Don’t discount this humble-looking pressure cooker lentil soup! Packed with flavor (that smoked paprika!), it is incredibly delicious and needs only three minutes in the pressure cooker.

Pressure Cooker Smoky Lentil Soup

There is literally no way to photograph and make lentil soup look as good as it tastes. But let me tell you, this smoky lentil and potato soup is delicious, and it won over even my toughest skeptics.

Brian walked in from work the night I made this for the first time, and instantly, his face froze in skepticism.

I get it.

This isn’t the prettiest dish on the food market. And I don’t know what it is about lentils, but every time my family sees them on the menu plan (I swear, I’m going to start hiding the menu plan as to avoid preconceived notions), there’s a bit of moaning and groaning.

I happen to love the humble little legume, but it’s often a tough sell for the fam, especially if the entire dish is meatless.

So Brian walks in, looks skeptical (but is smart enough to know that if he utters even one naysaying word in front of the kids, those impressionable young souls, he’s sleeping on the couch for a month), and sits down at the table with a slightly sardonic smile on his face, saying “mmm, lentil soup, yum” while giving me the side eye.

Pressure Cooker Smoky Lentil Soup

You probably know where I’m going here…this simple lentil and potato soup, with all the delicious flavor that smoked paprika (so key to this recipe) brings, was a smash hit. Not only with Brian, but the kids loved it. Honestly, they loved it.

And I’m not going to lie: it’s sooooo ridiculously hard in these situations when, in the end, everyone is vying for seconds, for me not to gloat or offer a little lecture about quick assumptions or just adopt a very smug expression on my face for at least a day and a half. I held myself back (this time).

My whole point is, this soup is amazing! Not only does it cook for a short three minutes in the pressure cooker (never fear, stovetop instructions included below!), but the flavor is incredible.

The lovely red lentils basically melt into the soup while cooking so you’re left with a thick, naturally creamy soup that is hearty, wholesome, and tasty.

Pressure Cooker Smoky Lentil Soup

This soup is going to be on repeat during the colder months ahead, especially since the leftovers are even better the next day (although still not pretty, JBHH*).

A couple FYIs:
1)I have a beloved Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) which is what I have used to make this soup; a stovetop pressure cooker (this is the one I have) or other electric model would work just as well. In the past I’ve written more details about the ins and outs of pressure cooking, and if you are interested in more pressure cooking recipes, here’s a list of favorites.

2)I found the red lentils in my grocery store’s bulk bin section; they are similar to these red lentils on Amazon, if you need a visual. These are the brown lentils I use.

*Just Being Honest Here

What To Serve
Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls or My Favorite Cornbread
Sliced cheese (sounds weird, but it’s delicious with this soup)

One Year Ago: Amazing Crustless Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin White Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake {Egg-Free, Easily Gluten Free}
Three Years Ago: Creamy Confetti Corn with Bacon

Pressure Cooker Smoky Lentil and Potato Soup

Yield: Serves 6

Ok, let's talk lentils. There are lots of varieties, and you can definitely experiment with this recipe, but I've made this with all (2 cups total) brown lentils and then decided to try it with half red and half brown lentils (1 cup each, as written in the recipe) and it was better. The red lentils absorb and kind of melt into the soup giving it a delicious creaminess. I found red lentils in the bulk bins at my local grocery store.

If there is one recipe that should put you over the top to finally buy smoked paprika, let it be this. That amazingly fragrant and delicious flavor is so important to the tastiness of this soup.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, try this on the stovetop: follow the directions, sautéing the vegetables in oil and adding the rest of the ingredients, except the kale or spinach. Bring to a simmer, cover partially, and let cook for 35-40 minutes (maybe longer, just keep an eye on it), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Stir in the kale or spinach, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (about 2 stalks)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold or red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (I do not peel but you can if you want)
  • 1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed (see note above)
  • 1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed (see note above)
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
  • 8 to 10 ounces kale or spinach, chopped (optional but delicious)

Directions

  1. In a stovetop or electric pressure cooker, heat the oil (use the Sauté function in the Instant Pot). Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery, and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn.
  2. Add the cumin, paprika and salt. Stir to combine.
  3. Add the potatoes, lentils and stock or broth.
  4. Secure the lid on the pressure cooker. Cook at 3 minutes on high pressure. Quick release the pressure, unlock the lid, and stir in the kale or spinach, if using.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper (very important!) and serve. The soup will thicken a bit as it cools.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/smoky-lentil-and-potato-soup/

Recipe Source: sent to me by a MKC reader, Laura A., similar to this recipe at Eat Within Your Means

Disclaimer: this post contains Amazon affiliate links.

48 Responses to Smoky Lentil and Potato Soup {Pressure Cooker or Stovetop}

  1. Photographing soup can be so tricky!

    I’ve never tried the instant pot yet. You’ve got me intrigued! Dinner in 3 minutes sounds perfect!

