Instant Pot lentil soup features smoky flavors and bacon for a hearty soup recipe. This quick take on a soup classic takes just fifteen minutes of pressure cook time!
What’s a better way to honor the return of sweatshirt weather than to share a soup recipe? This smoky Instant Pot lentil soup is all the things I like about a soup: thick, spiced up, relatively healthy, and easy to prepare.
Really easy to prepare, and quick too, when you consider the fact that it takes just fifteen minutes of pressure cook time.
Instant Pot for the win (as always).
For starters, you’ll brown up some bacon in the Instant Pot using the saute function. Besides adding an extra layer of heartiness to this Instant Pot lentil soup, the vegetables will saute in the leftover bacon fat for an efficient and moderately indulgent feel.
If you’re using leftover bacon that has already been cooked, you can simply use about one tablespoon of your favorite cooking oil in place of the bacon fat.
When it comes to bacon, use your preferred variety. I’m not crazy picky, but I definitely prefer thick-cut bacon to regular varieties. Its extra heft holds up well during the cook time, as about half of the bacon will pressure cook in the soup, with the remaining being reserved for a delicious topping.
Once the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic are sauteed, you’ll add two tablespoons of tomato paste to the Instant Pot to cook for a bit before the liquid ingredients are poured in.
It looks a little weird all globbed up and isn’t easy to break up into pieces, but allowing the tomato paste time to brown on the saute function accentuates all of the delicious flavors in this Instant Pot lentil soup.
Don’t worry if extra-browned bits become stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot. In the next step you’ll deglaze the pan with some of the broth, which should bring up everything easily. Not only does this help ward off an Instant Pot “burn” message while it’s pressure cooking (from registering a too-hot temperature on the bottom of the pot), but deglazing the pan disperses all those wonderfully caramelized sugars into the soup.
Once all of the ingredients are added to the Instant Pot, give everything a quick stir and pressure cook for fifteen minutes. That’s all the time that’s needed for the dry lentils to become perfectly softened and for this amazing smoky flavor to develop.
The smoky flavor here comes from smoked paprika, ground coriander, and chili powder on the spice front and the bacon if you’re using a smoked variety (highly recommend). It adds a great, subtly smoky twist to lentil soup that complements all the savory flavors going on here with the beef broth base.
And there you have it – Instant Pot lentil soup. Top with the remaining bacon and add fresh herbs if you like, and you have yourself a hearty and nutritious bowl of goodness. I especially love leftover portions as lunches in the days after. Good fuel for getting through an afternoon of work!
Smoky Instant Pot lentil soup recipe notes:
- Would you rather have a lentil soup that’s smoky and spicy? Try chopping up one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and adding it along with the remaining ingredients in step #4. I’ve made that variety before and enjoyed it (as you can see my pepper in the overhead ingredient shot above!), but be warned – it’s pretty spicy! This smoky version is a safer bet for a wide range of palates.
- I highly recommend using a variety of bacon that is thick-cut and smoked.
- If you’re using leftover cooked bacon and won’t have bacon fat to use in step #2 below, use one tablespoon of your preferred cooking oil.
Smoky Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- 6 slices bacon, thick-cut and roughly-chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 32 oz reduced-sodium beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
- 2 cups lentils (about 13 oz), sorted and rinsed
- Press the "Saute" button on the Instant Pot. Once heated, add chopped bacon and saute until the bacon is fully cooked, moving the bacon around the pan occasionally.
- Once cooked, remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to let it drain. Discard all but 1 tbsp or so of the bacon fat, then add chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for 3-4 minutes, and then add the minced garlic.
- Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then add the Add the salt, smoked paprika, pepper, coriander, and chili powder.. Add the tomato paste and stir it into the vegetables and let it saute for 1-2 minutes.
- With the Instant Pot still on "Saute", pour in about 1/3 cup of the beef broth and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot. Add in the remaining beef broth, water, diced tomatoes, lentils, and about half of the cooked bacon and give everything a stir.
- Press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button to shut the Saute function off. Close and lock the lid on the Instant Pot, ensuring the pressure release valve is set to "sealing".
- Press the "Manual" button and adjust the time using the "+" or "-" buttons to 15 minutes. The Instant Pot will take 10-15 minutes to pressurize, during which time you may hear hissing. "15" minutes will appear on the display when it's pressurized and cooking begins.
- Once the cook time is through, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, and then carefully switch the valve to "venting", taking care not to burn yourself on the steam as the rest of the pressure releases. You can also let it naturally release entirely if you prefer. Garnish with reserved bacon for serving.