Instant Pot Lentil Soup

This ultra cozy Instant Pot lentil soup stars fennel, fire roasted tomatoes, and lentils: it’s an easy vegetarian meal that everyone will love!

Instant pot lentil soup

Can you make soup in an Instant Pot? Absolutely. This Instant Pot lentil soup recipe is the perfect intro to pressure cooker soups! It’s easy to make and full of nutritious ingredients. Lentils load it with plant based protein, and it’s bright red from fire roasted tomatoes. The star ingredient: fresh fennel, which adds a smoky undertone. This soup is ultra cozy and Alex and I have been enjoying a steaming bowl with a side of our best vegan cornbread. And don’t take it just from us: reader Laura told us,“My husband said this could easily go into regular rotation at our house.” Score! Let’s get started.

Instant pot lentil soup

Why make Instant Pot soup?

As we’ve shared extensively, Alex and I used to be Instant Pot haters. Then we got one…and we ended up falling in love! As people who eat mainly vegetarian and vegan recipes, we started only making basics like rice, dried beans, sweet potatoes, etc. But we’ve branched out into using our Instant Pot for vegetarian meals, like pasta (like spaghetti and creamy penne) and now soup.

Now, despite its name: the Instant Pot does not cook food in an instant. The advantage of cooking Instant Pot soup recipes is that it’s totally hands off once the cooking starts. You can throw the soup in the pot and then go do other things, until your dinner is done! Overall, this soup will take about 45 minutes to make, with the “preheat time” included.

Instant pot

How to make lentil soup in an Instant Pot

To make this Instant Pot lentil soup recipe, you’ll use the Saute mode on the Instant Pot. This is just like sauteing on the stovetop, but you’ll do it right in the pressure cooker itself. In this lentil soup, you’ll saute the fennel and onion. Why do you need to saute? Couldn’t you just throw everything into the pot? Sauteing the veggies makes them perfectly cooked and brings out their flavor in a way that pressure cooking them does not. So make sure to do this step!

By the way, if you’re not sure how to cut fennel and how to dice an onion quickly: we can help! We have some great knife skills tutorials that can help you cut them in a flash:

Saute up the onion and fennel, then add the remainder of the ingredients and pressure cook for just 10 minutes! However, we want to be clear about the overall time. Because of the amount of ingredients in the pressure cooker, it will take about 20 minutes to “preheat” or come up to pressure. Because we’re all about truth in advertising (ha!), we’ve incorporated this time into our overall time that the recipe takes to cook.

Lentil soup Instant pot

What people are saying

Because Instant Pot cooking can be a little variable, we like to test the recipes with our readers before publishing them here on A Couple Cooks. This cozy Instant Pot lentil soup went over with our real-life recipe testers! Here’s what they had to say:

  • “Made the soup last night. Timing was spot on. The soup was thicker…not quite stew, but definitely thicker than a veggie soup. It divided into 6+ hearty portions. I liked the flavor. My husband said this could easily go into regular rotation at our house!” -Laura
  • “The lentil soup turned out great! We really liked it! We think it would serve 4 to 5 people, but I guess it depends on the people (my boyfriend can eat haha!).” -Amanda

What kind of Instant Pot to use?

Alex and I use an Instant Pot brand Instant Pot (Instant Pot is the brand name; Instapot is a slang variation). The Instant Pot we use is the Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker

We’d only recommend using a 6 quart pressure cooker for this recipe. We also can’t speak to other brands and types of pressure cookers. For example, we’ve heard that the Instant Pot Mini works pretty differently than the standard size: we also wouldn’t recommend it here since the quantity is much too large.

Instant pot lentil soup

Looking for Instant Pot recipes?

Outside of this Instant Pot lentil soup recipe, here are some of our favorite Instant Pot Recipes:

This lentil soup Instant Pot recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

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Lentil soup

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (48 votes, average: 4.21 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x


This ultra cozy Instant Pot lentil soup stars fennel, fire roasted tomatoes, and lentils: it’s an easy vegetarian meal that everyone will love!



