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Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup

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Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup is quick and easy to make, loaded with warm Moroccan flavors, and packed with healthy plant protein and vegetables! This vegan and gluten-free recipe is the perfect, hearty meal for chilly winter days.

Check out the Instant Pot Recipes page for even more delicious pressure cooker recipes and tips.

Two bowls of red lentil soup topped with chopped cilantro.

There is nothing better than a big bowl of hot and delicious soup on a cold day, and this lentil soup is exactly what I was looking for! This naturally creamy soup still has some texture, and the combination of spices adds an amazing depth of flavor.

What are lentils?

Lentils are an edible legume that is also referred to as pulses that have a distinctive earthy flavor. Chickpeas, beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are also legumes. Lentils have a higher level of protein than beans and a single serving meets 23% of your daily fiber needs.

Lentil types are classified by their size, whether they are whole or split, shelled or unshelled. The outer coat of the pulses range from light green to deep purple, as well as being gray, tan, black, brown, or molted. Shelled pulses are smaller and show the inside colors that range from red, yellow, orange, and green.

Lentils, or daals, are a staple cuisine of the Indian subcontinent that are split pulses that do not require soaking before cooking. They can be eaten soaked, boiled, germinated, fried, or baked.

What you will need

Ingredients needed to make instant pot red lentil soup.
  • Onion, celery, and carrots are sautéed in olive to create the flavor base for the soup.
  • Fresh garlic adds an additional layer of flavor without being overpowering.
  • Vegetable stock or broth is the cooking liquid used to cook the red lentils, but chicken broth can be substituted if you prefer.
  • Cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and a pinch of saffron add warmth, and bay leaves adds a little something extra.
  • A bit of tomato paste adds richness without adding texture.
  • Fresh cilantro leaves add a pungent, bright, lemony, and a slightly peppery taste, and fresh lemon adds even more bright flavor and tang to finish off the soup before serving.

Be sure to check out the detailed printable recipe card below.

Looking down on two bowls of red lentil soup topped with chopped cilantro with torn naan bread in the background.

How to make the best Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Plug in the Instant Pot and press the Sauté button. When display reads HOT, add the oil. Swirl around the bottom, then add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook until they are slightly softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chopped onion, carrots, and sliced celery in a pressure cooker.

Add the garlic, stir and cook for one additional minute. Pour in half of the vegetable stock and use a wooden turner to scape up any browned bits from the bottom. Add the remaining stock, tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and saffron. Stir to combine.

Vegetable broth and and spices added to the sautéed vegetables.

Stir in the rinsed lentils and bay leaves.

Lentils and two bay leaves added to the soup mixture.

Secure the lid, check to make sure the knob is in the sealing position, and press the Cancel or Warm button. Press the Pressure Cook or Manual button on High pressure and adjust the time to 4 minutes using the + and or – buttons.

Instant Pot with 4 minutes on High pressure with red arrows pointing to the buttons.

When the pot beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. Press the knob to release any leftover pressure.

Cooked red lentil soup with a bay leaf in a pressure cooker.

Remove the bay leaves then stir in the chopped cilantro, lemon zest and juice.

A wooden spoon to stir the chopped cilantro and lemon zest into the cooked red lentil soup.

Serve hot garnished with additional cilantro, drizzled with coconut cream, a sprinkle of paprika for color, or red pepper flakes for spiciness.

Two bowls of Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup with chopped cilantro and pieces of bread in the background.

Serve with naan, crusty bread, or in bread bowls if desired.

Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Cooled soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or frozen for 3 months. Thaw then reheat in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Saffron is a spice from the flower Crocus sativa. The “threads” or stigma and styles are dried and used to add flavor and color food. It is an expensive spice that can be omitted if needed. It adds flavor, but not enough to make or break the recipe.
  • For a smooth soup, puree with an immersion blender before serving.
  • This soup thickens as it cools. If it becomes too thick, add additional heated stock until you reach your desired consistency.
  • For a chunkier soup, reduce pressure release down to 5 or 10 minutes.
  • To substitute green or brown lentils in this recipe: cook for 15 minutes and allow pressure to release for 5 minutes.

Tools used to create this recipe

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More Instant Pot soup recipes

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Enjoy!!

Two bowls of red lentil soup topped with chopped cilantro.

Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup

Quick and easy Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup is loaded with warm Moroccan flavors and packed with healthy plant protein and vegetables!
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Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Moroccan
Keyword: lentil soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Pressure Release: 15 minutes
Total Time: 29 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 137kcal
Author: Lisa Johnson

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.25 cup diced yellow onion
  • .75 cup diced carrots 2 medium
  • .75 cup celery thinly sliced – 2 ribs
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or broth can substitute chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • .25 teaspoon ground ginger
  • generous pinch saffron threads
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1.5 cups red lentils rinsed
  • .33 cup chopped cilantro leaves half a bunch
  • 1 medium lemon zest and juice 2 tablespoons juice

Instructions

  • Plug in the Instant Pot and press the Sauté button. When display reads HOT, add the oil. Swirl around the bottom, then add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook until they are slightly softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the garlic, stir and cook for one additional minute. Pour in half of the vegetable stock and use a wooden turner to scape up any browned bits from the bottom. Add the remaining stock, tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and saffron. Stir to combine.
  • Stir in the rinsed lentils and bay leaves.
  • Secure the lid, check to make sure the knob is in the sealing position, and press the Cancel or Warm button. Press the Pressure Cook or Manual button on High pressure and adjust the time to 4 minutes using the + and or – buttons.
  • When the pot beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. Press the knob to release any leftover pressure.
  • Remove the bay leaves then stir in the chopped cilantro, lemon zest and juice. Serve with naan, crusty bread, or in bread bowls if desired.
  • Serve hot garnished with additional cilantro, drizzled with coconut cream, a sprinkle of paprika for color, or red pepper flakes for spiciness.

Notes

  • Cooled soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or frozen for 3 months. Thaw then reheat in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Saffron is a spice from the flower Crocus sativa. The “threads” or stigma and styles are dried and used to add flavor and color food. It is an expensive spice that can be omitted if needed. It adds flavor, but not enough to make or break the recipe.
  • For a smooth soup, puree with an immersion blender before serving.
  • This soup thickens as it cools. If it becomes too thick, add additional heated stock until you reach your desired consistency.
  • For a chunkier soup, reduce pressure release down to 5 or 10 minutes.
  • To substitute green or brown lentils in this recipe: cook for 15 minutes and allow pressure to release for 5 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 137kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 988mg | Potassium: 367mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3346IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg

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