Instant Pot red lentil soup is a healthy vegetarian recipe packed with protein, butternut squash, and vegetables. Using a pressure cooker takes half the time compared to a stove top recipe. Pureeing the lentils makes this soup incredibly creamy without adding any dairy.
Have you taken the plunge and are a proud owner of a shiny new Instant Pot? This red lentil soup is an easy beginner recipe to give the pressure cooker function a try. Typically it takes a long time to cook dried beans. However, preparing it using high pressure takes only 10 minutes to tenderize the legume, it’s pretty amazing.
This red lentil soup is a nutritional powerhouse because each serving has a generous amount of vegetarian protein and vegetables. Ingredients like onions, garlic, celery, bay leaf, and thyme add a wonderfully fragrant aroma to the soup. Each spoonful is made extra creamy by pureeing the lentils and butternut squash together right in the pot.
It’s quick to prepare a healthy and satisfying meal even on the weekdays!
The best part about making soup in the Instant Pot versus a slow cooker, is that the saute function allows you to brown the vegetables before pressure cooking. The pleasant aromas from the mirepoix, a classic combination of onions, carrots, and celery get a chance to soften and develop flavor right away.
If this is your first time trying red lentils, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to prepare! The miniature spherical and flat legumes have a lot of surface area, so they cook more quickly compared to other dried beans.
Red lentils have a very mild flavor with a subtle sweetness. They break down easily when cooked, losing some of their circular shape. A quick puree using an immersion hand blender makes for a super smooth and creamy soup texture.
From a nutritional standpoint, a 1/4 cup serving provides 13 grams of protein and whopping 14 grams of fiber. This soup contains 1 cup of dried lentils, making each bowl very satiating. Lentils are an excellent source of protein for the vegetarian and vegan diet.
Butternut squash is also added to the soup to not only provide nutrients like beta-carotene and fiber, but it also contains starches that release and naturally thicken the soup. This ingredient also offers a lovely sweetness to the dish.
I like to serve this Instant Pot red lentil soup topped with a little bit of greek yogurt, thinly sliced radishes, chives, and pepitas. This soup stores well in the refrigerator and freezer, so you can make a big batch and have them as individual servings whenever you need a grab and go meal.
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Use red lentils for pressure cooking soup
Red led lentils are brown lentils hulled so that the protective coating is removed, which means it cooks relatively quickly, in about 15 minutes. When cooked, these delicate pulses breakdown to create a pureed like texture. Therefore lentils are great for soups and stews where keeping the round shapes intact is not as important.
Red Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, (15ml)
- 1 cup yellow onion, (138g) 1/4 inch dice
- 1/2 cup carrots, (74g) 1/4 inch dice
- 1/2 cup celery, (74g) 1/4 inch dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic, (12g)
- 1 cup butternut squash, (113g) 1/2 inch dice
- 1 cup dried red lentils, (208g) rinsed
- 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth, (960ml) plus more as needed
- 1 bay leaf, dried
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, (6g)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot. Allow pot to heat, it will indicate "Hot" on the display when ready.
- Add olive oil to the pot, once hot add the onions. Saute until fragrant and tender, 2 minutes.
- Add carrots and celery, saute until tender, 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.
- Add butternut squash, saute for 2 minutes.
- Add lentils, vegetable stock, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and thyme. I've found that once you add the cooled stock the saute function turns off.
- Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot, turn and lock the lid.
- Press "Manual" button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 10 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons.
- It will take about 10 minutes for the pot to heat up and build up the pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
- Once cook time is complete, use the quick release method to release the steam by pressing "cancel" on the Instant Pot.
- Use an oven mitt or towel to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to "Venting" position. The initial release will spray some moisture around the pot so be careful.
- Carefully remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam will be released from the pot.
- Remove and discard bay leaf.
- Use a hand immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth, or transfer to a blender and puree. Leave some pieces of vegetables and lentils whole if desired for a chunkier soup.
- Add more stock if desired to thin the soup.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.
- Optional Toppings: Sour cream, greek yogurt, coconut milk, pumpkin seeds, chives
- 1 serving= 1 cup soup
- Stove Top Directions:
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Follow steps 2 through 5 above.
- Turn heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until lentil and vegetables are cooked through and tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Follow steps 9 through 11.
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