Instant Pot Vegan Golden Lentil & Spinach Soup + My Honest Thoughts About the Instant Pot Hype
Well, we bought an Instant Pot (finally!) a few weeks ago, and as my friend Laurie says, there’s a definite learning curve. While I am growing to really like this herkin’ new appliance that we have exactly zero counter space for, I have to say it is not the most intuitive to operate. Either that, or I’m really dumb. (I suppose it’s a bit of both).
I’ve finally figured out how to both saute and use the manual feature. I’m not sure what the difference is between the manual feature and all the other buttons on there; I tried some of them without much luck. I have figured out that “On” means it’s warming up and then a number on the screen means it’s actually starting to cook and it’s counting down the minutes left. And then the next number on the screen, which apparently says “LO” and then has two numbers on the right, shows it is done cooking and is now on low heat to keep the food warm. The number then counts back up.
I’ve also come to terms with the fact that “instant” it is not. Yes, actual cooking time for some items like dried legumes is faster – but sometimes you also have to account for sauteeing (right in the pot, which is nifty), and then there’s the warm-up time, which is usually about 10 minutes, plus you need to add the depressurizing time AFTER it cooks if you’re making a recipe that needs it. My guy and I have decided that the “Instant Pot” should actually be called the “Hands-Off Pot,” because while it may not be the fastest ever, it is definitely zero-maintenance once the lid goes on.
Hard-boiled eggs? All they’re cracked up to be, for sure – the peel, indeed, comes clean off with hardly any effort. Rice cooks up like a champ – a little bit faster than stovetop (yay!) and pretty perfect. Steel cut oats in the Instant Pot are the bomb. I love how creamy they come out, and I don’t have to keep stirring them. So, bonus! And then we have this Instant Pot Vegan Golden Lentil & Spinach Soup (hint: so good).
Here’s where the Instant Pot really shines, because while it’s not necessarily intuitive (for me) – or truly instant, for that matter – it does take whole, healthy ingredients and squeeze the most flavor it can out of them. This soup cooks for a mere 12 minutes (not including warm-up time), but it tastes like it simmered all day. Basically, I LOVE THIS SOUP. And, once you know your way around the Instant Pot, it really is super easy to whip up.
I call it “golden” because it sports the current it-food, turmeric, which gives it sort of a golden glow. This really is a vibrant lentil soup both looks-wise and taste-wise – it packs a ton of flavor and nutrition and it’s about the coziest dinner around.
So my take on the Instant Pot? Overall, it’s a yes. Get one, but keep your expectations in check and know there’s a bit of a learning curve. And then make some of this lentil soup.
Instant Pot Golden Lentil & Spinach Soup
A thick and hearty lentil soup packed full of flavor. Made specifically for the it-appliance of the moment, The Instant Pot!
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium stalk celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper+ more to taste
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed well in cold water
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 8 ounces (about 6 cups) baby spinach
- Hit “Saute” button on Instant Pot. Add oil. When hot, add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
- Add the lentils and pour in the broth. Stir.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the release valve is in the “sealing” position. Press the “Manual” button and set the timer at 12 minutes.
- The Instant Pot will warm up for about 10 minutes and then start cooking. After the 12 minutes is up, quick-release by flipping the release valve to “venting” (a little bit at a time at first).
- Once venting is complete, remove the lid of the Instant Pot. Stir in the spinach. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve.
- Keeps in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Freezes well too!