This isn’t just any vegetable lentil soup, this version is next level. Loaded with vegetables, texture, and flavor, you won’t be able to get enough. Easily make it in the instant pot or on the stove, either way, this vegetarian dinner will be ready in no time!
It’s about time I posted a lentil vegetable soup recipe! This one is one you’ll keep returning to over and over again, as long as it’s chilly outside and you’re in search of comfort.
Now, if your overall feeling about soups can be ‘meh’ (ahem, me, I’m one of those people), this is definitely one you’ll get on board with. If there’s a soup recipe here, you know it’s gotta be worth it.
First of all: it’s got TEXTURE. There are root veggies and lentils and kale and they all contribute to a whole lot of different textures in each and every bite. Then add in some walnuts and parsley for garnish…over the top!
There’s also a little kick from some spices (keep reading!) and it’s totally dip-your-bread-in worthy.
Not to mention, it fits into a variety of dietary needs: easily made vegan, naturally vegetarian, it’s also gluten-free and dairy-free! WIN for dinners that easily accommodate all!
Let’s cook already, shall we?!
- Lentils – so, not all lentils are created equal, but you can easily substitute in this recipe, keeping in mind that they will cook at different rates. I use green lentils because when cooking in the instant pot, they retain their shape and can withstand all that pressure cooking. You can also substitute brown lentils, and cook for less time on the stovetop.
- Veggies! This soup is loaded with veggies. There are parsnips, carrots, celery, and kale to keep those nutrients flowing.
- Aromatics – you know I’m not making anything savory without onion and garlic.
- Spices – maybe not the spices you would initially think of, this soup packs a slight kick with the addition of cumin, paprika, white and black peppers, and a little red pepper flake if you’re feeling spicy.
- Vegetable stock – the base of the soup, and to keep it vegetarian. Not vegetarian? You could substitute chicken stock, too.
- Garnishes – I like to add chopped walnuts and parsley to the finished dish, because not only are walnuts super nutritious and provide some good fats, but they add that extra crunch and texture to the soup.
- Lemon squeeze – a don’t skip step! It adds a little acidic brightness to the soup that would otherwise be greatly missed (and hey, can’t argue with the vitamin C boost it gives this time of year, either!
Reasons to Make Instant Pot Vegetable Soup
If you have an Instant Pot, then you might not need another reason if you use and love it. I know the struggle of having one more kitchen appliance and do I really want to get it out, etc, etc.
With this soup recipe, the Instant Pot takes the cooking time down on the lentils quite significantly, making it a really quick, easy dinner.
It’s also beneficial that it’s one dish and you’re done (well, there’s the knife and cutting board, but those are easily cleaned up once the IP is doing its thing).
To be fair, making it on the stovetop requires the same amount (see: one) of dishes, so we’re really looking at the time factor here.
What If I don’t have an Instant Pot?
No worries! Really, as you’ll see in the steps below, the process shots are on the stove. We’ve been making lentil soup since before the IP came to be, and we can continue to do so!
Making it the stovetop way might take about 10 minutes longer if you’re still using green lentils, but the soup will still be ready in about 30 – 40 minutes or so regardless! I still call that a win. Plus, you can’t beat the hands-off cook time.
The Recipe Steps
Whether you are making this soup in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop, the steps are basically the same.
First, you’ll start by sautéing the onion, celery, carrots, and parsnips (1). Because these are the hardiest of the veggies, they need a little time to roast and soften, which also helps bring out their flavor. *Add the garlic here for the IP as they won’t sautee for quite as long.
Then goes the garlic and spices to let their flavor shine through (2).
Then, the lentils and vegetable stock. Cover and let it slowly boil until the lentils have cooked through. Or, set your Instant Pot and let it do its thing.
Once they’ve cooked through – and you’ve taste-tested and adjusted the salt levels as needed – squeeze in the lemon juice, add the kale (4) and let it wilt (5), then serve it up. Garnish with the walnuts and parsley as desired, and of course, some bread or biscuits to go alongside it.
That’s it, easy, quick, healthy dinner ready with a few simple steps and ingredients, all in right around 30 minutes.
What can I pair with the soup?
- Thyme Parmesan Drop Biscuits – actually the best.
- Warm naan or pita bread – I toasted up a slice in the oven with shredded gruyere on top and it was FABULOUS with this soup.
- Homemade Sourdough
- 3 Ingredient Beer Bread
More Soup Recipes to Love:
- Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup
- Mushroom Gnocchi Wild Rice Soup
- Roasted Tomato Carrot Ginger Soup
- Vegan Broccoli Butternut Squash Soup
- Curried Carrot Squash Soup
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Healthy Vegetable Lentil Soup
- 3 Tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
- 1 cup parsnip, diced (~1 large)
- 1 cup carrots, diced (~2 medium)
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced (~1 medium)
- 1 cup celery, diced (~2 stalks)
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- Optional: pinch of red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup green lentils, see note re: brown lentils
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 1/2 cups green kale, ribs removed and chopped
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- Optional: fresh parsley, chopped to garnish
- Instant Pot Directions: Turn on the "sauté" function and melt butter (or heat olive oil). Add parsnip, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and spices, stirring to combine, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the sauté function and add lentils and 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock. Stir to combine. Close the top and make sure the valve is turned to sealed. Cook on high pressure for 11 minutes. Quick release the steam once it's done. Remove the lid and finish the soup as directed in step 3.
- Stovetop Directions: In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat (or heat olive oil). Add parsnip, carrots, onion, and celery; cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in lentils and 3 cups vegetable broth and bring to a low boil. Cover and cook for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are tender. Add the additional 1/2 cup of vegetable stock as needed for desired consistency.
- Finishing Touches: Remember to taste test for salt levels. After cooking, stir in the lemon juice and kale into the soup, until kale wilts. Serve and garnish with chopped walnuts and chopped parsley as desired.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This post was originally published in January of 2019; the text and photos were updated in January of 2021. No changes were made to the recipe.