Zesty Instant Pot Lentil Soup

January 18, 2020 (Updated: January 26, 2020) By Aneesha |

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This Zesty Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe is a one-pot dish made in only 30 minutes. Hearty lentils cook up in a flash in the pressure cooker, with Mediterranean herbs and a few Middle Eastern spices that give this soup it’s bright and vibrant flavor.

instant pot lentil soup in gray bowl on blue plate with pita on the side

A Healthy Instant Pot Lentil Soup Recipe

I don’t know about you, but I particularly adore lentils. They’re earthy, packed with plant-protein and come in a variety of colors to suit any flavor profile.

As an added bonus, lentils are highly beneficial, especially for heart health, since these small little legumes offer a good source of fiber, folic acid and potassium. They add vitamins, minerals and protein, which provides sustenance to any meal.

And when prepared in an Instant Pot with a few Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, this takes the power of lentils to new heights!

lentil soup in bowl of instant pot

All About Lentils and How To Cook Them in Instant Pot

Before we get to the lentil soup recipe, it’s best to learn the technique behind making the best lentils possible.

Do You Have To Soak Lentils Before Cooking Them

Contrary to popular belief, and unlike beans, you do not have to soak lentils before cooking them. All they require is a gentle rinse under cold running water and a quick sift through to rid of any rocks or broken pieces.

Which Lentils Have The Most Protein

Since the basic structure and make-up of each variety of lentil is different, the amount of protein varies from color to color. A one-half cup serving of each lentil provides the following:

  • Black Lentils: 26g protein, 18g fiber, 100mg calcium, 8mg iron, 960mg potassium
  • Red/Yellow Lentils: 22g protein, 10g fiber, 40mg calcium, 6mg iron, 600mg potassium
  • Brown Lentils: 24g protein, 26g fiber, 80mg calcium, 4mg iron
  • Green/Puy (French) Lentils: 24g protein, 10g fiber, 80mg calcium, 4mg iron
instant pot lentil soup in gray bowl with lemon slices and pita

Cook Time Variations For Lentils in the Instant Pot

Here is a general breakdown of the cook times required for each variety of lentils:

  • Green Lentils: 10 minutes
  • Brown Lentils: 12 minutes
  • Red Lentils: 8 minutes

How Do You Know When Lentils Are Cooked

The texture of lentils should be similar to pasta when cooked – soft with a bit of bite in the center.

However, your desired texture also depends on the end result. If you’re eating them on their own or in a salad, you want the lentils more firm. If eating them in soup, as is our case today, you want the lentils soft and tender.

Can You Overcook Lentils

When you cook lentils on the stovetop at a rapid simmer, the lentils will split and just become mush. To avoid this unwanted texture, cook the lentils over a gentle heat or like this green lentil soup recipe, in the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot provides an adequate amount of pressure to cook the lentils to just the right texture. Just make sure to follow the cooking time of your lentil variety.

instant pot lentil soup in gray bowl with lemon slices and pita

Are Undercooked Lentils Dangerous

Undercooked lentils are not necessarily dangerous, but not as nourishing.

Lentils, just like all pulses, contain phytic acid, which holds on to minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron. When undercooked, the phytic acid renders these minerals unavailable to the body for absorption.

Even more so, undercooked lentils are difficult to digest and may cause digestive upset.

Note to self – always cook your lentils until no longer crunchy in the center.

Ingredients for Instant Pot Lentil Soup

cilantro, lemon, spices in white bowl, lentils, chopped vegetables in bowl, olive oil

A few simple pantry ingredients, along with the extra flair of a few Middle Eastern and Mediterranean spices will have you slurping lentil soup in no time. These ingredients include:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Either Extra Virgin or regular olive oil will do. Use whatever you already have in the pantry.
  • Lentils: Green, red or brown lentils each provide their own unique flavor and texture. Use whichever is your favorite and adjust the cooking time based on the notes above.
  • Aromatic Vegetables: Onions, carrots and celery (known as mirepoix in the culinary world) are the base of any homemade soup recipe. A few cloves of garlic round out all the flavors.
  • Liquid: This could either be water or vegetable broth. If the vegetable broth is your liquid of choice, make sure to purchase a low-sodium brand. Homemade vegetable stock is even better!
  • Herbs and Spices: This is where the zesty part comes in! You will need:
    • Salt
    • Ground Cumin
    • Ground Coriander
    • Paprika
    • Red Pepper Flakes
    • Sumac
    • Dried Mint Flakes (or Fresh Mint)
    • Agave Syrup (or Sugar)
  • Garnish: A squeeze of fresh lemon juice + fresh chopped parsley
  • Greens: This is optional, but a few cups of baby spinach or kale stirred in at the very end adds nutrition and nourishment for a complete meal.

What is Sumac?

Now, if you are not familiar with Middle Eastern cooking, you have probably never heard of sumac.

Sumac (also know as sumach, sumak, soumak or sumaq) is a bright red flowering plant in the genus Rhus and related genera, in the family Anacardiaceae. It is grown in sub-tropical regions, so think East Asia, Africa and North America.

And it’s really having its moment for chefs and home cooks, alike. Known for its tart, piney-citrusy, lightly astringent flavor and bright red color, it adds an unexpected pop to any dish. Look for it in specialty spice markets or online.

If you can’t find sumac, simply substitute it with 1 teaspoon lemon zest to get that kick of flavor. Although, sumac is certainly worth seeking out.

