Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup

Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup |

I met a new coworker a few weeks ago – her name is Jelena. She’s in charge of making sure that I don’t screw up, so you’d think that we wouldn’t be friends. But just a few minutes into our first conversation, I realized that it is just the opposite. Imagine the personality of a typical auditor, and then reverse it, and that’s Jelena. Ok, it’s not that simple, but the basic gist is that she’s hilarious and I’m only scared of her a little bit. Plus, she makes homemade rye bread and she brought me a loaf last week AND a starter so I can make my own. SCORE!

Of course, with bread, you must have soup. So here is my go-to lentil soup, made quick and easy in the pressure cooker.

Beth, I don’t have a pressure cooker. Those things are terrifying. My grandma used to scare the pants off of us every time she used one.

Don’t worry. While I’m going to try my darndest to convince you that a pressure cooker is an Appliance You Need, I’ll give stovetop instructions too. Do you feel better now? Good. Let’s move on. This soup is ridiculously easy and only requires a few ingredients.

Personally, I find lentils beautiful. Don’t you?

Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup |

Red lentils break down and give the soup body, while the brown/green lentils stay intact, giving credibility to the fact that this is, indeed, lentil soup. Onions and garlic add flavor, while carrots, potatoes, and rainbow chard bulk it up and add extra nutrition. You can also add celery, but I didn’t have any. Not that Michael minded.

Oh, and spices. Let us not forget the terrific trio of salt, cumin, and smoked paprika. Smoked paprika needs to be in your life if it isn’t already. I don’t mean to tell you what to do, but seriously, go get some and then come back and thank me.

Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup |

Here is where it gets really exciting. This lentil soup cooks in 3 minutes. Say what? Ok, so technically it takes longer than 3 minutes because first you have to bring the pressure cooker “up to pressure”, or the point at which it does its magic, but once that happens, the Actual Cooking Time  is 3 MINUTES. No joke. From cutting board to ladle in bowl, you can have lentil soup in 20 minutes. Of course, Michael is laughing right now because it took me at least an hour to make this soup, but that’s because I was taking photographs the whole time. You’re welcome.

I’m not going to get all technical on you and tell you all about how pressure cookers work. Because you would get bored, and because I don’t really know. I just know that they cook stuff quickly, and oftentimes better than with other methods, and I like that. A lot. I like it so much that I have two pressure cookers. One is a stovetop model, and it’s the one I cut my teeth on, so to speak. The other is my absolute new favorite appliance, and I got it for my birthday. (Thanks, M & D!) It is called the Instant Pot. Not only is it an electric pressure cooker, but it is also a rice cooker, steamer, slow cooker, stockpot, and YOGURT MAKER (the latest version). It also makes great julienned fries! Just kidding. I’ll share more about this wonder appliance in a later post, but just for fun I’ve included a picture so you can see how much functionality it has and how non-scary it looks

. Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup |

See? Totally safe. And clearly labeled. Ok, so the cooking part is about as simple as it gets. Saute, seal, and cook for 3 minutes. Easy peasy. Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup |

With pressure cookers, you have two options. Quick release and natural release. Quick release means you open a vent in the PC that lets steam out gradually until the pressure is released. Natural release means that the cooker cools on its own and the pressure comes down after a bit of a wait. With this soup, I don’t recommend a natural release because the soup will continue to cook while the pressure is released.  And this will invariably mean mushy soup. No good. So, if you do make this in a pressure cooker, use the quick release method. Again, more about pressure cooking basics in an upcoming post, but this is an important detail for this soup.

Once the pressure cooker is safe to open, well, open it! Stir in the rainbow chard – the heat of the soup will immediately wilt the greens. Serve with bread, of course.

Oh, and in case you wondering, a dollop of sour cream took this soup over the top. And now to go make more.

Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup |

Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Warm, comforting lentil soup can be in your belly in just 20 minutes start to finish using a pressure cooker.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6
  • 1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 cup green/brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1½ t. smoked paprika
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 carrots, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (optional)
  • 1 lb. waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold or Red Bliss (I used a blend that included purple potatoes)
  • 1 bunch Rainbow Chard or similar greens (such as spinach), chopped
  • 8 cups water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Pressure Cooker Instructions
  1. Heat pressure cooker on medium heat, or set to Saute function if using an electric model, such as an Instant Pot.
  2. Saute onions, garlic, spices, carrots, celery, and potatoes for 3-5 minutes, or until onions begin to soften.
  3. Stir in the lentils to combine.
  4. Add water to cover.
  5. Lock the lid into place and bring to high pressure. Once at pressure, reduce heat to maintain pressure and cook for 3 minutes. If using an electric model, the pressure will be maintained automatically.
  6. Use the quick release method to release the pressure until it is safe to unlock the lid.
  7. Stir in the chard, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
Stovetop Instructions
  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions, garlic, spices, carrots, celery, and potatoes over for 3-5 minutes, until the onions have softened.
  2. Stir in the lentils and water.
  3. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the chard.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


  1. Hannah Elizabeth says

    This sounds so good, Beth, and like just the perfect thing for a drippy, dreary day (ha…like today…in JUNE??!)!!

    Funny, pressure cookers never scared me, although being a pan-conservationist-Nazi (just ask my family), I always wondered how the upsides of a pressure cooker could *possibly* outweigh the extra cleanup. After watching you use yours and seeing what a life-saver it is, I am beginning to realize how it earns its place in the kitchen.

    • says

      Thanks, Hannah! Here in the Pacific Northwest we have no shortage of soup days, do we? :) Fine by me! In my opinion, the extra cleanup for a pressure cooker is nominal, especially for the functionality it offers. Maybe one day you’ll give it a hard-earned space in your kitchen! :)

  2. says

    You just planned my dinner. Thank you!

    I may be finally leaning towards a pressure cooker now that I see there is one that can replace my ailing crock pot with additional functions and not take more space in my kitchen. I can’t stand a million kitchen appliances. Every now and then I seriously consider getting rid of it all and going back to basics. Now if only this Instant Pot made popcorn, waffles, stir fry, food processed things, microwaved food, blended food, made juice and perhaps did julienne fries. Then we’d really be talking. Also, no wonder I have no room in my kitchen! 😉

    I love the pic of all the colorful lentils, potatoes and veggies. Mmmmm, gorgeous.

    • says

      No problem! I’ll talk to the Instant Pot people about adding some new functions. Hey, maybe your yogurt will be done in time to go on the soup! 😉

    • Hannah Elizabeth says

      I like your idea of the pressure cooker for crockpot swap, Erin! Also, I will whole-heartedly support the Instant Pot movement…I like it!! 😛

  3. Christine says

    Thank you for starting your blog. Now that I have an Instant Pot, I am on the hunt for new recipes!! If you are looking for a new tasty recipe and something to do with leftover soup, take 6 cups of your lentil soup, 1 C of cornmeal, and 1 C veggie broth and mix it together. Put in a loaf pan and bake at 350 for an hour or until knife comes out clean. It is amazing with lentil soup and, even better, with pea soup.

  4. says

    This soup was delicious, especially on a rainy cold June day like today. I made the stove-top version and mixed in a spoonful of Real Deal Sour Cream. Everyone in the family loved it and had 2nd and 3rds. Served with a big loaf of whole wheat sourdough, yummy. :)

  5. Steph S. says

    Made this today and it was great! Had much more flavor than I expected! Subbed in sweet potatoes and kale. Only had green lentils so doubled it. Three minutes in my 1970s stovetop pressure cooker was perfect! We will be making this often!

    • says

      I’m so glad to hear it, Steph! This made my day. I love the sub of sweet potatoes and kale, yum! Also super excited that you’re rocking the 1970’s pressure cooker. :)

    • says

      Hi Erin! In my recipe formatting, I use T. for tablespoons and t. for teaspoons. I hope that helps! Feel free to bump up the spices to your taste preference. The smoked paprika is worth it! :)

  6. says

    Really nice to find not only an Instant Pot recipe that is so very yummy, but also a vegan oil free one! Thank you! My wife and I were really impressed with the flavor and will have it again!

  7. Elizabeth says

    Hi Beth. Tried out this recipe with a little Nigerian twist, more chilling, some fresh tomatoes, green peppers. Didn’t use the potatoes and red lentils though. We really don’t have lentils here, its black eyed peas (beans) we eat mostly. It’s so tasty. Yeah, with a pressure cooker!

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