Spicy Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup is a healthy and nourishing vegan meal. Ready in just 22 minutes at high pressure, this soup brings the heat with red pepper flakes and is super satisfying thanks to brown rice.
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I'm a big believer in having an arsenal of back-pocket recipes that can be made with just a handful of pantry staples.
This Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup is beyond simple, and it's so satisfying. It's actually one of the oldest recipes on this site (originally posted in 2011!) and one of the first recipes I ever tried making in my Instant Pot. I'm ashamed that it's taken me this long update and share with y'all!
Dried lentils, brown rice, and vegetable broth are ingredients that I pretty much always have on hand, and they last for ages in your cupboard as well. Add in some aromatics and a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat, and you've got one satisfying and nourishing red lentil soup recipe.
Pair this recipe with an Air Fryer Grilled Cheese and you've got one of my all time favourite quick and easy dinners. If you're looking for a veggie-loaded lentil soup, give this Easy Lentil Soup Recipe a try instead!
(Related: 12 Nourishing Vegetarian Meal You Can Make From Pantry Staples)
Just 22 minutes on high pressure in your Instant Pot, or a little bit longer for a stovetop soup. Enjoy it in its glorious simplicity, or throw in some greens if you please. Either way, you're going to love this red lentil soup recipe.
The ingredients list is short and sweet, my friends. Here's what you'll need:
- Red lentils --> The stars of the show.
- Brown rice --> Adding some heft.
- Olive oil --> Going in with some EVOO.
- Onion --> One big yellow guy.
- Garlic --> The flavour crew.
- Red pepper flakes --> Bringing the heat.
- Vegetable broth --> Or feel free to use water.
I make this recipe in my Instant Pot, and it turns out beautifully every time.
If you don't have an Instant Pot, you can make it in a large heavy-bottomed pot instead. I love my Le Creuset Dutch Oven for making soups.
Whether you're making this soup in the Instant Pot or on the stove top, it starts with caramelizing your onions. You want to take your time with them, and make sure you cook 'em low and slow to build in that deep flavour.
Once the onions are partly brown, add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and continue cooking for a a few minutes more.
Then, add the red lentils, brown rice, and vegetable broth.
If you're making this recipe stove top, all you need to do is simmer until the rice is fully cooked.
If you're making this recipe in the Instant Pot, seal the lid and set to 22 minutes at high pressure. Once the pressure cooking cycle is complete let it vent naturally for five minutes, and then quick release the remaining pressure.
Pro tips / recipe notes:
Like all red lentil soups, this one tends to thicken considerably as it cools. If the soup seems too thin when you first make it, have faith that it will become much thicker with a bit of time.
How to Freeze Soup
Your Red Lentil Soup will last about three days in the fridge. Like most soups, this one freezes brilliantly.
To freeze, simply transfer cooled soup into freezer-proof containers and ensure there's enough head space for the soup to expand as it freezes. I often re-use yogurt containers for freezing my soup, but I also love these reusable silicon freezer bags.
You can also freeze soup in Mason jars, but you need to be really sure to leave enough space for expansion so the jars don't break in the freezer.
To re-heat soup I most often use my microwave.
If the soup is frozen, I'll drop the frozen block of soup into a pot and heat on low heat, covered, on the stove top until the soup has melted and warmed up.
Since red lentil soup thickens so much as it cools, you may want to add a splash of broth or water to thin it out as you re-heat your soup.
Are lentils healthy?
Um yes, yes they are.
These lovely little legumes are a very good source of dietary fiber. The soluble fiber in lentils helps to keep blood sugar stable, while providing a steady source of energy. It also helps to sweep out your lower intestine, and helps keep you regular! Dietary fiber also works to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Lentils are a rich source of iron, and a good source of plant-based protein, which is good news for veg heads. They’re also a great source of heart-healthy folate and magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, zinc, potassium, and B6.
Other recipes you may enjoy:
Mung Bean Soup
Vegetarian Dumpling Soup
Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup
Instant Pot Lentil Soup
Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup with Red Lentils
Miso Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Instant Pot Vegan Chili
Instant Pot Borscht
Instant Pot Brown Rice Risotto
20 Vegetarian Instant Pot Recipes
Spicy Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ cups red lentils rinsed well
- ½ cup short grain brown rice
- 8 cups vegetable broth or water
- salt to taste
Instant Pot Instructions
- Using the sauté setting, heat the olive oil.2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Add the diced onion, and sauté, stirring frequently, until onion starts to brown.1 large yellow onion
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté for a few minutes more, until the onion is deeply browned.2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Cancel the sauté function.