How To Make Lentil Soup in Instant Pot

This easy lentil soup does require a bit of chopping, but once you have the ingredients prepped, it’s basically hands-off with the help of an Instant Pot, or any electric pressure cooker like the Mealthy Multipot.

  • Prep: Rinse lentils and keep aside. Chop onion, carrot and celery, and crush garlic.
sauteing vegetables in instant pot, bowl of spices in white bowl, pouring liquid in instant pot, hand sealing instant pot
  • Turn on Saute function at HIGH. When the display reads ‘hot’, add olive oil and chopped onions, celery and carrots. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until translucent. (pic 1)
  • Add crushed garlic, salt and spices, and saute another minute. (pic 2)
  • Add lentils, water (or broth), and give it a stir. (Add 4 cups water if making it for later ) (pic 3)
  • Turn off saute and close the lid. Pressure cook for 10 minutes on high pressure, or the appropriate amount of time for your lentil variety. (pic 4)
hand sealing instant pot, lemon juicer being squeezed over lentil soup, lentil soup in instant pot, lentil soup in red spoon
  • After cooking time is done, wait 5 minutes, then release the pressure manually by turning the steam valve to ‘venting’ position on Duo, or push it down if using Ultra. (pic 5)
  • Open the lid after pin drops. Add salt, if necessary and add fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley. Serve warm with toasted Pita bread or as-is. (pic 6-8)
instant pot lentil soup recipe in gray bowl with lemon slices and spoon

How To Serve Zesty Mediterranean Lentil Soup

My girls and I love this lentil soup with toasted pita brushed with olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.

But it’s hearty and comforting enough on its own, all you really need is a bowl and a spoon!

Recipe Tips For Instant Pot Lentil Soup:

  • The cooking times vary depending on the type of lentil you use.
    • Green Lentils: 10 minutes
    • Brown Lentils: 12 minutes
    • Red Lentils: 8 minutes
  • If preparing the soup in advance, use 4 cups vegetable stock or liquid as the lentils will absorb some of the liquid as it sits.
  • To substitute sumac, use 1 teaspoon lemon zest for the closest resemblance in flavor.
  • After pressure cooking, add the fresh spinach or baby kale leaves. The residual heat will gently wilt the greens and lock in their beautiful color.
  • Even though this easy lentil soup is naturally vegan and gluten-free, feel free to make it a complete meal by adding 1/4 cup quinoa to pot when you add the lentils and pressure cook as directed.

More Lentil Recipes From My Kitchen

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below! For more quick & easy recipes, FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram,  Pinterest and Youtube.


instant pot lentil soup in gray bowl on blue plate with pita on the side

Zesty Instant Pot Lentil Soup

A Zesty Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe that is both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired offers a hearty and comforting one-pot meal.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
NPR: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 194kcal
Author: Aneesha

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or regular olive oil
  • 1 cup green lentils rinsed. See notes for other lentil alternatives
  • 1 cup onion chopped, about 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup carrots chopped, about 2 medium carrot
  • 1 cup celery chopped, about 2 ribs
  • 2 tsp garlic crushed, about 2-4 cloves, or 2 frozen cubes
  • 3 cups water or low sodium veg broth, ( add 4 cups if making for later)

Spices & Seasoning

Garnish

  • 1 tsp lemon juice fresh
  • 2 tbsp parsley fresh, chopped

Optional Adds (add after pressure cooking)

  • 6 oz baby spinach or baby kale leaves see 'notes' for instructions

Instructions

  • Prep: Rinse lentils and keep aside. Chop onion, carrot and celery, and crush garlic.
  • Turn on Saute function at HIGH. When the display reads 'hot' add olive oil and chopped onions, celery and carrots. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until they get translucent.
  • Add crushed garlic, salt and spices, and saute another minute. This brings out the aromatics in the spices.
  • Add lentils, water (or broth), and give it a stir. Add 4 cups water if making it for later.
  • Turn off saute and close the lid. Pressure cook for 10 minutes on high pressure. Check cook times for other lentils in 'notes'.
  • After cooking time is done, wait 5 minutes then release pressure manually by turning the steam valve to ‘venting’ position on Duo, or push it down if using Ultra.
  • Open lid after pin drops. Check for seasoning, and add fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley. Serve warm with toasted Pita bread or as-is.

Video

Notes

Recipe Tips for Instant Pot Lentil Soup:
  • The cooking times vary depending on the type of lentil you use.
    • Green Lentils: 10 minutes
    • Brown Lentils: 12 minutes
    • Red Lentils: 8 minutes
  • If preparing the soup in advance, use 4 cups vegetable stock or liquid as the lentils will absorb some of the liquid as it sits.
  • To substitute sumac, use 1 teaspoon lemon zest for the closest resemblance in flavor.
  • After pressure cooking, add the fresh spinach or baby kale leaves. The residual heat will gently wilt the greens and lock in their beautiful color.
  • Even though this easy lentil soup is naturally vegan and gluten-free, feel free to make it a complete meal by adding 1/4 cup quinoa to pot when you add the lentils and pressure cook as directed.
If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates and do not include pita bread.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 544mg | Potassium: 740mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 7992IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Keyword: Green Lentil Soup, Instant Pot Lentil Soup, Lentil Soup Recipe, Mediterranean Lentil Soup
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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