It's so easy to make Instant Pot Lentil Stew using dry brown lentils and a handful of flavorful seasonings. This lentil stew freezes well and is filled with nutritious vegetarian ingredients!
I love a good stove-top stew but sometimes it’s easier to let the Instant Pot do the work for you. I come back to this Instant Pot lentil stew time and time again because it's packed with flavor, requires hardly any active time, and it freezes well!
If you've visited my blog before, you know that I love lentils (lentil loaf or lentil potato bowls, anyone?). Brown lentils are great in soup because they are high in protein and fiber. They also cook a little more quickly in the Instant Pot than on the stove.
Why this recipe works
- Quick & easy: Lentils cook in the Instant Pot in just 10 minutes! This recipe is also quite budget-friendly because it uses inexpensive vegetables and staple ingredients, and it makes a lot of soup.
- Healthy comfort food: Like any good stew, this Instant Pot lentil stew is filled with nutritious and hearty ingredients like carrots, tomatoes, and brown lentils.
- Vegetarian as-is: My take on lentil stew is made with only plant-based ingredients, but I like to add shredded Parmesan to take it to the next level.
- Flavorful: The spices in this soup are inspired by Trader Joe's ancient grains lentil soup, just like my lentil quinoa soup. It may look like a lot of spices, but they add a lot of depth and flavor to the recipe.
- Lentils: Choose dry green or brown lentils for lentil soup. Red and orange lentils do not work here because they cook too quickly. Try this Instant Pot red lentil curry if you're looking for a recipe that uses red lentils.
- Vegetable broth: I like to use a salt-free vegetable broth so that I have more control over saltiness. Vegetable bouillon like Better than Bouillon vegetable base is also a great option.
- Mirepoix: A combination of diced celery, onion, and carrots sautéed in olive oil gives body and flavor to the lentil stew.
- Crushed tomatoes: Choose one 14-ounce can of unseasoned crushed tomatoes.
- Spices: Cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, marjoram, fresh parsley and nutmeg provide warmth and depth to the soup. One tablespoon of fresh parsley can be replaced with one teaspoon of dry parsley, if needed.
All of my Instant Pot recipes are made in a 6 qt DUO60 Instant Pot.
Step 1. Sauté onion, carrots, celery in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the onions start to turn translucent add in the minced garlic. Sauté until aromatic, about one minute.
Step two: Deglaze the Instant Pot with vegetable broth to help prevent the burn error.
Step three: Stir in the spices, vegetable broth, and lentils.
Step four: Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully do a manual pressure release.
Step 5: After cooking, stir in a can of crushed tomatoes with their juices and lemon juice. To thicken the soup, turn on “sauté” mode and simmer until the desired consistency is reached.
If you prefer a very soft lentil soup, cook the lentils for 12 minutes instead of 10. For entirely intact lentils with a bit of bite to them, cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.
No. Unlike other legumes like black beans or chickpeas, lentils cook very quickly in the Instant Pot and don't need to be soaked.
This recipe can be doubled in a 6 or 8-quart Instant Pot but not in a 4-quart Instant Pot.
The acidity of tomatoes can affect dry bean cook time and texture. For the most consistent results, I like to add the tomatoes after cooking so that there is no risk of the lentil cooking time being affected.
I love using lentil soup as a vehicle for all my favorite soup toppings.
- Add a sprinkle of Parmesan (or vegan) cheese, fresh chopped parsley and a dash of hot sauce.
- Serve with with crackers or homemade cast iron biscuits.
- Looking for a soup and sandwich combo? Try out this chickpea salad sandwich, vegetarian Reuben, or even a grilled cheese with a side of soup.
Storage: Leftover lentil stew is best within 4 to 5 days. Keep refrigerated in a closed container.
Reheating: Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat or in the Instant Pot using the "saute" function. Stir occasionally, until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
Freezing: Let the soup cool completely before freezing. Freeze individual portions or the entire batch of soup in freezer-safe containers (these are my favorite containers). It will take up to 24 hours to thaw frozen soup in the fridge. For a quicker process, heat in a saucepan or in the microwave until defrosted.
Looking for more Instant Pot recipes?
Don't have an Instant Pot? You can make a variation of this recipe on the stovetop with my Lentil Quinoa Soup.
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Vegetarian Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- 1 and ½ cups dry brown lentils
- 5 and ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup diced carrots 1-2 large carrots
- 1 cup diced celery 1-2 celery stalks
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes with juices
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from one small lemon
- Rinse the dry brown lentils and remove any stones or debris. Set aside.
- Press the saute function on your Instant Pot. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the carrots, onions and celery and sprinkle with the salt.
- Saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute more, until aromatic.
- Add a splash of vegetable broth to deglaze the pot. Stir to remove any stuck on bits from the pot.
- Stir in the parsley, cumin, marjoram, paprika, cayenne pepper, table salt, nutmeg, black pepper, remaining vegetable broth, and lentils. Seal the lid and set the pressure valve to sealing.
- Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure. Once cooked, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Manually release the pressure; careful, hot steam will spurt out.
- Remove the lid and stir in the can of crushed tomatoes with their juices. Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. If you prefer a thicker soup, turn on the sauté function and evaporate off the liquid.
- Enjoy topped with crackers, more fresh parsley, and a sprinkle of your favorite cheese.
- Keeps best for 4-5 days in the fridge.
- To freeze: Let soup cool to room temp before freezing. Freeze individual portions or the entire batch of soup in freezer-safe containers (these are my favorite containers). To thaw: It will take up to 24 hours to thaw frozen soup in the fridge. For a quicker process, heat in a saucepan or in the microwave until defrosted.
- Can I double this recipe? This recipe can be doubled if you are using a 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot.