Vegan Lentil Soup (Instant Pot Lentil Soup)

This healthy Vegan Lentil Soup Recipe can be made in the Instant Pot or on the stove top. Made with black beluga lentils, loads of vegetables, and plenty of kale or spinach, it’s the best way to fill up on a cold night.

two bowls of vegan lentil soup with buttered biscuits and a wooden bowl of parsley

In our home, we have soup for dinner pretty much every Sunday evening in the colder months. It’s a routine that works well for us because a) we always know what’s for dinner on a Sunday, and b) soup freezes like a boss, so we only actually have to make soup every few weeks.

Except lately I’ve been making soups 2-3 times a week because I’m testing a lot of old recipes in my Instant Pot, and now I’ve got a soup situation on my hands. If you live in my neck of the woods I will likely try and pawn some soup off on you. You’ve been warned. (Related: 10 Vegetarian Instant Pot Recipes)

While you can make pretty much any soup in the Instant Pot, it’ll turn out fine but basically the same (and in more or less the same amount of time) as if you made it on the stove top. There’s one area in which the electric pressure cooker particularly excels, however, and that’s in the legume department. Turns out that Instant Pot lentils, much like Instant Pot beans, are a dream come true.

You have those kind of dreams, too, right?

This Vegan Lentil Soup is a recipe I used to make all the time, and I’m so glad I finally got around to re-testing it. If you’re looking for an easy lentil soup without a lot of bells and whistles, this is the one.

kale, canned tomatoes, beluga lentils, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, spices

What goes into Vegan Lentil Soup?

  • Lentils –> We’re using black beluga lentils in this recipe.
  • Onions and garlic –> The aromatics squad.
  • Carrots and celery –> Flavah flave!
  • Canned diced tomatoes –> Mmmhmm.
  • Kale –> But you’ve got options in the greens department.

Not only did the lentils come out tender and perfectly cooked after a brief stint under pressure, but the kale was melt-in-your-mouth tender, which in a soup like this one, is a very good thing.

My husband hates kale. I mean, hates it. I don’t know if he noticed that there’s an actual butt-load* of kale in this soup, but if he did he didn’t say anything about it. He was too busy shovelling this delicious vegan lentil soup into his face and exclaiming how good it was.

*Someone recently asked me how I quantify a butt-load. I use the metric system, so I use grams, naturally.

vegan lentil soup being made in the instant pot

How do you make Instant Pot Lentil Soup?

No Instant Pot? No problem! I’ve included conventional stove-top instructions below as well.

This is one of those glorious dump-and-set Instant Pot recipes. Basically, you chuck in all of the ingredients, seal it, and set it to high pressure on the manual setting for 10 minutes. It’ll take 15-ish minutes to come up to pressure.

Once the pressure cooking cycle is done, let the pressure release naturally for five minutes, and then flip the valve to “venting” and quick-release the rest of the steam.

Give yourself a high five, because your vegan lentil soup is done!

collage photo of vegan lentil soup in the instant pot

How do you make Vegan Lentil Soup on the stovetop?

I like to do this in a big heavy-bottomed pot on the stove top.

Start by sautéing your onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Add the carrots and celery, and sauté a few minutes more until the vegetables have softened.

Add the tomatoes, lentils, chili flakes, vegetable broth, and shredded kale. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender – this will probably take 20-30 minutes.

Done!

two bowls of vegan lentil soup on a grey background

What are black beluga lentils?

Lentils that come from whales, of course.

Kidding! Beluga lentils are the darkest and smallest member of the brown lentil family. They’re called beluga lentils because they resemble beluga caviar, but you can just call them black lentils if that weirds you out.

Pro tips / recipe notes:

  • I can’t find beluga lentils. No worries! You can substitute another small, firm lentil such as French green lentils. I don’t recommend using red lentils here as they split and turn to mush while cooking, and while delicious in recipes like red lentil dal or other soup recipes, it’s not what we’re going for here.
  • I don’t have / don’t like kale. Feel free to substitute a different green here! If you’re using a more tender green such as spinach, please add it at the end of cooking regardless of whether or not you’re using a pressure cooker. Spinach and Swiss chard are both great options.
  • Can I freeze this vegan lentil soup? You bet you can! I repurpose empty cottage cheese containers for this. Frozen lentil soup will last about 3 months.

a bowl of vegan lentil soup topped with parsley

Hey Nutrition Lady, are lentils healthy?

Lentils are a small but mighty, my friends.

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.

overhead photo of a bowl of vegan lentil soup

Other Vegan Instant Pot Recipes you might enjoy:

Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup with Red Lentils
Mung Bean and Coconut Curry
Instant Pot Carrot Soup with Tahini and Garlicky Greens
Indonesian Black Rice Pudding

a bowl of vegan lentil soup topped with parsley
4.5 from 2 votes
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Vegan Lentil Soup

This healthy Vegan Lentil Soup Recipe can be made in the Instant Pot or on the stove top. Made with black beluga lentils, loads of vegetables, and plenty of kale or spinach, it's the best way to fill up on a cold night. 

Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword instant pot lentil soup, vegan lentil soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 279 kcal
Author Katie Trant

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 large stalks celery diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups beluga lentils checked over for stones and rinsed well
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes including juices
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale de-stemmed and sliced into ribbons
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine garlic, onions, celery, carrots, spices, lentils, kale, and vegetable broth in the instant pot. 

  2. Seal the lid and set to manual on high pressure for 10 minutes. At the end of the pressure cooking cycle allow the steam to vent naturally for 5 minutes, then flip the vent to quick release the rest of the way.

STOVE TOP INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, then the onion. 

  2. Sauté the onion until it is starting to become golden, then add the garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes more until the garlic begins to brown as well. 

  3. Add the celery and carrots, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly softened. 

  4. Now add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the vegetable broth, the lentils, and the kale. 

  5. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes.  

  6. Taste and decide whether you need a bit of salt and pepper, and season as you like. Let the soup meld together for a few minutes more, then you're ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

  • Nutrition values are an estimate only
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Lentil Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 279 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 5%
Sodium 1539mg 64%
Potassium 365mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 46g 15%
Dietary Fiber 15g 60%
Sugars 7g
Protein 17g 34%
Vitamin A 85.2%
Vitamin C 25.2%
Calcium 9.9%
Iron 35.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This recipe was originally published January 23, 2013. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated February 12, 2019.

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Comments

  1. Jess says

    January 23, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Soup on Sundays?! Love that – I think we need to institute that around here too. This is a very welcome dinner idea for me this week – after a few days of attending events and eating out this week, I am so ready to curl up at home with something healthy and comforting.

    • themuffinmyth says

      January 24, 2013 at 3:31 am

      It’s a great routine. We make soups for 3 or so weeks in a row, always stashing a bit away in the freezer. Then on busy weeks we have soup to pull from the freezer and dinner is easy.

  2. kellie@foodtoglow says

    January 23, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Love to hear that your man has treated you so well over your birthday week. More thought and effort than a bought present. Of course I’m nosey as to what he made but you can keep that a mystery. I put together a very similar soup occasionally, but I add lemon (I put it in most things whether needed or not!) & kale, as that grows year- round here in Scotland. I have some kale in the garden even now. Lentil based soups satisfy a vegan or vegetarian soup like no other, especially the more toothsome Puy lentils. Yours looks very inviting with its little pile of brown rice 🙂 PS I haven’t seen the smoked garlic again but when I do I’ll buy you a pack.

    • themuffinmyth says

      January 24, 2013 at 3:30 am

      It was a nice dinner from one of our favourite Indian cookbooks. A chickpea cucumber salad thing, then spicy breaded tofu (recipe is for fish, but I don’t eat fish) in a yoghurt curry. So yummy. And yes, more effort than going out for dinner or buying something 🙂

  3. Kathryn says

    January 24, 2013 at 6:02 am

    What a perfect & thoughtful weekend – all the more so for being a week early and therefore being that much more of a surprise for you. He’s a definite catch.

    This is one of my favourite soups to make (especially with a good dose of red pepper flakes & chilli) and I love the idea of using fresh ingredients in the summer.

  4. Leanne says

    January 24, 2013 at 10:42 am

    What a thoughtful pre-birthday surprise! Glad y’all got to slow down and enjoy each other. I’m in a lentil soup rut, and this looks like a great way to un-stick and try something new. I’ll have to make a batch this weekend, perfect for our cold weather. (Well, cold to us.)

    • themuffinmyth says

      January 24, 2013 at 11:19 am

      It is definitely a great cold weather soup, whatever cold weather means to you. It’s all relative, right? This morning on the walk from the train to my class I was telling a colleague that I didn’t think there was really much difference between -10 and -18 (which is how cold it was). And then about a minute later I could feel the cold in my sinuses from breathing it in, and recanted my statement. Soup for all!

  5. Louise says

    February 17, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    I made this soup last night using the stovetop instructions and it was DELICIOUS!!!! My family loved it! I used French green lentils, as that is what I had on hand, and they maintained their shape and texture beautifully. This was my first time cooking with Lacinato kale; it was not tough at all and added some nice color to the dish. Next time I will try using the beluga lentils. Thank you, Katie, for another great recipe! 🙂

  6. Claire says

    February 18, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    I made this over the weekend in my Instant Pot (it’s pretty new to me, so I’ve been looking for opportunities to use it). In case people are curious, I found the start to finish warm up+cook at pressure+cool down and release time to be about 45 minutes. You could naturally release for a longer time if you wish; I don’t think there would be any negative impact. I used 6 oz of pre-chopped curly kale instead of a bunch, which I found to be the perfect amount and it softened up fine (even the stems, which I chopped and threw in too). I used french green lentils instead of beluga and they worked beautifully. I’ve never used them before, so it was exciting to try something new! They held their shape perfectly. I’m excited to get my hands on some beluga lentils and try again. Overall I thought the recipe could use some seasoning beyond the red pepper flakes. I added another 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes and some smoked paprika at the end. Next time I’ll add some Italian seasoning and up the red pepper flakes at the start. I also think I’ll add about 2 cups more liquid as this came out very thick. I loved how veggie packed it was and appreciated it being a set it and forget it recipe!

    • Katie Trant says

      February 18, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      Mmmmm, smoked paprika sounds fantastic! I think in most cases French green lentils and beluga lentils can be used more or less interchangeably, but it’s always fun to try something new!

  7. Michele says

    June 14, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    I am planning to make this recipe but I’m wondering what you garnished the soup with? It looks delish and I would like to serve the soup with it as well! Thanks

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