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, this Instant Pot Lentil Soup is the best way to fill up on a cold night.
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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. (Related: Vegetarian Freezer Meals)
Except lately I've been 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: 20 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.
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.
What goes into this 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.
If you want to make Instant Pot Lentil soup, you're going to need an Instant Pot! I have this 6-Quart Model, and I find that it's a perfect size for my family.
If you're going to make this soup on the stovetop, I love using a big heavy-bottomed pot like my Le Creuset Dutch Oven.
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!
How do you make your 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.
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 this Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup, 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 soup? You bet you can! Frozen lentil soup will last about 3 months, and is easily re-heated both on the stovetop or in the microwave.
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.
Other 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
Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup
Spicy Instant Pot Chickpeas
Vegan Lentil Soup
- 1 tablespoon 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 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon 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
INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS
- Combine garlic, onions, celery, carrots, spices, lentils, kale, and vegetable broth in the instant pot.
- 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
- Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, then the onion.
- 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.
- Add the celery and carrots, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly softened.
- Now add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the vegetable broth, the lentils, and the kale.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
- 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.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
This recipe was originally published January 23, 2013. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated February 12, 2019. Last updated February 18, 2021.