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Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup

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Although it is technically March and spring, the weather hasn’t cooperated. In fact, snow flurries were melting on the ground this morning. Unreal. Cooler temps automatically mean soup to me. My hubs, while not a soup lover, has come around and now enjoys an occasional soup for dinner. A large amount of bread with plenty of butter helps to really sell the meal. 😉 And while soup may not be his favorite, this instant pot red lentil soup has become a family dinner favorite.

instant pot red lentil soup

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Red Lentils, not a Southern Staple

Lentils were not served in my home when I was growing up. And though we lived various places around the world in between stints in North Carolina and Florida, I don’t ever recall eating lentils. They’re part of the legume family, and while they weren’t common for me, they are a popular food item around the world. Lentils are high in protein (third only to soybeans and hemp), are inexpensive, and can be stored for long periods of time. I love that I can feed my entire family a delicious pot of soup that is both good for them and not expensive. Because I’m noticing the older kids get, the more they eat. Red Lentil Soup is a welcome meal for its ability to feed the entire family (and then some).

Are Red Lentils orange?

Although they are called red lentils, their appearance is actually orange. But orange lentils doesn’t have the same ring… And lentils do come in many varieties, including green, brown, and even black. And while I’ve only used red lentils in this recipe, I would consider substituting green if that’s all I had on hand. red lentils

Do I need an Instant Pot for Lentil Soup?

Absolutely not. The original version of this recipe was cooked on a stove top, and this one certainly can too. The Instant Pot just makes things easier in our busy household. I can get this lentil soup going in the IP and walk away. Cooking any soup on the stove doesn’t always give me that flexibility. I have come to love the Instant Pot, and that’s pretty obvious from my other IP recipes: Instant Pot Pear Sauce, IP Cranberry Sauce, IP Pumpkin Puree… I think you get the point. 🙂 So, an Instant Pot certainly is NOT a must for this recipe. 

Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup Recipe

This recipe was passed to me from a friend who served it at a soup pot luck one evening. It was delicious, and even though there were meat-filled soups there as well, this lentil soup was a favorite. The original recipe was cooked in a dutch oven on the stove, and didn’t have quite the amount of seasoning I preferred. But luckily, we can all adjust recipes to our tastes and moods. (The more cumin the better!) Here’s what you’ll need for the recipe:

2 Tbsp butter, unsalted (or olive oil for vegan/vegetarian option)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt (or more to taste)

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp chili powder

2 quarts chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegan/vegetarian option)

1 3/4 cups red lentils (dry, unsoaked)

2 large carrots, diced

1 lemon, juiced

Cilantro (for garnish/topping)

How to Make Lentil Soup

  1. Select “Saute” function on Instant Pot and chop onion while the pot warms. Melt butter in the heating Instant Pot and add onions. Cook 3-4 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Mince garlic and add to translucent onions. Stir until fragrant.
  3. Add in tomato paste and spices. Stir to mix and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Turn off Saute function on IP and add in broth, lentils, and diced carrot. Stir to combine ingredients.
  5. Seal Instant Pot and be sure the nozzle at the top is set to “sealed.” Choose the “manual” function and set the timer for 15 minutes. Walk away. Ha!
  6. Once the Instant Pot is finished, use the quick release to let out the pressure. (You can also opt to wait for the pressure to release naturally.) For a creamier soup, use a stick blender to blend some of the lentils and carrots. This is optional.
  7. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot. Start with only half of the lemon and taste. If you like more tang in your soup, use the other half of the lemon as well. Serve into bowls. Top with cilantro (and you can add a dollop of plain greek yogurt for extra protein.)

Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup

red lentil soup white bowl

This quick and easy Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup is a nutritious and inexpensive meal especially for those cooler months.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 quarts chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 3/4 cups red lentils
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch cilantro for topping

Instructions

    1. Select "Saute" function on Instant Pot and chop onion while the pot warms. Melt butter in the heating Instant Pot and add onions. Cook 3-4 minutes, until translucent. Mince garlic and add to translucent onions. Stir until fragrant.
    2. Add in tomato paste and spices. Stir to mix and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off Saute function on IP and add in broth, lentils, and diced carrot. Stir to combine ingredients.
    3. Seal Instant Pot and be sure the nozzle at the top is set to "sealed." Choose the "manual" function and set the timer for 15 minutes. Once the Instant Pot is finished, use the quick release to let out the pressure. (You can also opt to wait for the pressure to release naturally.) For a creamier soup, use a stick blender to blend some of the lentils and carrots. This is optional. 
    4. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot. Start with only half of the lemon and taste. If you like more tang in your soup, use the other half of the lemon as well. Serve into bowls. Top with cilantro (and you can add a dollop of plain greek yogurt for extra protein.)

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 170Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 1928mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 9g

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