- Add the rinsed red lentils, brown rice, and vegetable broth.1 ½ cups red lentils, ½ cup short grain brown rice, 8 cups vegetable broth
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot, and seal. Ensure the valve is set to "sealing"
- Set the Instant Pot to Manual / High Pressure for 22 minutes.
- When the pressure cooking cycle is complete, let vent naturally for 5 minutes. Then, flip the valve to "venting" and release the remaining pressure.
- Stir the soup, and season with salt and pepper.salt to taste
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent.1 large yellow onion, 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes, and cook for another few minutes until the onions begin to get a nice deep brown colour.2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Now add the lentils, rice, and the broth.1 ½ cups red lentils, ½ cup short grain brown rice, 8 cups vegetable broth
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and cover the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have blown apart and the rice is cooked.
- Taste and season with salt if needed. If you prefer a thinner soup (bear in mind the soup will thicken slightly as it cools) you can add more vegetable broth or water at this point.salt to taste
- Serve bowls of hot soup.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
This recipe was first posted November 30, 2011. It has been re-tested, edited, and updated to include new photos and Instant Pot instructions, and was re-published on January 28, 2022.
Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks
What's an Instant Pot? Is it a pressure cooker? Apparently lentils contain lectins which are very bad for us - soaking them over 24 hours and rinsing them then cooking them in a pressure cooker nukes the lectins.
Yes, an Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker. All plant foods contain lectins, and raw legumes (lentils and beans) contain very high amounts. All you need to do is cook 'em and you're good to go. There's also very little research about the effects of lectins (long term or otherwise) on humans, but a whole lot of fear mongering. Some good, balanced information in this article from the Harvard School of Public Health: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/lectins/
Thanks Katie - I've been watching Dr Steve Grundy on U tube (he is big on lectins) he also recommends using a pressure cooker + soaking them - would you have a list of food with / without lectins this is a new one for me and I'm now doubting everything I eat....
Foods with lectins = all plants. That's all vegetables, all beans, legumes, etc. Basically all the most nutritious foods. Don't pay too much attention to what he's saying - it's fear mongering for profit.
This is so delicious, it disappears quickly and I never get leftovers. I saw one poster said they doubled it. But, is this possible in an Instant Pot?
I haven't tried doubling it in my instant pot so can't say for sure, but I think it depends on the size of your pot! If a double batch would be below the fill line, then go for it!
That was delicious. It was so simple to prepare, I doubled up so there would be plenty to freeze (and am glad I did!).
I like things spicy, so used heaped tsps of chilli flakes, and 3 fresh chillies for good measure. The children said it smelled delicious, so I'm going to have to make a non-spicy batch for them now too.
Thanks again for the recipes. I love things like this that are simple and quick to put together for midweek dinners. Please keep them coming 🙂
Hi again! My twin bro' and I found this very tasty today — I popped in 1tsp of curry paste to boost the depth of flavour a tad. It is certainly pretty satiating stuff, neither of us wanted much supper after downing two bowls each at lunchtime. We are trialling the soup, combined with morning porridge, as part of a slow-release carbs-cum-low fat diet for 2 weeks. Normally, we find red lentils pretty explosive but here, surprisingly, not so much.
Whoops! 'NEITHER of us', not 'EITHER of us', of course! Please correct my text, Katie, as I can't see an edit option...
I love the way you wrote out the instructions on the recipe card at the end of your post. The instructions for each step with the ingredients in gray is so helpful.
Glad you like it! I know how annoying it is to scroll back and forth to find the ingredients on mobile, so I've been writing them out by hand for a while but just discovered this handy feature in the recipe card. I'll be using it from now on!
Fast and satisfying. Really liked the bit of chew the rice added. Did the full tsp of pepper flakes and both kiddos gobbled it down =D Would love to try with IP instructions (please!;).
Oh wow, you went DEEP into the archives. This soup is on my list of recipes to update and republish, and I have in fact tested it in the IP once before so that will for sure be happening.