This lentil soup recipe is warming, hearty, and full of plant-based protein. I've listed two cooking methods for you: Instant Pot pressure cooking and stove top method. Any leftovers make a great lunch. Garnish to your heart's content.
Why I Bought an Instant Pot
Creating fast and healthy recipes for clients as a personal chef and private chef was easier with pressure cooking. When the Instant Pot launched and gathered a cult-like following I kind of shrugged it off. I thought, I already have several pressure cookers so why get another one? I
finally bought one (the 6 quart) and quickly discovered I love it! Why? Because its electric and is a multi-function tool that replaces several you may already have. Freeing up kitchen space is a good thing.
Stove top pressure cookers have to be baby sat. The Instant Pot does not. For some recipes you add all ingredients, lock on the lid, set your timing and walk away. Some recipes need a little sautéing first.
How to Make Lentil Soup
Saute your veggies, add the rest of the ingredients, lock on the lid, set the timer and in no time you'll have soup. For stove top, simmer until the lentils are tender to the bite.
After chopping all of the vegetables, start with a few minutes on the sauté setting. Next add the rest of the ingredients, lock on the lid and select the pressure cook for 15 minutes. When cooking is complete, allow it to cool down for 15 minutes, then release the rest of the pressure. Alternatively let the pressure drop naturally which takes approximately 30 minutes. I've done it both ways.
Stove Top Lentil Soup
No Instant Pot? No problem. You can still make this on the stove top. Saute the veggies in a heavy pot like a Dutch oven. Add the herbs and tomato paste, then the broth and French green lentils. Bring almost to a boil, turn to low, add a lid and simmer until the lentils are tender to the bite.
Let's Talk Broth Options
- To make lentil soup vegan, use vegetable broth. Homemade is best and so easy to make, plus you can freeze a batch in portions.
- Chicken broth is a little richer than vegetable broth. If you have an Instant Pot, homemade chicken broth takes about 2 hours. Any extra freezes great.
- If you want to make long-simmered chicken bone broth, here is my recipe for a dark golden homemade chicken broth.
- Two other options: homemade roasted turkey broth or beef broth.
Lentil and Herb Notes
Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein. Just ¼ cup (dried) provides 14 grams of protein and 18 grams of fiber. They are delicious, nutritious and easy to cook. I recommend French green lentils because they hold up well in soups and stews.
Herbs de Provence is a lovely blend of dried herbs commonly used in French cooking. It's often a blend of oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, and sometimes lavender, savory or marjoram. It's one of my favorite dried herb blends. Try it, mix up your own blend, or use an Italian blend.
For another hearty vegetable soup, try this hearty favorite Ribollita Tuscan Vegetable Bean Soup.
- 6 quart Instant Pot
- OR 5 quart Dutch oven or large pot
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onion 1 large
- 1 ½ cups chopped carrot 3 large
- 1 ½ cups chopped celery 3 large ribs
- 1 cup chopped fennel 1 medium, bulb only
- 3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried Herbs de Provence or Italian blend
- 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
- 5 cups low sodium broth chicken or vegetable
- 1 ½ cups French green lentils
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Instant Pot Method
- Select "sauté" to pre-heat the Instant Pot. When the word "hot" appears on the display, add the olive oil, onion, carrot, celery, and fennel. Set the timer for 7 minutes and stir occasionally. Towards the end of the sauté cycle, stir in the garlic, dried herbs and tomato paste.
- Stir in the broth, lentils, salt and pepper, place the lid on and turn to lock. Turn the steam release handle on top of the lid closed. Select "pressure cook" and set the timer using the [+] button for 15 minutes. When the Instant Pot completes the warm up and cooking cycle it will beep. Use the natural release method for 15 minutes, then quick release remaining pressure by pressing "cancel" and turning the steam release handle on top of the lid to the "venting" position.
- If you are not in a hurry, leave the Instant Pot to come down all of the way naturally. Unlock, stir and serve. Leftovers keep well for up to four days and freeze well.
Stove Top Method
- Sauté all of the vegetables in oil until tender in a large pot. Add the garlic, dried herbs and tomato paste, stir and cook 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring just to a boil, turn heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer on low until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Taste and if the lentils are not tender enough simmer for a few additional minutes.