Vegan Lentil Soup

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This vegan lentil soup is bursting with flavor from roasted garlic. It tastes like it’s been cooking all day, but cooks up in less than an hour in the Instant Pot.

I didn’t grow up eating lentils, but in my adult life I’ve found that I love them. They’re one of the quickest cooking beans (no soaking required) and they’re loaded with protein, fiber, folate and iron. Plus I like their small size and versatility. There are so many different ways to prepare and eat lentils, but one of my favorites has to be soup.

I’ve shared several lentil soup recipes over the years from this cabbage lentil soup and lentil stew with kale to this butternut squash red lentil stew. This lentil soup is a bit different because we’re making it in the Instant Pot! Although, don’t worry… I’m still giving instructions for how to make it on the stove-top as well.

Bowl of lentil soup with celery and carrots. Beside the bowl is a slice of bread and parsley.

Garlic Lentil Soup Ingredients

  • vegetables – sweet yellow onion, carrots, celery and roasted garlic
  • French green or brown lentils
  • vegetable broth
  • canned diced tomatoes
  • red wine vinegar
  • tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • seasonings and spices – dried oregano, dried thyme, bay leaves, sea salt and pepper
  • optional toppings – sriracha, avocado, fresh parsley
Ingredients to make lentil soup including tomatoes, broth, carrots, lentils, onion, celery, tomato paste, garlic, vinegar and spices.

Roasted Garlic = Amazing Flavor

There’s actually a lentil soup on the menu at one of my favorite Greek restaurants in town called Stella’s. I typically order a big bowl of it as my meal with a salad on the side or convince Isaac to split a bowl with me if I’m ordering an entree. I’ve tried several times to make a lentil soup at home that tastes like Stella’s lentil soup and failed. My version has never had the same flavor… until now. And I think I figured out the secret ingredients – roasted garlic and vinegar.

By using a whole bulb of roasted garlic you get a lovely, robust garlic flavor and a hint of sweetness that permeates the whole soup. And the red wine vinegar simply brightens up the flavor of the soup. It’s kind of like salt. Whenever you feel like a dish is missing a little something, you tend to add salt, right? Well sometimes salt can do it, but other times you need something acidic like citrus juice or vinegar. In the case of this soup, vinegar is the winner!

Bowl of lentil soup with celery and carrots.

How to Roast Garlic

The first time I made roasted garlic at home I fell in love. If you’ve never roasted garlic, you have to try it! Your entire house will smell amazing and it takes any recipe that calls for garlic to the next level. Here’s how to make it:

  • Cut off the top – Cut the top of the garlic bulb off about ¼ inch down from the top. You want to make sure you’re cutting off a bit of each clove around the bulb. 
  • Prep – Place aluminum foil under the garlic bulb and drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over top to cover the exposed cloves. Wrap the foil around the bulb tightly.
  • Bake – Bake the bulb at 400ºF for 30-40 minutes or until the garlic is soft and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Remove cloves – Once cool, pop each clove out of its paper. Some cloves slide out really easily while others need to be encouraged out!
Side by side photos of an instant pot. In the first photo, carrots, onions and celery are being sautéed. In the second photo is the cooked lentil soup.

How to Make This in the Instant Pot

Sauté – Using the sauté function on high heat, heat the oil in the inner pot and then add the onion, carrots and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and onions are softened. Season with a little salt and pepper while cooking.

Add remaining ingredients + pressure cook – Stir in the roasted garlic, lentils, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Stir to combine. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.

Release pressure – After the cooking is complete, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then quick-release the remaining pressure.

Season + serve – Remove the bay leaves, stir in the vinegar and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and serve with toppings of choice!

Don’t worry! If you don’t have an Instant Pot you can still make this soup. I’m sharing stove-top instructions in the instructions as well!

Lentil soup in an instant pot. A wood spoon is in the pot.

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4.64 from 30 votes

Vegan Lentil Soup

This vegan lentil soup is bursting with flavor from roasted garlic. It tastes like it’s been cooking all day, but cooks up in less than an hour in the Instant Pot.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 10 cups

Ingredients  

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bulb roasted garlic, about 8–10 cloves, chopped*
  • 1 – 16 oz bag dry French green or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 2 32 oz containers of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper + more to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Optional toppings: sriracha, avocado, fresh parsley

Instructions 

Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker

  • Using the sauté function on high, heat oil in the inner pot for about 1 minute, until shimmering. Add the onion, carrots, celery and cook for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and onions are turning translucent. Season with a little salt and pepper while cooking.
  • Stir in the roasted garlic, lentils, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, paprika, cumin, nutmeg, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Once the cooking is complete, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick-release the remaining pressure.
  • Remove bay leaves, stir in vinegar, taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and serve with toppings of choice. I personally love adding fresh parsley and a splash of sriracha.

