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With the magic of an Instant Pot and a handful of wholesome ingredients, this Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe is an effortless delight. Perfect for any occasion, from busy weeknights to a cozy Sunday meal, it’s as easy to make as it is satisfying. Brimming with nourishing goodness and rich flavors, it’s bound to become a staple in your meal prep routine, offering both convenience and comfort in every spoonful.

Overhead photo of instant pot lentil soup in a bowl.

❤️ Why You Will Love This Recipe

When it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing quite like a bowl of hearty lentil soup to warm you up from the inside out. This pressure cooker lentil soup is the epitome of home cooking without the fuss. Here’s why you’ll find yourself making it over and over again.

Quick and Easy Preparation

Gone are the days of simmering soup for hours. There’s no need to soak lentils. Pressure cooking in the Instant Pot transforms this dish into a weeknight wonder, cooking up tender lentils and vegetables in just a fraction of the time. It’s the kind of recipe that asks little of you – simply add the ingredients, set the pressure, and let the magic happen.

Versatile and Forgiving

Whether you’re using green lentils, brown lentils for brown lentil soup, or even the elegant French Puy lentils, this recipe caters to them all. And if you’re not a fan of ham, you can easily swap it for bacon, or leave it out altogether for a vegan-friendly version. It’s a recipe that bends to your preferences and pantry staples.

Nutritious and Satisfying

Packed with protein-rich lentils, a variety of vegetables, and flavored with natural broths and herbs, this soup is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s not only filling but also offers a generous dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals with every spoonful.

Perfect for Meal Prep

This Instant Pot Lentil Soup is a meal prepper’s dream. It makes a generous batch, perfect for portioning out and refrigerating or freezing for future meals. Plus, the flavors only get better with time, making your midweek lunches something to look forward to.

Ideal for Any Season

While soup is a classic comfort food for the colder months, this red lentil soup is light and flavorful enough to be enjoyed year-round. It’s a delicious way to make use of seasonal produce, whether you’re tossing in spring greens or autumnal squash. It’s one of those instant pot soup recipes you’ll come back to again and again.

Deliciously Adaptable

This recipe is a wonderful canvas for your culinary creativity. Want a smoky flavor? Add smoked paprika. Craving some heat? Red pepper flakes are your friend. Enjoy more of a tang? Some fire-roasted diced tomatoes work wonders. The possibilities for customization are endless, making this a recipe that never gets old.

A Taste of Scotland

While lentil soup cuisine spans across various cultures, each bringing its unique blend of spices and ingredients, this Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe offers a hearty and wholesome Scottish version that is sure to warm your soul and tantalize your taste buds. I grew up on this recipe and can’t get enough of it when it’s chilly outside or I’m feeling a bit under the weather.

🗝️ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

Red Lentils

The star of the show, red lentils, cook quickly and bring a lovely, earthy flavor and creamy texture to the soup. They’re a fantastic source of protein and fiber. If you don’t have red lentils on hand, you can substitute them with French green lentils or brown lentils, though the cooking time might vary slightly.

Ham or Vegetable Stock

The base of any good soup, the stock enriches the soup with depth and savoriness. Using ham stock will add a smoky, meaty flavor, while low sodium vegetable broth keeps things plant-based. Chicken broth is a great substitute if needed. Water can also be used in a pinch, though you might want to up the seasonings to compensate for the reduced flavor.

Leftover Ham Bone or Ham Stock Cubes

If you’ve got a leftover ham bone, this soup is the perfect place to use it. It infuses the broth with a rich, meaty essence. No ham bone? Ham stock cubes paired with diced ham or bacon will work wonderfully too. For a vegetarian version, simply omit this and perhaps add a bay leaf for an extra layer of flavor.

Vegetables: Carrots, Turnip/Rutabaga, Onions, and Potatoes

This medley of vegetables adds not only nutrition but also texture and sweetness to the soup. Each one plays its role, from the earthiness of the turnip to the natural sugars of the carrots and onions. Note: Rutabaga is called turnip in Scotland. Not a fan of turnips? Try swapping in half a white cabbage or even some diced butternut squash for a different twist.

Seasonings: Salt and Ground Black Pepper

Simple seasonings let the natural flavors of the ingredients shine through. Salt and pepper can be adjusted to taste, and this is also where you can get creative. A pinch of curry powder, a dash of ground cumin, or even a sprinkle of nutritional yeast can add an extra dimension to your hearty soup.

🥣 How to Make Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Creating this heartwarming bowl of lentil soup in your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker is a breeze. Follow these straightforward steps, and you’ll have a delectable meal ready in no time.

Assembling in the Instant Pot

Begin by gathering all your ingredients. Chop your vegetables into bite-sized pieces to ensure they cook evenly.

