Lentil soup is such a quintessential plant-based food. And such a staple food for vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, and omnivores.
Make-Ahead Lentil Soup
Lentil soup is perfect for food prep because it’s so easy to make in quantity and eat during the week. But if you’re like me and don’t want to eat the same soup all week, it freezes well. When I don’t have the time to cook, I like to be able to pull something out of the freezer. It’s like shopping in my own (healthy) convenience store!
This recipe’s roots are based on batch cooking and food prep. My friend, Michealan Bowers, shared the original recipe with me. Every summer she would make big batches of this soup using garden-fresh tomatoes, onions, Swiss chard, carrots, and parsley. Then she would stash meal-size containers in the freezer to be enjoyed all winter long.
Why Are Lentils So Popular?
Not only are they tasty, lentils offer all the health benefits of beans but cook quickly–no soaking needed.
- high in fiber–good for the microbiome
- high in resistant starch
- high in iron
- rich in folate
- high in protein
- high in antioxidants
- high in phytochemicals
- low glycemic index
You can learn much more about the nutritional benefits of lentils at the World’s Healthiest Foods website.
I’m not the only one who likes lentils. My brother penned this poem.
I am thankful for the lentil,
Of all the beans most gentle–
The food that I most often take for lunch.
For high nutrition density
It has a great propensity–
In minerals, it surely packs a punch.
Yet it’s humble, unassuming,
not haughty or presuming,
a friend of foods both simple and enchanted.
That’s why I have this notion
of leguminous devotion.
I’ll ask you too – don’t take this bean for granted.
Why I Love Pardina Lentils
My favorite variety of lentils is Pardina, also known as Spanish lentils. These petite brown lentils are the favored variety in Spain and in the Mediterranean because of their superior flavor and the way they hold their shape.
Even though Pardina lentils grow in Washington state where I live, they can be hard to find. I have a friend who goes to the lentil packing warehouse in Farmington and fills up the trunk of her car with 25-pound bags of lentils. For $12 per bag, these lentils are a bargain. Some stores that sell bulk foods also sell them. And Pardina lentils are also available online. The common brown lentils work fine too.
Three Ways to Cook Lentil Soup
This recipe is written for three different cooking methods. The first is the Instant Pot, which takes 45 minutes in all: about 15 minutes to come to pressure, 15 minutes cooking time + 15 minutes natural release.
I’ve also included a slow cooker variation, which takes 8 to 10 hours on high. Even though I love my Instant Pot, I am not getting rid of my slow cooker. Sometimes it’s more convenient to use a slow cooker. I love to walk in the door and smell this soup cooking.
How to Cook Lentil Soup in the Instant Pot
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients.
Step 2: Place all the ingredients in the Instant Pot.
Step 3 Set the Instant Pot for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. Release any remaining pressure.
Step 5: Serve with a salad and whole-grain bread or crackers.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups dried brown lentils picked over and rinsed
- 8 cups water
- 4 cups chopped Swiss chard
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 medium carrots shredded
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil optional
- Fresh parsley leaves for garnish
- Press or mince garlic and set aside to allow the cancer-fighting compounds to develop.
- Stir lentils, water, Swiss chard, tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, carrots, parsley, salt, oregano, thyme, and garlic together in a 6- or 8-quart pressure cooker.
- Secure the lid and close the pressure release valve. Select the Pressure Cook/Manual setting and set for 15 minutes. When cooking is completed, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure. Carefully remove the lid.
- If desired, stir in the olive oil, Garnish with parsley. Makes 16 (1-cup) servings.