or brown lentils (I haven’t tested it) but the cooking time and texture of the soup will change. Personally, I think the two are better off in lentil meatballs or in a vegan bolognese.
What if I don’t own an Instant Pot?
Make it on the stove or in a slow cooker instead! To make red lentil soup in a slow cooker, add the sauteed veggies and the rest of the soup ingredients (except the lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and cream) to a crockpot. Cook on Low for about 5 or 6 hours, then finish it up with the lemon juice, chili flakes, and cream.
To make it on the stove, saute the veggies in a large soup pot. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and cream) to the pot and simmer until the lentils are soft. Add the finishing lemon juice, chili flakes, and cream, then serve.
- Refrigerator: Pack up the leftovers in airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezer: Lentil soup freezes well for up to 3 months. Make sure to store it in an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag once it’s cooked and cooled completely. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
More hearty soup recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 carrots chopped
- 2 celery ribs chopped
- 1 cup yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon curry powder see notes
- 1 ½ cups red lentils dry (not canned)
- 32 oz. vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice or more to taste
- coconut milk or heavy cream drizzle
- Add olive oil, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to your Instant Pot, then press "sauté" and sauté the mixture for 8-10 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.
- Next, add the tomato paste, salt, cumin, curry powder, lentils, vegetable broth, and water. Then, place the lid on top, ensuring the knob is in the "seal" position, and pressure cook for 10 minutes. Natural release for 10 minutes, then manually release.
- Give the soup a good stir, then add the red pepper flakes and lemon juice.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, then drizzle 1-2 tablespoon of coconut milk or heavy cream on top. Enjoy!
This is simply delicious and easy to make - even better than Mom's homemade lentil soup!
I love to hear that!
It was good and I would make it again but I would cook it for less time.
Beth Paolero says
Delicious! I used kefir for the drizzle at the end. Thank you!
YUM -- going to try that next time. Thanks for the positive review!
Delicious! I made this for lunch today, because I actually had all the ingredients. Super easy, tons of flavor, and I have leftovers for the week now!
Thanks for this comment, Laura -- I'm so glad you liked it (and hooray for leftovers!).