This Lemon Lentil Soup can be done on the stove or Instant Pot. Both versions are simple and quick. The soup is light, healthy, and delicious! It’s also vegan and gluten-free.
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This recipe was originally published on April 24, 2008. It is now updated with more information, variation, photos, and video.
I’ve been blogging for over a decade now. Originally it was a Russian blog on a LiveJournal platform (if anyone is interested, that blog is still live although I haven’t updated it in many years).
Then I had a friend build me a custom site with a custom blog. That old custom blog slowly evolved into this site.
Third recipe that I posted on this site was for this particular Lemon Lentil Soup, it was posted in spring 2008. The only difference the original recipe was made on the stove. After years and years of making this delicious Lemon Lentil Soup, I finally adapted it to be made in Instant Pot.
This recipe is a staple in my kitchen and for a good reason. It needs only a handful of ingredients that are usually in my pantry and just a few minutes to prep.
A few years ago I posted a recipe for Lentils and Brussels Sprouts Skillet along with an amusing anecdote about my husband loving lentils so much that he often makes lentil soup as his midnight snack. Well, this Lemon Lentil Soup is the recipe that he makes!!
You can cook this Lemon Lentil Soup on the stove top or in Instant Pot. The soup is really fast and easy to make. The result is delicious, refreshing, healthy, and tasty Lemon Lentil Soup. It is also naturally gluten-free and vegan.
Ingredients to make Lemon Lentil Soup
Most recipes for Lentil Soups call for onions, carrots, and sometimes celery. I don’t use any of those ingredients. I tried and found that they add no extra flavour to the soup, so I omit them just for the sake of simplicity and speed.
However, you could use onions and carrots and other vegetables. I will discuss different variations for this recipe below. But these are the basic ingredients that I use when I make my Lemon Lentil Soup.
- Olive oil
- Garlic (fresh or jarred)
- Seasonings (I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and turmeric)
- Red lentils
- Vegetable broth (you can use any kind you like)
- Lemon (zest and juice)
How to make Lemon Lentil Soup on the stove
I’ve made this Lemon Lentil Soup on the stove countless number of times and the technique between stove top and Instant Pot soups varies slightly but this is just a personal preference.
- Heat a little bit of olive oil in the pot.
- Add the minced (or pressed) garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes stirring constantly. Make sure that garlic doesn’t burn. You just want the oil to slightly infuse with the garlic flavour.
- Add the red lentils, mix, and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add your seasonings.
- Add the broth.
- Bring everything to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Once cooked, add the fresh lemon zest and lemon juice.
How to make Instant Pot Lemon Lentil Soup
Making Lemon Lentil Soup in Instant Pot isn’t actually much faster as electric pressure cooker takes a long time to come to pressure. However, I like the ability to just close the lid on my Instant Pot and forget about it for a time. No need to bring anything to boil, reduce to simmer, make sure that the soup doesn’t boil over.
So, whenever I make it in Instant Pot, I omit the steps of sautéing the garlic, thus making this soup a real “dump and start” recipe. It is super easy to make!
- Add all the ingredients to Instant Pot.
- Cook on High Pressure for 4 minutes.
- Add the fresh lemon zest and lemon juice.
Note: if you have time and energy then by all means, feel free to sauté the garlic in Instant Pot first!
How long it actually takes to make Lemon Lentil Soup in Instant Pot
Making Lemon Lentil Soup in Instant Pot (this is one of the models I have) isn’t much faster than cooking it on the stove but it’s much more convenient. At least for me.
If you are using the amount of ingredients listed (and not doubling the ingredients), then it takes about 15 minutes to come to pressure, 4 minutes to cook, and 5 minutes to release pressure. Add another minute to zest and juice the lemon and you get 25 minutes.
Cooking this soup on the stove takes about the same time as you need to get the broth to boil and then simmer.
Can you double the ingredients?
This original recipe makes about 4 small servings, maybe starter size servings, or it makes 2 large servings. If you want to double the ingredients, then you can but I would reduce the liquid a bit.
For some reason 1 cup lentils to 5 cups broth works well but 2 cups lentils to 10 cups broth makes a slightly thinner soup, although it is still delicious. If you’d like to double the ingredients, I would use 2 cups lentils to about 8 cups of liquid.
Also note, the time to come to pressure and release pressure will increase when you increase the amount of ingredients, especially liquid.
More lentil recipes
- Lentil-Turkey Meatballs and three ways to use them
- Lentils and Brussels Sprouts Skillet (vegan and gluten-free)
- Vegan Lentil Pot Pie
Ingredients and Variations for Lemon Lentil Soup
As I mentioned above, most Lentil Soup recipes use onions and carrots. I personally like how simple the flavour and texture of this particular Lemon Lentil Soup is and I don’t add anything else. However, you could definitely add other ingredients and they all would work well with either stove top or Instant Pot versions.
- Onions, carrots, celery
- If you can’t imagine making a soup without starting it with a base of onions, carrots, and celery (also known as mirepoix), then by all means, feel free to add them.
- You can add a little bit of diced bell peppers also.
- You can mix and match any of these vegetables any way you like in this recipe.
- Fresh garlic is more flavourful and better, however, if you don’t have time to mince garlic or just don’t have fresh garlic, then you could totally use jarred minced garlic as I used in the video for this recipe.
- I find that this Lemon Lentil Soup is thick and almost creamy on its own but you could definitely add potatoes to it to make it more filling.
