The best Instant Pot lentil soup in the world – if I do say so myself

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Yesssssssssss people, it is finally in the 70s here in my ‘hood today! Brrr! Time to make a nice hot batch of Instant Pot lentil soup!

The weather is finally cooling down here in Scottsdale, and when that happens, those of us who have been here for a while tend to go overboard. 70 degrees is sweater and soup weather, right? It sure feels like it compared to nearly 100 degrees a month ago.

One of my favorite things about the Instant Pot is that it makes savory things like soups, stews, sauces and roasts taste like they’ve been simmering on your grandmother’s stove all Sunday afternoon, but it takes a fraction of the time. In fact, between prep work like chopping, waiting for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, cook time and natural pressure release time, you have a soup that tastes like it’s been simmering all day in less than an hour!

What soup, do you ask? Only the world’s best lentil soup, or as my husband calls it, “The best soup I’ve ever had in my life.” Let’s go with the assumption that he has eaten a lot of soup in his life and take that as a huge endorsement!

I have loved lentil soup since I was a kid, and it’s kind of a strange thing for a kid to like, right? My dad’s lentil soup recipe was amazing, and I’d often eat two bowls in a sitting. But his was definitely the simmer all day kind of soup. I have so much going on with school runs, the kids’ activities, writing assignments and this blog, running errands and taking care of our new puppy (did I mention we have a new puppy? I am certifiable, for real) I have neither the time nor the inclination to watch the stove all day. Basically, it’s Instant Pot or no soup for me.

The flavors in this soup meld together beautifully. You can adjust the seasonings as you see fit – I tend to eyeball the garlic, for example, rather than getting super accurate with a measuring spoon.

This lentil soup recipe is easily adapted to be vegan. Simply replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth and omit the ham.

This looks really beautiful served with some fresh parsley sprinkled on top, but if you forgot to buy fresh like I always do, dried is fine and adds a nice little extra something to the taste.

As far as ingredients go, you’ll notice in the photo that I have a lot of Costco’s Kirkland brand items, like the garlic, broth and olive oil. The only time I buy these items at the regular grocery store is if I’m really in a pinch. I absolutely love the quality of these Costco items and highly recommend them. I’m working on transitioning most of my spices to Penzy’s, but am not there yet!

This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover holiday ham, but I usually just use the little package of Smithfield cubed ham.

lentil soup ingredients

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely minced
2 cups chopped carrots, about 1/2 inch each
4 stalks celery, diced
1 TBSP dried thyme (or 6 sprigs fresh, tied together)
1 TSP Kosher salt
3/4 TSP paprika
1/2 TSP ground black pepper
2 cups dried lentils
2 heaping TBSP minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz) OR 1 can crushed tomatoes (15 oz)
2 cups fresh spinach, washed
1 cup cooked ham, cubed
4 cups chicken broth, plus 2-4 cups extra
Chopped fresh or dried parsley for garnish

1. Heat up the oil with the Instant Pot set on sautée. Add the onion and cook down until soft and turning golden.
2. Add the celery, carrots, thyme, salt, pepper, and paprika. Sautée until the celery and carrots are barely soft, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the lentils and garlic, stirring to coat everything with the spies. Sautée for about 45 seconds until the garlic just becomes fragrant.
4. Add the diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes, broth, spinach and cubed ham. Stir well.
5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and close it. Make sure the steam release valve is closed. Set the Instant Pot on Manual for 15 minutes.
6. When the 15 minutes is up, allow the pot to do a natural pressure release (NPR) for at least 15 minutes. DO NOT QUICK RELEASE SOUP. If you quick release this, at best your kitchen will be covered in soup, and at worst you’ll probably have a pretty bad burn. Always NPR soup.
7. Once the pressure is released, open the lid. Your lentil soup will look more like a very thick stew. To thin it out a bit, add additional broth until it reaches your preferred consistency. As you’re stirring it, it should heat up almost immediately.
8. Serve garnished with parsley.

Servings: 9
Meal type: soup, main, dinner, lunch
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