This Vegetable Lentil Soup Recipe is ready in under 30 minutes, and is very easy to make! The best part is you can use any vegetables that you like and have on hand. Whether you want to keep it vegetarian or add some chicken, beef, or seafood, this quick soup is full of flavor and hearty enough to serve as the main course.
There are so many variations of Lentil Soup that you can make and it's a perfect way to use up vegetables that you have in the fridge. It's amazing how a few simple ingredients can result is such a delicious soup.
Remember, the best lentil soup is made with your favorite ingredients! Get creative and make a hearty soup you and your whole family will love!
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you don't have to soak them, but you certainly can, if you prefer. You do want to rinse them before using and remove any tiny stones or debris that you see.
Lentils come in different colors and the three most common are green, red, and brown lentils. While you can use any kind of lentils in this soup, I recommend using brown or green, if you want the lentil to keep its shape. Red lentils tend to become softer and kind of dissolve into the soup, which is great if you want a smoother, thicker base to your soup. Dry lentils come in a bag in your grocery store where the dried beans are, so they should be easy to find.
Yes, you can freeze Vegetable Lentil Soup. Just make sure you refrigerate it overnight so you know it is completely cold. This will help prevent any ice crystals. Refrigerating it also will allow it to thicken, and it's much easier to package in vacuum sealed bags or an airtight container when it's thick.
Ingredients & Substitutions
I used brown lentils in this soup and they are very easy to find at most grocery stores. You can also use green lentils or even red lentils. However, if you use red lentils they will become softer and your soup will be thicker. If you don't like lentils or can't find them, then I would try using brown rice to mimic the nutty flavor of the tender lentils.
Brown rice does take longer to cook then lentils, so you will want to increase the initial pressure cook time to 15 minutes. I would use ½-¾ cup of brown rice and also increase the liquid by an extra cup. If you have leftover already-cooked rice and want to add it in, then add it at the end of the second pressure cooking time.
If you want to make a keto friendly vegetable soup and skip the lentils, you absolutely can! Simply leave them out and add in more vegetables. If you wanted to add raw meat (which I'll will address in greater detail later in this section) instead of the lentils, then decrease your liquid to 2-3 cups, because the meat will also give off liquid as it cooks.
I used a simple blend of onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and spinach in this veggie soup recipe, but you can add pretty much anything you want! You will want to add the various vegetables at different times depending on how fast they cook. Here are a few suggestions for vegetables that would be great in this hearty lentil soup.
Potatoes: If you wanted to add white potatoes to the soup, you can cut them in large chunks and add them during the first 5-minute pressure cook OR cut them into a smaller dice and add them during the second 1-minute pressure cook.
Sweet Potatoes or Butternut Squash: Either of these vegetables would be a great addition to the soup, and I would cut them in about 1"-2" chunks and add them in before the 5-minute pressure cook time.
Broccoli: Broccoli is a fairly quick cooking vegetable, especially under pressure; so, if you want to add it to your soup, I would cut the florets very small and add it AFTER pressure cooking and simply simmer the lentil soup until the broccoli is cooked to your desired texture.
Bell Peppers: You can add bell pepper at any time during the cooking process depending on the purpose for their use. If you want them strictly for flavor, then add them in at the beginning; however, if you want them to retain some texture you would want to add them in either before the 1-minute PC time or after and use sear/sauté to finish cooking them.
Hearty Greens: For veggies like collard greens, kale, cabbage, or other longer cooking greens, I would add them in at the beginning of pressure cooking.
Green Beans: If you wanted to add in fresh green beans, I would cut them into bite size pieces and add them before the 1-minute pressure cook time. Frozen green beans are blanched already, so you could thaw them and add them after pressure cooking or keep them frozen and add them in before the 1-minute PC time.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms do great under pressure, and can handle long pressure cook times, so add them in before pressure cooking. You can use any type of mushrooms you like.
Onions: I used a red onion in this recipe, but you can use a yellow onion, a sweet onion, or a combination of onions.
Tomatoes: I used fire roasted tomatoes (they aren't spicy) in the soup because I love the added flavor they give, but you can use regular diced tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, or skip the tomatoes. If you want the tomato flavor without any chunks, use some tomato paste. You can either stir this in at the end or put it on top of the soup before the second pressure cook time of 1 minute.
This is by no means an extensive list of the fresh veggies you can use. Use whatever you love and have on hand, and if it is a really quick cooking vegetable, like spinach, add it in after the pressure cooking time and you can use the residual heat from the vegetable lentil soup to wilt and cook the lettuce.
