This versatile lentil soup is a perfect clean-out-the-fridge meal. I’ve been making it for years, throwing in whatever happens to be at the bottom of my veggie bin. A great way to use up any leftover bits of fresh herbs also. It’s WFPB-compliant (no oil!), high in protein and fiber. Throw it in the Instant Pot after work if you’re pressed for time, or set-it-and-forget-it in the slow cooker in the morning. Although I love to serve it with a slice or two of crusty bread, the soup itself is gluten-free and perfectly tasty on its own.
What You’ll Need
Onions, carrots, and celery together form the base for mirepoix, an aromatic French concoction that is renowned for the richness it brings to soups and stews. We are not making mirepoix for this recipe to save on time and cut down calories, but we are still relying on the classic trifecta of these three vegetables to create the comforting and familiar soup base.
Tip: If you are not following an oil-free diet, then I recommend sauteing the veggies first in 1 tbsp oil. Makes for a more full-flavoured experience. True mirepoix calls for a low, slow cook, but even a quick saute will bring out extra flavour.
Garlic, bay leaf, and vegetable stock adds additional boost of savoury flavour. Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base is a vegan bouillon paste which provides a quick alternative to using fresh stock.
Lentils add a double whammy of protein and fiber. Use dried green or brown lentils only. Black or red lentils cook too quickly and will soften to mush in an Instant Pot soup. (Unless of course you like mush, in which case, go ahead!)
Salt should be added to taste after cooking. If you are using Better than Bouillon, chances are it will be plenty salty enough without needing additional salt. However, if you’re using another brand of bouillon, or fresh vegetable stock, the soup could be more or less salty.
Spinach is optional but highly recommended. Adding them towards the end of cooking ensures they retain their bright green colour. Perfectly cooked spinach has a beautiful silky texture.
Fresh herbs are also optional. But if you’ve got some herbs wilting away in your fridge, why not throw ’em in! So far, I’ve tried with rosemary, dill, thyme, all of which were pretty tasty. You can also use dried herbs, but they are usually much more potent than fresh herbs so start with 1/2 tbsp and go from there.
Crusty bread, while optional, makes this lentil soup a complete meal. Nothing more satisfying than soaking up hot soup with torn pieces of freshly-baked bread! (If you’re pressed for time, try this no-yeast Irish soda bread. It comes together in just 45 minutes.)
Step 1: Chop up all your veggies. The garlic should be minced or crushed as small as possible. The other veggies (onion, carrot, potato, celery) can be diced fine or chopped into larger pieces, depending on your personal preference.
Optional: If not following an oil-free diet, then saute the onion, carrot, and celery in 1 tbsp oil until fragrant and the onions are translucent. (If you’re making this soup in the Instant Pot, you can use the Saute function on Normal mode.)
Step 2: Add all the ingredients to the cooking pot, except spinach and fresh herbs (if using).
The next few steps differ slightly, depending on whether you are using an Instant Pot or slow cooker.
Instant Pot Instructions
Step 3: After following Steps 1 and 2 above, secure the lid onto the Instant Pot.
Step 4: Use the Pressure Cook setting on High Pressure for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Allow pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure.
Step 6: Open the lid (stand off to the side to avoid catching a face full of steam). Stir in the spinach, and cover for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, if you’re using any herbs, dice them up fine.
Step 7: Once the spinach is cooked, stir in the fresh herbs and serve.
Slow Cooker Instructions
Step 3: After following Steps 1 and 2 above, put the lid on the slow cooker and leave it on High for 3 hours or Low for 6 hours.
Step 4: Remove the lid for the last 15 minutes of cooking, and stir in the spinach. Meanwhile, if you’re using any herbs, dice them up fine.
Step 5: Once the spinach is cooked, stir in the fresh herbs and serve.
Hey guys, I can’t believe it’s February already! Last month, I was settling into my co-op job and trying to get used to real “Adulthood.” Now things have fallen into a kind of routine, although I’m still figuring a lot of things out. Even though I had a lot of fun cooking last term, most importantly I learned that making food takes a lot of time. To be honest, by the end of four months, I was almost a little burned out. So my New Year’s resolution for this year is to meal prep more and spend less time in the kitchen.
When it comes to meal prep, my recipes follow three guiding principles:
- Keeps well in the fridge (and, ideally, the freezer too)
- Tasty (to curb my urges to eat out)
- Low effort
I’m very happy to report that this lentil soup is all three!
Meal Prep Options
I also try to make my recipes versatile. This one is super flexible on the vegetables. You can add in whatever you have, like tomatoes, squash, kale, mushrooms, etc. It’s great for dumping leftovers in!
The first day I brought my soup to work, I didn’t even heat it up in the microwave and just ate it cold at my desk (didn’t have access to a microwave back then, long story), and it was still tasty.
In fact, I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner that day, and had four containers left to spare.
I think you can easily prep this for a week and eat it for lunch everyday without getting tired of it, but if you need more variety in your life, it keeps well in the freezer to enjoy later. I like to let it cool down to room temperature, then pour one or two servings into a ziploc bag and lay flat in the freezer until it freezes into a space-saving flat square. To defrost, you can thaw it in the fridge for about a day.
Instant Pot Green Lentil Soup (Vegan)
- 1 small yellow onion 100 g
- 2 cloves garlic, minced 10 g
- 1/2 cup green lentils or brown lentils 100 g
- 1 carrot or potato 120 g
- 1 rib celery 70 g
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups vegetable stock 720 g; I used water + 2 tbsp Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base
- salt to taste; depending on your stock, you may not need any extra salt
- 2 cups baby spinach 60 g
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, thyme, sage *optional
- Dice the onion, carrot or potato, and celery. Finely mince or crush the garlic.
- Add all the ingredients except spinach and herbs to an Instant Pot or slow cooker.
- Slow cooker: leave on High for 3 hours or Low for 6 hours. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, stir in the spinach.
- Instant Pot: use the Pressure Cook setting on High Pressure for 10 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure. Stir in the spinach, and cover for another 10 minutes.
- Stir in fresh herbs if using. Ladle into bowls and enjoy hot.
- The first time I made this, I sauteed the onions and garlic in 1 tbsp of sesame oil before adding the other ingredients. The taste isn’t hugely affected although I do think it’s an improvement. If you have time for this step and are not bothered with a slightly higher calorie count, feel free to add some oil to make it more flavourful.
- This recipe is super forgiving and easy to customize! For example, if you want a thicker stew-like meal, just reduce the water by a quarter. You can substitute double the amount of fresh thyme for dried. The spinach can be swapped out for kale or swiss chard or left out altogether.
Nutrition, Cost, and Emissions Information
Each bowl of Instant Pot vegan lentil soup is 163 cal, costs $0.51, and releases 210 gCO2e of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Calculation for full recipe as written (3 servings):
Feel free to contact me for sources on the nutritional and carbon emissions information presented here. Note that I am not a nutritionist and guidelines on this page are provided for informational purposes only.
More Easy Lentil Soups
- Turkish-Spiced Lentil Soup, made with warming Middle Eastern spices like Aleppo pepper and urfa biber. Instant Pot and Slow Cooker friendly.
- Quick and Easy Lentil Soup (uses tomatoes for extra savoury flavour. It’s a good stovetop option if you don’t have a slow cooker or IP).
- Lentil Miso Soup with Kale, also made in the Instant Pot!