- I would dice the potatoes into relatively small pieces, so that they’d be melt in your mouth tender.
- No need to adjust timing for Instant Pot cooking as diced potatoes most definitely will cook in 4 minutes.
- You might need to adjust timing for stove top cooking of this soup and test potatoes for doneness as 15 minutes might not be enough for some potatoes.
- To be honest, I don’t usually measure my seasonings and just add a little bit of whatever I have on hand. I often add cayenne powder also.
- You could really change the flavour of this soup by using various seasoning mixes.
- Try your favourite curry powder, taco seasoning, cajun spices, even my Khmeli Suneli Spice Mix would work wonderful in this soup.
- I love the fresh and bright lemon flavour of this Lemon Lentil Soup.
- If you don’t like too much lemon and tang in soups, then feel free to use less lemon juice and you could omit the lemon zest.
- For a fun twist, try lime juice.
- For a vegan version, use vegetable broth.
- However, you could use chicken or beef broth also if you are not following a vegan diet.
- Whatever version you prefer, I always use Better Than Bouillon base for my stocks.
- Sausage (if not following a vegan/vegetarian diet)
- My husband likes adding smoked sausage to this soup or even pepperettes.
- For the stove top version, sauté the sliced sausage with the garlic. Then follow the directions.
- For the Instant Pot version, you could either sauté the sliced sausage or just add pieces and cook the soup without sautéing.
- I personally prefer the vegetarian version of this soup more.
- Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
- We absolutely love adding a few splashes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce to this soup!
More Instant Pot Soup Recipes
- Instant Pot Tomato Orzo Soup
- Quick and Easy Instant Pot Fish and Potato Soup
- Instant Pot Meatball Soup
- Instant Pot Borscht (vegan and gluten-free)
DO YOU WANT MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES?
Join my Real Ingredients Instant Pot Recipes Facebook Group!!! It’s a fun and safe place to share your own Instant Pot recipes made with Real Ingredients.
Lemon Lentil Soup
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 3 cloves Garlic (minced or pressed)
- 1 cup Red lentils
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
- 5 cups Vegetarian broth
- 1 Lemon (zest and juice)
How to cook Lemon Lentil Soup on the stove
- In a medium pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat, add the garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly so that garlic doesn't burn.
- Add the red lentils and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add all the spices.
- Add the broth, bring to boil, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes until lentils are cooked through. If simmered a little longer, the soup will be of almost puree consistency.
- Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of paprika.
How to cook Lemon Lentil Soup in Instant Pot
- Add all the ingredients except for the lemon juice and zest to Instant Pot.
- Close and lock the lid.
- Turn the vent on the lid to the sealing position.
- Press Manual or Pressure Cooker button (depending on your model) and using the arrow buttons set the cook time to 4 minutes. Depending on your Instant Pot model and how cold the broth is, it'll take around 15 minutes to come to pressure. It could take up to 20 minutes, so be patient.
- Once the Instant Pot beeps that the 4 minutes of cooking are done, do a quick release. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of paprika.
Mention or tag @Imagelicious
Here are the photos from 2008. I was so proud of them!
Faye Weinstein says
This turned out fantastic! So easy to make, and so much flavour. Very yummy!! I actually doubled the recipe because I wanted it to serve more than 4, and I am so glad I did. Only used one lemon (juice and zest) and it was perfect. Added 2 shredded carrots as well. Will definitely be making it again soon!
Sharon B says
This was so quick and easy and tasty. Honestly it doesn’t take any more time just doing it on the stove top which was how I made it. I love the lemony flavor and the turmeric seemed to shine through (OK perhaps I was a LITTLE heavy handed with it). Definitely on my “dinner in a hurry” roster.
Looking forward to trying this recipe. Can I just clarify one thing?
Step 5 of the instant pot recipe says “ do a quick release. This will take about 5 minutes.” Should it be a slow release? Because quick release is finished in a matter of seconds?
Thanks, looks really tasty!
I’ve been using Instant Pot almost daily for the past two years and I’ve never had a quick release done in a matter of seconds. The fastest one would be a minute if there’s not much food or liquid inside. In any case, with this amount of liquid in the pot, it’ll definitely take more than a few seconds 🙂 I always add timings to my recipes so that people know how long it’ll take to get dinner on the table. I too often see misleading recipes that say that meal is cooked in X minutes when in reality it takes a lot longer because of the time it takes to bring the pot to pressure and to release pressure. All of this is to say, do a quick release 🙂
Rod Beazley says
Do the lentils have to be soaked overnight
No. There’s no need to soak red lentils for either this recipe or any recipe actually. Red lentils cook really fast
This was soooo good! I was a sick over the weekend and wanted a simple but nourishing soup. This was perfect! Everyone loved it — the flavours are bright and wonderful, and it was totally satisfying. Definitely will go into steady rotation now.
Charles Mackay says
Just made a batch this evening – amazing!
And so quick and simple!
Thanks for sharing this recipe:)
Thank you so much! I am so glad you loved it!
Loved this recipe, great depth of flavour, easy to follow, and healthy too!
I’m so glad you liked the recipe! It’s a favourite in my household!
Melissa Palmer says
This was fantastic. My only variation was that i added some very small cubed ham. I loved it. So did my husband.
I’m so glad you loved it! I’ve never tried adding ham to this soup but my husband loves adding smoked sausage which is quite similar.
YUM! I love lentils too and soup is definitely a great way to enjoy them!
This is an oldie but a goodie recipe! I’m planning on making it again soon.