If it's a long cooking vegetable, like beets (which would be great in this soup, but it would turn the soup a purple color), then you would want to add those in before the first pressure cooking time. If it's going to cook quicker, but still can handle being pressure cooked ( carrots, celery, onion, garlic), add them in before the 1 minute pressure cook time.
Another thing to note is the purpose of the vegetable because the purpose of it can also change when you add it in. For example, I split my carrots, onions, celery and added some in the beginning and some before the 1-minute pressure cook time. This is because I was using them for two different purposes. The vegetables added in the beginning were cut into small pieces to develop flavor and help create the vegetable stock that would be the base of the soup. The vegetables added after the 5-minute pressure cook were my soup vegetables, and I wanted to keep their texture.
Seasonings & Broth
I created the vegetable broth from water, seasonings, and sautéing veggies; however, you can absolutely use store-bought vegetable broth or, if you aren't making a vegetarian or vegan lentil soup, then add in chicken stock or chicken broth in place of the water. You may want to add ½-¾ of the seasoning blend at the beginning because the broth will also have some salt and sometimes other seasonings.
The seasonings I used were fine grind sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasonings. I would say that the flavor of this soup is sort of like a minestrone soup without the pasta. You can also add in a bay leaf, which I would ordinarily do, but I guess I forgot.
You can also change the flavor and make it spicy by adding in red pepper flakes or add in some curry powder to make a lentil curry soup. Add in some smoked paprika if you want the soup to have a little smokey flavor.
I also used a lot of garlic. 7 garlic cloves to be exact! I kept them whole so that the flavor was a mild garlic flavor, if you wanted a more pungent garlic taste to the lentil soup, you can mince the garlic and sauté it in the beginning with the lentils and other vegetables.
Meat & Seafood
Like I said earlier, you can absolutely add chicken, beef, or seafood to this recipe. If you are adding in already-cooked chicken, beef or seafood, add it at the end and just warm it through with sear/sauté.
For raw chicken or beef, cut into bite size pieces and season with either the same seasoning blend or simple salt and pepper. Sear the meat in olive oil and, when it's browned on all sides, add in the lentils and the beans and continue on with the recipe.
For quick cooking seafood, like salmon, shrimp or scallops, I would add them in after the second PC time and use sear/sauté to cook them. This way you have complete control over how they cook and you won't overcook the seafood.
You can absolutely add in pasta in place of the lentils or with them. Just remember that pasta will also absorb liquid, so you will want to increase the liquid amount according the amount of pasta you are adding.
For larger pasta shapes, like penne, rigatoni, or farfalle, I would add the pasta in before the first pressure cook.
For smaller pasta shapes, like orzo or ditalini, add them in before the 1-minute pressure cook or at the end and use sear/sauté to cook the pasta for complete control over how it cooks.
How to Make Vegetable Lentil Soup without a Pressure Cooker
Pressure Cooking certainly does make it a lot quicker to make the Vegetable Lentil Soup, but you absolutely can make it in a slow cooker or on the stove!
Vegetable Lentil Soup Stove Top Directions
Rinse your lentils and remove any stones or debris. Prep your vegetables. Measure out your spices.
In a large soup pot, add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil or your oil of choice. Heat over high heat and add in half of the onion diced, 1 carrot diced into small pieces, and 1 celery stalk diced into small pieces. Add in the whole garlic cloves, lentils, and seasonings. Sauté for 5 minutes while constantly stirring. Reduce your heat if needed.
Add in 6 cups of water (2 more than when pressure cooking because you will have more evaporation) and the fire roasted tomatoes. Scrape along the bottom of the pot to remove any brown bits (fond) from sautéing.
Reduce the heat until the pot is at a simmer and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients, except for the spinach, and continue to simmer until the lentils are soft and the vegetables are cooked the way you like them, probably another 10 minutes or so.
Stir in the spinach until it is wilted. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.
Serve & Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Vegetable Lentil Soup
Rinse and remove any stones or debris from the lentils. Prep your vegetables and measure out your spices.
If your slow cooker allows you to sauté the vegetables before slow cooking, you can do this all in one pot. If not, then use a sauté pan on the stove to sauté the vegetables and garlic in oil for about 5 minutes before adding to the slow cooker.
Add the sautéed veggies, lentils, remaining soup vegetables (except the spinach), seasonings, fire roasted tomatoes, and 5-6 cups of water to your slow cooker. Stir well.
Slow Cook on high for about 3 hours or on low for about 5 hours. The soup is done when the lentils and vegetables are your desired texture. Stir in the spinach and give it time to wilt.