  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups brown or green lentils
  • 28 ounce diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups baby spinach (or chopped standard spinach)


  1. Dice the onion. Dice the fennel. Peel and dice the carrots. Grate the garlic and set aside to stir in once the soup is cooked.
  2. Turn on Saute mode and add the olive oil. When it is heated, add the onion and fennel and saute for 6 to 7 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots, lentils, tomatoes, broth, water, salt, paprika, and oregano. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
  3. Cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 20 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. (During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  4. Quick release: Vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Open the pressure cooker lid.
  5. Stir in the spinach and grated garlic, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Taste and season with additional salt and fresh ground pepper as necessary. Serve immediately.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

Keywords: Instant Pot Lentil Soup, Lentil Soup Instant Pot, Lentil Soup Recipe, Lentil Recipe

A few more soups…

Because we’re soup obsessed (aren’t you?), here are a few more of our favorite soup recipes:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    September 10, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    Are cooking directions different when NOT using the Instant Pot. I would like to make it the old-fashioned way – on the stove. We have loved many of your recipes!

  • Reply
    September 13, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Ya’ll, this was so delicious! So easy! So quick! I tried it today in my new insta-pot and served it with southern cornbread and a glass of cold milk. We loved it and love that it is a much healthier soup than we normally eat. Thanks for another great recipe! Oh, and by the way, I made one small change, used celery instead of fennel.

  • Reply
    September 16, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    I made this for our garden club picnic today, and among the huge amount of food brought there (50-60 or so people each bringing something,) this was something that a lot of people tried and was nearly gone. I love lentil soup and my pressure cooker and this was a great recipe. Unique is the chopped fennel, which is a veggie I love. I added some rosemary and bay leaves to this as well, wonderful flavors in this soup. Will be a keeper. Thank you

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      September 16, 2019 at 4:29 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    October 4, 2019 at 5:29 am

    I have made this soup a few times now and it is absolutely amazing. The first time I made it, I followed the directions exactly and cooked for 10 minutes and quick released. The flavor was awesome except the lentils were kind of crunchy. So before I added the spinach and garlic, I set my Instant Pot for an additional 12 minutes after which the lentils came out PERFECT! The only other change I made when cooking this soup the next time was to add only half a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, and a 14.5 oz.. can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes. I like my lentil soup a little more tomato-y. Other than those two changes, I’ve been making this soup at least once every week or two. Several of my co-workers can’t wait for when I bring them some to work. Thanks for a great recipe. BTW…I would have never thought to put fennel in lentil soup. It doesn’t alter the flavor, but it just adds that little something.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      October 4, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      I’m so glad you are enjoying the recipe! Don’t you love that fennel magic? :)

  • Reply
    January 13, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    I am new to pressure cooking. This may be a stupid question but do you pre-soak the lentils before putting them into the pressure cooker or do you put them in dry? Please help!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      January 13, 2020 at 12:17 pm

      Hi! No need to soak for this recipe!

  • Reply
    March 6, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    Hi there! Can’t wait to try this recipe. Sounds delicious. Quick question, when you select the pressure book button (step 3), are you cooking the vegetable mixture for 20 minutes as it’s preheating, and then an additional 10 minutes?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      March 6, 2020 at 2:01 pm

      You set the pressure cook time to “10 minutes”, but it will take about 20 minutes before the timer starts counting down. This will result in approx 30 minute total time before the quick release.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    My mother always talks about how she ate lentils almost every day during WWII as it was one of the cheapest foods available during a time of rations. I thought I would research and try making this recipe in particular because it included a fennel bulb. Needless to say, it came out perfect. I ended up adding a cup and a half more broth at the end. I offered some to my neighbor who never had lentil soup ever in her life…she’s 70 years old… and she asked me to make more for her it was so good. Highly recommended if you follow the recipe and don’t substitute too much, and use Green Lentils over the Brown ones which I read have issues with getting mushy.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      March 9, 2020 at 9:35 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Reply
    March 17, 2020 at 8:43 am

    This was delicious! The lentils definitely needed more than 10 minutes. I did 11 minutes and they were still hard. Restarted the pressure cooker for another 4 minutes and they were al dente. We served with grated parmesan, which really put it over the top.

  • Reply
    April 28, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    I did this with what I had on hand, which was one can fire roasted tomatoes with chile and one can regular. Also substituted leek for fennel. It came out amazing! A little spicy from the chile in the tomatoes but my husband loved the little bit of kick.

    Now I’m finding it impossible to find lentils. All I have in my pantry are red lentils. I’m afraid they will be too delicate for this soup.

    Absolutely love your recipes!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      April 28, 2020 at 9:10 pm

      So glad you enjoyed! Yes, I think the red would just fall apart.

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