  2. Melanie says:

    Ooooh, lentils are my favorite. I am excited to try this version of lentil stew! I make it very regularly through the fall and winter, and my kids like it more and more each time. You are right, it is such a visual thing. When they see lentils, they’re like, “NOOOO!”, but then they eat 2 bowls each. I originally ate lentils when I was an exchange student in Spain; my host mom made them very frequently. She always added chorizo to her stew, so now at home I always add kielbasa or whatever kind of ring sausage I am in the mood for. I’ll probably use meat with your recipe as well, just because I know that helps in getting my boys (big and little) to eat it. Thanks for sharing a new version of lentils, and I am excited to try them with smoked paprika. P.S. I bought an Instant Pot because of you, and I love it. Add that to the list of kitchen things I have bought because of MKC LOL!

  3. Laurie says:

    Looks good Mel, just a quick question as I’ve never cooked with lentils before. Are they dry, like beans? If so, I’m guessing they don’t have to be soaked before hand.

    • Mel says:

      Yes, they are dry like beans! But no, they don’t always have to be soaked. I never do unless I’m sprouting them and that’s a whole different story. They should be widely available near the rice in any grocery store.

  4. Angie says:

    Looks delicious. Does it have sausage in it? It looks like it in the picture but isn’t in the recipe.

  5. Melynda says:

    Brown food is never pretty, but it is always delicious! Can’t wait to make this, lentils are one of my favorite ingredients to work with. Thank you.

  6. Susan says:

    This has two of my favorites in it, lentils and potatoes. It looks delicious. Can’t wait to try it.

  7. Monica says:

    I will have to try this! I add smoked paprika to my salsa and it’s magical. I’m sure it’s great here too!

  8. Rebecca says:

    So the green lentils are also cooked fully in 3 minutes? I make this recipe often: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/30-minute-pressure-cooker-chicken-lentil-bacon-stew.html with green lentils and after the 20 minute cook time, they’re still pretty chewy. Sounds delicious though! I’ll have to try it out.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for your note, Rebecca. I’m glad you brought up the green lentils. Because I only used brown and red, I took out the option for green lentils (it was in the original recipe). You are right, of all the lentil varieties, green lentils take a lot longer to cook, and since I haven’t used them, I’d rather people stick with brown and red so it works out. 🙂

      • Sara says:

        I actually just used green lentils (all I had) and being dubious about potatoes and lentils cooking in three minutes, (newbie lol), I extended mine to 5 minutes. Came out great. It is so delicious! Thanks for this recipe!

  9. Doug says:

    I’ve got a lentil soup mix (Bob’s Red Mill, I think), but I’m going to use this to make it more interesting! Many thanks.

  10. Brianna says:

    I love lentils and smoked paprika. Sometimes I just see it in my cupboard and want to smell it! I can’t wait to try this, although I’m sure my daughter would prefer another meal. Lentils are a hard sale for her too. Question as well; I attended your event at BYU and in the last session you mentioned you had a word document with all your instant pot recipes and tips. I asked you about it and you said they’d lost it on the WRC blog, but they posted everything else, and not that. Can you email it to me? If so, that be great. If not, no worries, I will still read your blog, I promise. Thanks!

  11. Manda says:

    Love the idea of lentils, potatoes and smoked paprika! I’ve never cooked with red lentils before, how would this be with all red (no brown) lentils?

  12. Stacey says:

    Made this tonight and everyone loved it except the 13 mo old! So fast, so good! My husband thinks he hates lentils because he didn’t like them when he lived in Peru. But so far he likes your lentil soups. Any more recipes you can share to justify my buying them in bulk?! And thanks for saving my life/dinner tonight. My plans crashed and I needed something fast. This was perfect!

  13. Chelsea says:

    Anyway this could be changed up for a slow cooker?

  14. Jenny Richardson says:

    Looks wonderful–thank you. We will make it today, pretending it is cool enough for soup in Arizona! I have my vegetarian daughter living here for a few months, and wondered if you can sort your recipes into a vegetarian tab? You know, in your free time. 😉 I don’t plan on cooking vegetarian all the time, but would love to once or twice a week. I tried just sorting through your search engine, and some possibilities came up, but not as many as you have. And thank you for this great resource–you save dinner around here all the time! You and your website are always on my list of favorite things!

  15. Erin G says:

    You’re once again my hero!!! I was looking through your site yesterday as I was trying to find a recipe to use up my lentils and potatoes. This recipe couldn’t be more perfect for my mission to clean out the pantry!!!! Thank you!!!!

  16. Amy W. says:

    3 minutes cook time!!!!!! Wow!!!! I’m so into that! Can’t wait to try it! Love my IP! Love you, Mel! Thank you!

  17. Paige says:

    Oh perfect! We have a bag of lentils in our pantry that we bought to make lentil soup, but I couldn’t find a credible recipe that I trusted! Glad you just posted this!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  18. Amy says:

    Soup in the instant pot is my very very favorite thing to make! So quick and convenient. I’ll even do creamy soups and simmer the milk/flour after the soup cycle. Love it!
    I cracked up at your description of Brian’s hesitation, but that he knew better than to say something. My husband does that ALL the time. I know “the look” too well. Then it really is SO hard not to rub it in or lecture when it’s good.