Stove-Top

  • Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery to the pot, stirring frequently for 8-10 minutes or until onions are soft and translucent. Season with a little salt and pepper while cooking. 
  • Add roasted garlic, lentils, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, paprika, cumin, nutmeg, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring every so often, for at least 1 hour or until the lentils are soft. 
  • Remove bay leaves, stir in vinegar, taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and serve with toppings of choice. I personally love adding fresh parsley and a splash of sriracha.

Notes

  • The garlic can be roasted in advance and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. I highly recommend prepping it ahead of time to speed up the cooking process.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 259kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 738mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 8g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: garlic lentil soup
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
Chicken fajita filling on a sheet pan with a wooden spoon. Tortillas are resting on the bottom of the sheet pan.
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Recipe Rating




82 Comments

  1. This looks absolutely delicious! Lentils are one of my all-time favourite foods so I need to try this (and all the other recipes)!

  2. Lentil soup is basically my life during winter! I’ll have to give this version a try ????
    We are just getting out of a hot hot summer in Sydney, but once it cools down I will be making ALL the soup.

    1. Hi Erin. You’ll definitely have to give this recipe a try once it cools down in Sydney! 🙂

  3. Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse. Love them, especially a good soup when there is a chill in the air. Thank you for sharing. Great recipe.

  4. I love lentils, so I’m very excited to try this! It looks delicious. I love soup year-round, too. So i’m happy to eat this throughout the spring and summer : )

  5. I totally agree! By eating only one portion of this kind of soup you’ll get almost entire daily recommended intake of folate and fiber (without mentioning all other good stuff you’ll get). And why should anyone stop after one portion?!

  6. Made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious!!! So simple and such great flavor. Hit the spot on a rainy night. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ahh.. this makes me so happy! It will taste even better tomorrow (if you have any left over). 🙂

    1. Hey Sarah! I think this soup would freeze just fine in an airtight container or a freezer bag. It should last about a week in the fridge.

  7. 5 stars
    I did need to add more salt & a few splashes of siracha at the end. Topped it with some avocado & bit of sour cream, sprinkling of fresh dill. It’s the roasted garlic that makes this extra delicious. Great idea! Hubby said it was the best soup I’ve ever made & I make a ton of great soups. 😋

    1. Ahh that makes me so happy to hear!! SO pumped this recipe was a hit. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it. 🙂

    2. If using presteamed lentils (Trader Joe’s), should we add them in at the very end? Also, should I reduce the amount of broth?

  8. 5 stars
    Have made this twice now and it is delicious! It freezes perfectly and is great for meal prep. I had it with some naan on the side and it was an A+ dinner.

    1. Yay! So glad this soup was a hit! Thanks so much for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  9. 3 stars
    I thought the soup had too much vinegar and not enough broth. The lentils took way longer than the allotted time to cook.

    1. Hey Jenna – Thanks for your feedback. This soup isn’t meant to be very brothy, but you can always add more broth to make it more liquidy if you prefer. How long did it take for your lentils to cook?

  10. Is it possible to cook this soup on the hob as I don’t have an instant pot or pressure cooker but would love to try. How would I adapt the recipe?

  11. This looks delicious! If I am using a slow cooker, should I cook the lentils before? Thank you! Your recipes are always so delicious!

    1. No I would add them to the slow cooker uncooked. It should take 3-4 hours on high or 6+ hours on low. It’ll be done once the lentils are soft and cooked. 🙂 Let me know how it turns out for you!!

  12. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! And so easy to make! That roasted garlic is a game changer! I was expecting the soup to be super spiced and be more of a Indian dish but it’s very mild (in the best way) and my two year old twin daughters loved it too so it’s an absolute win!!!

    1. Woo!! That makes me so happy to hear. I’m glad this soup was a hit. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. 🙂

  13. 5 stars
    This was delicious. 4/4 of the adults who ate it raved about how tasty- and filling-it was. I haven’t used an Instant Pot more than a few times and this recipe was so easy and quick. Yum!

    1. Woo! This makes me so happy to hear. Thank you for coming back to leave a comment and star rating.I really appreciate it! And I’m right there with you on using my Instant Pot. I’m determined to use it more!

  14. 5 stars
    I followed your recipe exactly, except that I added a 1/2 teaspoon of dried turmeric, and it came out perfect! My Instant Pot took about 15 minutes to come to pressure, so I’d say the overall prep/cook time was about an hour. I topped it with avocado and cilantro and served it with a green salad. I bet baby spinach stirred in at the end would be good too. Another great recipe from you!