Serve & Enjoy
How to Make Pressure Cooker Vegetable Lentil Soup
Dice ½ onion (I used a red onion) into ¼-½" dice. Dice 1 carrot and 1 celery stalk into ½" dice. These will be used for your soup base and are mostly for flavor.
Smash & peel 6 garlic cloves.
Rinse and remove any stones or debris from your lentils.
Cut the remaining ½ onion into bite size pieces. You can make these as small or as large as you want.
Slice 2 small carrots and 2 stalks of celery into bite size pieces. These are your soup vegetables and can be as big or as little as you want.
Slice or quarter the mushrooms.
Measure out your seasonings and water.
Turn the sear/sauté function of your pressure cooker on high and allow the pot to heat up for about 2 minutes. Add about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil (or your oil of choice) to the inner pot of your pressure cooker and let it heat up.
Add in the diced onions, carrots, and celery (only the ones being used for the soup base). Add in the garlic cloves.
Give everything a good stir and add in the lentils and the seasonings. Stirring almost constantly, sauté everything for about 5 minutes.
First Pressure Cook
Deglaze the inner pot with 4 cups of water and scrape the bottom to make sure nothing is stuck on. Add in the fire roasted tomatoes.
Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Set the time for 5 minutes on high pressure.
When the time is up, do an immediate release by turning the valve to vent. When the pin drops, open the lid.
Second Pressure Cook
Add in the mushrooms, remaining onions, celery, and carrots. Stir to combine. Put the pressure lid on, turn the valve to seal and set the time to 1 minute on high pressure.
When the 1-minute PC time is up, immediately release the pressure and, when the pin drops, open the pressure lid.
Add in the spinach and stir, try to get all the spinach under the surface of the soup so it wilts. I also like to add in some celery leaves from the center of the celery, but this is optional.
Taste the soup for seasonings and adjust as needed. Serve & Enjoy!
More Soup Recipes
I love using my Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker to make all kinds of delicious soup recipes, here are some of my favorites!
- Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
- Greek Meatball Soup ~ Pressure Cooker or Stovetop Recipe
- Pressure Cooker Taco Soup ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
- Cheeseburger Soup (Ninja Foodi or Stovetop)
- Homemade Hot & Sour Soup
- New England Clam Chowder ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
- Ninja Foodi Potato Soup (Pressure Cooker Recipe)
- Pressure Cooker Vegetable Soup ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
Vegetable Lentil Soup
- Instant Pot
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ red onion diced into ¼" dice
- 1 small carrot diced into ¼-½" dice
- 1 stalk celery diced into ¼-½" dice
- 6 cloves garlic smashed & peeled
- ¾ cup brown lentils
- 2 teaspoons fine grind sea salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cups water
- 14.5 ounces fire roasted tomatoes with juice
- 8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms sliced or quartered
- 2 small carrots cut any way you like for soup
- 2 stalks celery sliced any way you like for soup
- ½ red onion diced or cut any way you like for soup
- 4 cups spinach
- Rinse and remove any stones or debris from the lentils. Prep the vegetables for the soup base.
- Turn the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot on high sear/sauté. Add in olive oil and when it is hot, add in the soup base onions, carrots, and celery. Stir to combine. Add in the smashed and peeled garlic cloves and the lentils. Add in the seasonings and stir. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pot with 4 cups of water and stir well. Add in the tomatoes with the juice and stir. Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure on high for 5 minutes. When the time is up, immediately release the pressure and when the pin drops, open the lid.
- Add in the mushrooms and the rest of the soup vegetables EXCEPT for the spinach. Stir and put the pressure lid back on and turn the valve to seal. Pressure cook on high for 1 minute. When the time is up do an immediate release. When the pin drops, open the lid.
- Add the spinach and stir it into the soup to wilt. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.
- Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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Just made this on a rather chilly Nordic evening and it was Dee (wait for it) Licious.
Just what I needed!
And may I just say that your smile lights up my TV screen!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
Easy and absolutely delicious ❤️
This soup was delicious. I should say is, because right at this moment, I am eating leftovers. I sub spinach for collard greens; carrots for orange bell peppers. I never knew how simple it is to make your own broth from vegetables! Thank you for your detailed and helpful instructions.
I made this last night, and it turned out delicious! I added chicken (at the very beginning of cooking), and broccoli and zucchini (at the very end), and it turned out really good. So much flavor and totally tastes like a Minestrone.
Did you use 4 cups of liquid or did you add more liquid since you added more vegetables and meat? I'm going to add some baby potatoes, uncut, so I'm thinking about adding 1 more cup of liquid since the potatoes will absorb some of the liquid.
Yes, you definitely want to add some extra liquid with the potatoes.
I'm so glad you enjoyed it!