Place the red lentils, chopped vegetables, ham bone and/or ham scraps (or ham stock cubes and diced ham or bacon), and seasonings into the Instant Pot pressure cooker. Pour in your chosen stock—ham or vegetable—ensuring that the ingredients are well submerged. This will be the foundation of your soup’s flavorful broth.

Pressure Cook

Secure the lid of your Instant Pot and turn the valve to the “sealing” position. Select the ‘pressure cook’ or ‘manual’ setting, then press ‘high pressure’ and set the timer for 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will take a few moments to build up pressure before the cooking time begins. During this time, the ingredients will start to meld together, creating a rich and savory soup base. 

Natural Release

Once the cooking time is up, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release pressure for 30 minutes. This gradual release is crucial as it allows flavors to continue to develop. After 30 minutes, carefully turn the valve to “venting” to quick release any remaining pressure.

Blending and Seasoning

Remove the ham bone from the pot, as well as any large chunks of meat. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to your desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can transfer the soup in batches to a blender or food processor.

Once blended, chop any large meat pieces from the ham bone and stir them back into the soup.

Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Your Instant Pot Lentil Soup is now ready to serve!

A bowl of lentil soup with a chunk of bread in it.

🪄 Recipe Notes & Tips

The Importance of Natural Pressure Release

One of the key steps in this instant pot recipe is allowing the Instant Pot to naturally release pressure. This might seem like a small detail, but it’s crucial for a couple of reasons. First, it prevents the soup from spurting out of the valve—a messy and potentially dangerous situation. Second, it allows the soup to continue cooking gently, ensuring that every ingredient melds together perfectly.

Achieving the Perfect Consistency

The beauty of this soup is that it can be as chunky or as smooth as you like. If you prefer a chunkier soup, simply blend a portion of it, leaving some of the vegetables and lentils intact for texture. For a creamier soup, blend it thoroughly. Remember, the longer you blend, the smoother your soup will be.

Flavor Adjustments

This recipe is wonderfully adaptable to different taste preferences. Feel free to play around with the seasonings. Add a bay leaf for a subtle depth of flavor, or throw in a dash of smoked paprika for a smoky twist. If you like a bit of acidity in your soup, a squeeze of lemon juice can brighten up the flavors beautifully.

The Role of Lentils

Lentils are a fantastic ingredient as they don’t require pre-soaking and cook relatively quickly. Red lentils, in particular, break down and thicken the soup, giving it a creamy consistency without the need for dairy. If you substitute them for green or brown lentils, which hold their shape better, expect a soup with more texture.

🫙 Storage Instructions For Leftover Soup

Instant Pot Lentil Soup not only makes a satisfying meal but also stores beautifully, making it perfect for meal prep or enjoying leftovers throughout the week. For all of my Lentil Soup storage tips, check out my ultimate guide on How Long Does Lentil Soup Last?

Cooling and Storing

Before storing, allow the soup to cool down to room temperature. Transfer the cooled soup to an airtight container. Airtight containers are key in preserving the soup’s freshness and preventing any unwanted fridge odors from seeping in.

Refrigeration

Your delicious lentil soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavors often meld and deepen over time, making the leftovers taste even better! When you’re ready to enjoy it again, simply reheat the soup on the stovetop over medium heat or in the microwave.

Freezing for Longevity

For longer storage, freezing is a great option. This easy lentil soup recipe freezes exceptionally well. Portion the soup into freezer-safe containers or freezer bags, leaving some space at the top as the soup will expand when frozen. Properly stored, it can last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave when you’re ready to enjoy it.

Reheating Tips

When reheating, you may notice the soup has thickened. This is completely normal as the lentils continue to absorb liquid. Simply add a bit of water or broth to reach your desired consistency. Warm the soup over medium heat on the stove, stirring occasionally, or use your microwave, stirring every couple of minutes to ensure even heating.

🍽️ What Can I Serve With Lentil Soup?

Crusty Bread

There’s nothing like a slice of warm, crusty bread to dip into a velvety soup. Whether it’s a gluten-free baguette, sourdough, or a hearty whole-grain loaf, bread is a timeless companion to any soup. And if you’re feeling fancy, spread a bit of garlic butter on your slice and toast it for an extra layer of flavor.

Fresh Herbs

A sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley or fresh thyme can make a world of difference. Not only do these herbs add a burst of color to your bowl, but they also bring in a fresh aroma and taste that contrasts beautifully with the rich depth of the soup.

Dairy and Dairy-Free Toppings

A dollop of yogurt, a drizzle of coconut milk, or a sprinkle of nutritional yeast can add a delightful creaminess to your soup. And for those who enjoy cheese, a few shavings of Parmesan cheese can be absolutely divine.