  19. Kristen S says:

    I made this last night and loved how simple it was to throw together. I threw in some smoked sausage and I’m glad I did. It was a great addition. Thank you for the recipe Mel! Most everyone in the family liked it. If you like lentils, here’s another yummy winter soup/stew.
    http://www.food.com/recipe/carrabbas-sausage-and-lentil-soup-162864
    I add 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes and 1 tsp of the other herbs.

  20. Rita says:

    You were right, it’s not pretty, but it sure is good! I just recommended it to all my soup loving friends. I’m going to try this as a crockpot freezer meal. Throw everything together in a bag and freeze. Pop it into crockpot and away you go! I’m guessing it should work well!

  21. Jennie P says:

    Made it this morning for dinner this evening. I added 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage. The couple bites I tasted were delicious! Sure to be even better this evening. Thanks for the hint on the red and brown lentils. I really like how the red lentils added body to the soup. I made your curry lentil soup last week and it’s interesting to see and taste the difference. Both are yummy!

  22. Angela says:

    Had this for dinner tonight and it was quite tasty! Made as directed except I must have used the green lentils (My package just said “Lentils,” and they looked greenish brown.), so I had to add more cook time in the pressure cooker. I just redid the 3 minutes, and that cooked them up well enough. I really liked how the soup had a smoky flavor without using meat. My husband and 4 kids liked it, too. My husband said if he were in a dire situation like a prisoner of war camp or backpacking for days on end and were fed this, it would be like heaven.

  23. Natasha says:

    Hi Mel, I’ve loved your site for years, but never comment (possibly laziness!!) But I must thank you for this recipe!! After recently becoming vegetarian but feeling overwhelmed as the rest of my family still love their meat, I needed a few recipes that suit everyone without feeling guilt that they’re ‘missing out’. But this soup was so stinkin delicious everyone gave it 10/10, even my so-picky-he’s-almost-anorexic son. Thank you for continuing to make my life in the kitchen more enjoyable.

  24. Janet says:

    Mel, I love brown lentils but have not been able to find them. Where did you get yours?
    I use them to also make awesome lentil tacos. I’ve even gone to special stores, and asked if they have brown lentils, and they say yes, but they end up being the green ones, which do look a bit brownish. But, being a lentil lover, I know the difference 🙂

    Also, have you put up anything from your BYU classes and I’ve just missed that?

    Thank you!!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Janet – hmmm, I’m not necessarily a lentil expert, so maybe the ones I’m using are actually green? Although they don’t take quite as long to cook as the green ones. I linked to the ones I’ve bought before on Amazon…but my local Winco also carries them in the bulk section. The BYU Women’s Services department put the handouts up on their website but I haven’t done a recap yet! Hopefully soon!

  25. Kelly says:

    Yes! I have a habit of adding everything in the produce section to lentil soups and over complicating a simple, healthy dish. I left yours alone (stovetop method) and I’m glad I did. Delicious, hearty, and the smoked paprika may have even convinced my meat-loving in-laws there was some in this soup. Thanks again for another great recipe.

  26. Deanna says:

    I’ve been wanting to use my pressure cooker more often and we love soup in this house. I made it last night and it has been moved to the “make again” section of my recipe files. The only change was adding some cut up ham. I used the optional kale too because, well, KALE!

  27. Kelsey says:

    I made this last night and it was so easy and delicious! I love the smokey flavor! My family loved it too. The amazing-ness that is smoked paprika was unknown to me before I started following your blog and now I can’t believe I ever cooked without it!!

  28. Stephanie says:

    Mel this was wonderful! Perfect for a cold evening when we needed something for dinner unrelated to Thanksgiving! As usual you gave me a winner!

  29. Daphne Savard says:

    Mel, You are my number one source for recipes. I have celiac disease and I am able to use your recipes without too much fuss. I love everything you make and your recipes are so easy! This soup, like so many of your recipes, was absolutely delicious and required no modifications. Thank you for sharing your ideas with the world.

  30. Kay says:

    Just made this this morning in about 20 minutes, including chopping time. It is delicious! I just love my IP and so glad you include IP recipes in your lineup. Keep ’em coming!

  31. Anne says:

    I’ve known about lentils for FOREVER but hardly ever come across recipes for them… so there are always some languishing in my pantry. I have basic lentils and a bag of French lentils that I’ve never tried. They are much smaller and almost black, but their cooking instructions are identical to the green lentils. Based on previous comments, I think I’ll double the time under pressure and see how it goes. (Fortunately, my family likes mushy vegetables in soup if that overdoes it…).

  32. Erin says:

    This was delicious! We had it with grilled cheese and roasted broccoli. The 2 and 4 year olds loved it! Thanks for all the amazing recipes! I am thinking about freezing the leftovers, any thoughts on that?

  33. Krista says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! The brown lentils weren’t done after 3 minutes in the pressure cooker, but after 3 more minutes it was just about right.
    I will definitely be making this again!

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