Instant Pot Golden Lentil & Spinach Soup
I shared this Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe nearly two years ago, and it’s been one of my top-most-visited (and top-rated!) recipes ever since. Instant Pot Lentil Soup is the perfect thing to make in your electric pressure cooker – it really is super easy and with that intense cooking environment, the flavors are seriously amped up.
If you received an Instant Pot from Santa, read on for the honest thoughts I was having about mine after I got my own a couple of years ago (along with a handful of tips and tricks). And then break out the lentils, spices, and spinach because this Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe will be the perfect thing to make first! Add some crusty bread – and a green salad if you like – and you’ve got a seriously comforting wintertime meal.
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. (I share all about how to make hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot here).
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 lentil soup with turmeric and spinach and goodness and light (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 Instant Pot lentil 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.
More Instant Pot Lentil Soup Recipes
- Instant Pot Vegan Herbed French Lentil Soup – Loaded with herbs (tarragon, parsley, and thyme) with a squeeze of lemon at the end. Thick, hearty and satisfying!
- Instant Pot Curried Carrot Red Lentil Soup – Another ★★★★★ five-star rated recipe! Split red lentils, carrots, ginger, and curry. This one’s super fast – and full of flavor.
- Instant Pot Lentil Vegetable Soup. A back-to-basics, hearty, yet full-of-flavor lentil soup with green lentils, carrots, celery, and thyme. Delicious!
FAQs about this Instant Pot Lentil Soup Recipe
Q: I tried making it and when I went to open the instant pot the lentils absorbs all of the liquid! I don’t know why that happened!
A: Did the Instant Pot seal? I’ve had this happen. I’ve forgotten to make sure my handle is in the “seal” position, or I’ve needed to clean the sealing ring, lid area, float valve, and anti-block shield. Usually one of those things is the culprit.
Q: What size Instant Pot are you using?
A: I am using a 6-quart Instant Pot.
Q: How would you edit this recipe for a 3-quart Instant Pot?
A: I have not tried the recipe in a 3-quart, but as long as you don’t double the recipe, everything should be the same.
Q: Can I double this recipe?
A: I have tried doubling this recipe and while it cooks up just fine, the flavor isn’t quite as nice. I’m honestly not quite sure why that is, but I’m determined to figure it out!
Q: Can I use other lentils other than brown lentils?
A: Yes! But be prepared to alter your cooking time and know the outcome may be different than what you see in photos. French green lentils would up the time to about 20 minutes. Split red lentils would take more like 8 minutes but they will dissolve as red lentil do.
Q: Can I freeze this lentil soup?
A: Yes, it freezes beautifully! However, the spinach loses its vibrant color when you freeze it. My suggestion is to freeze without the spinach then add it at the last minute when you warm it back up.
Q: Can you make this in a pot on the stove?
I haven’t tried it that way yet, but I’m sure you can – I’d say it should take about 35-40 minutes?
Q: Is it 12 minutes manual on low or high pressure?
A: High pressure.
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
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste*
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper+ more to taste
- 1 cup dry 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, 1/2 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!
Cook time includes sautéing and warm-up.
* Update 11/8/19: Based on a handful of reader comments about this soup tasting too salty, I reduced the initial salt amount from 1 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon. Please taste and adjust at the end until it’s perfect for you!
Yield: Serves 4, Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 134 Calories
- Total Fat: 3g
- Sodium: 580mg
- Carbohydrates: 17g
- Fiber: 8g
- Sugar: 4g
- Protein: 9g
Originally published January 7, 2017. Last updated December 27, 2018.
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