Salads and Greens

If you’re looking for something light to balance out the meal, a simple green salad with a lemon vinaigrette is a fantastic choice. Alternatively, stir in some baby spinach with a drizzle of olive oil to the soup just before serving. The heat from the soup will wilt the spinach just enough, adding a delightful texture and a boost of nutrients.

Spiced Toppings

For those who like a little kick, red pepper flakes or a dash of curry powder can elevate your bowl to new spicy heights. Remember, it’s all about crafting the perfect bite that suits your taste buds.

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of lentil for this recipe?

Absolutely! While red lentils tend to break down and thicken this Scottish Lentil Soup, you can use green or brown lentils for a chunkier texture. Just keep in mind that cooking times may vary slightly.

Is this soup recipe vegan?

As written, it’s not vegan due to the ham. However, you can easily make it a vegan lentil soup by using veggie broth and omitting the ham, or substituting it with a plant-based protein.

Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker instead?

Yes, you can. The soup will need to cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours in a slow cooker. Make sure to adjust the liquid as slow cookers tend to require more.

How can I thicken the soup if it’s too thin?

If your soup is thinner than you’d like, you can use an immersion blender to blend some of the lentils and vegetables, which will naturally thicken it. Alternatively, you can let the soup simmer uncovered for a bit to reduce.

What can I do if my soup is too thick?

Simply stir in some additional broth or water until your desired consistency is reached.

Ladle scooping lentil soup out of an instant pot.

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📖 Recipe

Overhead photo of instant pot lentil soup in a bowl.

Instant Pot Lentil Soup Recipe

Bethany Galloway
With the magic of an Instant Pot and a handful of wholesome ingredients, this Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe is an effortless delight. Perfect for any occasion, from busy weeknights to a cozy Sunday meal, it's as easy to make as it is satisfying. Ideal for meal prep!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Natural Pressure Release 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine Scottish
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 330 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 3/4 cups red lentils
  • 8.5 cups ham stock or vegetable stock or water
  • 1 leftover ham bone with ham scraps or 2 ham stock cubes with some diced lean ham or bacon
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 1 small rutabaga/turnip chopped (or 1/2 white cabbage)
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 potatoes chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Add everything to the instant pot.
    Pouring broth over soup ingredients in an instant pot.
  • Close the lid and turn the valve to the “sealing” position.
  • Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Allow the pressure to release naturally for 30 minutes and then turn the valve to “venting” to quickly release the remaining pressure release.
  • Remove the ham bone and any large chunks of meat.
    Removing ham meat from lentil soup.
  • Use an immersion blender to blend the soup, or transfer it to a blender or food processor and blend it.
    Blending lentil soup with an immersion blender.
  • Chop up the large meat pieces and mix it back into the soup.
    Adding ham back into lentil soup.
  • Season to taste, and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Natural Pressure Release: This might seem like a small detail, but it’s crucial for a couple of reasons. First, it prevents the soup from spurting out of the valve—a messy and potentially dangerous situation. Second, it allows the soup to continue cooking gently, ensuring that every ingredient melds together perfectly.
  2. Consistency: The beauty of this soup is that it can be as chunky or as smooth as you like. If you prefer a chunkier soup, simply blend a portion of it, leaving some of the vegetables and lentils intact for texture. For a creamier soup, blend it thoroughly. Remember, the longer you blend, the smoother your soup will be.
  3. Flavor Adjustments: Feel free to play around with the seasonings. Add a bay leaf for a subtle depth of flavor, or throw in a dash of smoked paprika for a smoky twist. If you like a bit of acidity in your soup, a squeeze of lemon juice can brighten up the flavors beautifully.
  4. Lentils: Red lentils break down and thicken the soup, giving it a creamy consistency without the need for dairy. If you substitute them for green or brown lentils, which hold their shape better, expect a soup with more texture.
  5. Storage: Allow the soup to cool down to room temperature. Transfer the cooled soup into an airtight container. Your delicious lentil soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, simply reheat the soup on the stovetop over medium heat or in the microwave.
  6. Freezing: Portion the soup into freezer-safe containers or freezer bags, leaving some space at the top as the soup will expand when frozen. Properly stored, it can last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave when you’re ready to enjoy it.
  7. Reheating Tips for Thickened Soup: When reheating, you may notice the soup has thickened. This is completely normal as the lentils continue to absorb liquid. Simply add a bit of water or broth to reach your desired consistency. Warm the soup over medium heat on the stove, stirring occasionally, or use your microwave, stirring every couple of minutes to ensure even heating.

Nutrition

Calories: 330kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 19gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 1974mgPotassium: 1185mgFiber: 21gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 7525IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 89mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Comfort Food, easy, ham stock, instant pot lentil soup, quick, winter
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