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Instant Pot Lentil Soup (or Slow Cooker)

Instant Pot Lentil Soup – the perfect 12-minute meal that is big on flavor when you’re short on time. A special ingredient takes this soup to the next level.

lentil soup in a bowl with a brown background

Do you know how ugly lentil soup is? I mean, just downright butt ugly. People say you eat with your eyes first. If that is the case, I would eat lentil soup with my eyes c-l-o-s-e-d.

But if eating visually is the first step, actually tasting food is the next. And when you taste this lentil soup, you’ll forget all about its homely appearance. Packed full of veggies and other flavors, this soup is pleased to knock your taste buds proverbial socks off after your initial reaction.

Have you ever seen a soup recipe that includes something like three carrots, one stalk of celery, and a garlic clove? Amateur hour my friends, amateur hour. I fully believe that the purpose of soup is to warm your body and soul, create the ultimate feeling of coziness, and shove so many vegetables into one pot that you think it shouldn’t be possible. And garlic? Oh, friends, I laugh at one clove of garlic. I grow garlic each and every year on my microfarm and I consider it one of the most essential ingredients in my kitchen. If you want to take your chances with the vampires with your one clove of garlic, then by all means.

The night I made this soup for the first time, I was prepared for the whining from my eight-year-old Jack. My (almost) two-year-old is my soup buddy, so I knew he would be fine with it. My non-picky husband rarely gets excited about soup night (unless it is Chicken Gnocchi Soup) and calls soup “garbage water”. And yet, they all loved this soup. LOVED it. Jack declared it delicious, my husband had two bowls, and the toddler plowed through it like I knew he would. That’s my boy!

lentil soup in a white bowl with a tan background

You can make this lentil soup in your Instant Pot, slow cooker, or stove top. You can make it vegan, vegetarian, or omnivarian (<—- let’s call that a thing). It’s versatile and delicious. The special ingredient I alluded to earlier? It’s pesto! I had some homemade pesto in the freezer from this summer, but any store-bought pesto will work like a boss.

Healthy, full of veg, hearty, and oh so tasty. This lentil soup is now your new favorite meal.


Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

lentil soup
5 from 6 votes
Instant Pot Lentil Soup (or Slow-Cooker)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins

Instant Pot Lentil Soup - the perfect 12-minute meal that is big on flavor when you're short on time. A special ingredient takes this soup to the next level.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 6
Calories: 288 kcal
Author: Sarah
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 7 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
  • 1 1/3 cup dried brown lentils
  • 6 cups broth (chicken or veggie)
  • 1 cup chopped ham leave out to make veg or vegan
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika increase to 1.5 tsp if you're not using ham
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp prepared pesto
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instant Pot Instructions
  1. Set the Instant Pot to Saute. Let it pre-heat for 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and the carrots, celery, and onion. Stir for two minutes. Add garlic, and stir for another minute. Add all the other ingredients and stir.

  2. Place the lid on and switch it to the lock position. Switch the vent to "sealing".  Press Soup and adjust the time to 12 minutes. It will take around 10 minutes to get up to pressure.

  3. Once the time is up, allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Then use a kitchen towel and flip the switch to "venting". Place the towel over the vent and allow it to depressurize fully. It took 13 minutes total for me.

Slow Cooker Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Stove Top Instructions
  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine olive oil, carrots, celery, and onions. Cook down for 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on medium until lentils are soft (about 30 minutes).

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Lentil Soup (or Slow-Cooker)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 288
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Instant Pot Lentil Soup - the perfect 12-minute meal that is big on flavor when you're short on time. A special ingredient takes this soup to the next level.

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22 comments on “Instant Pot Lentil Soup (or Slow Cooker)”

  1. I have red lentils, are they interchangeable?

    • I love red lentil and often use them for soup, but they are quite different from brown lentils. Red lentils fall apart when you cook them whereas brown lentils hold there shape and have a firmer texture.

    • Louisa is right; the red lentils will mush up quite a bit and fall apart.

  2. Yum! I am going to have to try this soon! I love lentil soups and particularly like anything with smoked paprika added!

  3. Sarah, do the lentils go in dry or do I need to soak them before loading everything into the slow cooker? Still no IP for me ?.

  4. Wow, another delicious soup recipe. Thank you! I always thought I didn’t like lentils but every time I make a recipe I come across, I like them. Made this as posted and it is super good!!
    For post ideas, could you do one on Instant Pot and why you like it or why I need one? I borrowed one and made this soup (amazing) and quinoa yesterday. I like it well enough but not sure I “need” it. One more thing to take up space or best thing ever?

  5. Would green lentils work for this? I am only finding red and green at the moment.

    • You should be totally fine! Both green and brown lentils hold their shape well in soups and stews. If you’re using the Instant Pot it won’t be an issue. If making it on the stovetop you’ll likely need to cook them a bit longer than brown lentils.

  6. Never have made lentil soup, but worth trying out!

  7. Delicious. Have made this several times!

  8. I was going to make this in the Instant Pot but it turns out mine wasn’t big enough so I switched to the stove – no biggie. It turned out amazing – so much flavor. Will definitely be making again.

  9. Made this with red lentils last wee…  freaking tasty enough that I’m making it again today. Perfect food for the end of a ski day. I have to admit we are adding on more ham this time (just cuz I’m a sucker for the stuff)

  10. Omg this was delicious. Made without meat and have never cooked lentils before but am trying to eat less processed foods. Packed it in our lunches during the week. Wow. Smoked paprika and the pesto-genius! I might have to make another batch today!

    • Hollie, I’m so glad you liked it! It’s fun to find meals that help us eat towards our goals, and I’m honored to know I had a little part of it. Smoked paprika is the business!