    1. Woo!! So glad this soup was a hit, Kay. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. 🙂

  15. 5 stars
    All I have to say is HOLY FLAVOURS BATMAN! I made this in my crockpot and followed the stovetop instructions but instead of a soup pot I dumped the sautéed veg and rest of ingredients into my crockpot and let it cook all day and it worked beautifully. This soup is PACKED with layers on layers of cozy winter flavours. I served it with some local sourdough bread and it was magnificent *chef’s kiss*

    1. Ahh this makes me so happy to hear, Brittany. I’m so pumped this soup was a hit! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  16. 5 stars
    This came together fast and was so yummy! It is cozy and comforting and I will be adding this to my meal rotation! We had it topped with avocado and tortilla chips and the family loved it. 👌

  17. 5 stars
    Love, love, love this soup! Rich and hearty like a stew. I have made it for all my sick friends to help them feel better.

    1. That’s so sweet of you!! So glad this soup has been a hit. I so appreciate you coming back to leave a review. 🙂

  18. 4 stars
    I loved the flavors of the soup and the suggestion to put sriracha in it was great. My only problem is the lentils came out very mushy. I followed the instant pot instructions. 15 minutes on manual, 10 minute slow release, then a quick release. I don’t know if I did something wrong or if they’re supposed to be mushy.

  19. Did you make this in a 6qt instant pot? Did it fill up the 6qt? I have a 3qt should i halve the recipe? This sounds so yummy can’t wait to make it! Thank you!

    1. Hey Jen – I think I tested this one in my 6 qt pressure cooker. I think I’d half the recipe for a 3 qt instant pot.

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you for your quick reply Brittany. I made this last night and it was very very good! I basically halved everything for my 3qt instant pot, only 1 cup of Lentils, but could prolly have fit a bit more, and broth almost to the 2/3 fill line. So so good! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

        1. Woo!! So glad you loved this, Jen. Thanks for letting me know how it turned out and for leaving a review. I so appreciate it!

  20. 4 stars
    This was the first meal I prepared in my Instant Pot! It smelled amazing while cooking. I used red lentils and the soup came out very mushy. Next time I will try green lentils and add more broth. Very tasty!

    1. Yeah red lentils are softer than green lentils so that tends to happen. I’m glad you still enjoyed this soup! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review, Julia. I so appreciate it. 🙂

  21. 5 stars
    I made this last night for my husband and it was a hit! He kept asking if I really made it. He even dared to ask of the lentils were purchased pre cooked. Nope- with this recipe, I managed the whole thing. We are newlyweds and just purchased a house so I am starting to cook more. Previously, we were in the city eating out all the time.Thank you for making my novice cooking skills appear way more impressive!

    1. Ahh I love hearing this, Lily!! So glad this soup was a hit. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

  22. I want to make this for dinner tonight, but I only have minced garlic. Do you think it will totally ruin the flavor not having the roasted garlic?

    1. The roasted garlic adds extra flavor, but minced garlic will work in a pinch. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!

  23. I made this three times (including this morning) since you first posted it. I was the one who asked if red lentils could be used; I ended up not using them as I know they would not have turned out as good. This soup is such a hit in my house and in my sisters house (sharing is caring). Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Woo!! So glad this soup has been a hit. Thanks for coming back to leave a review, Dawn. I so appreciate it!

  24. 5 stars
    This recipe has awesome flavor, especially for a vegetarian recipe (which I love that you have so many vegetarian recipes, so thank you for that!). I agree that the roasted garlic is a must! Plus it’s so simple and was kind of fun to try for my first time. However, I don’t know what I did but my soup ended up with no liquid when I was done with it 🙈 next time I make it, I’m either going to cut back on the cooking time or add more liquid from the start.

  25. 5 stars
    Hi! I have a question I messed up and added the vinegar along with the other spices at the beginning (not at the end). The soup tastes sour. Do you have any suggestions on how to remedy this? I was thinking of sugar but I don’t know if that will make it taste funny. Thanks!

  26. Made this for dinner & served with grilled cheese 🙂

    I used minced garlic instead of the roasted and I thought it worked great with some extra addition of salt & pepper.

    1. So glad you enjoyed this recipe, Susan! Thanks for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it.

  27. 5 stars
    I have made a few different lentil soups in my instant pot and this is by far my favourite! It is so flavourful:)

    1. Woo!! I’m so glad you enjoyed this lentil soup, Jen! Thanks for making it and coming back to leave a review. It means the world to me!

  28. 5 stars
    I’ve made this a handful of times now and it never disappoints! SO good. The vinegar at the end and the roasted garlic make all the difference, and I love to top it with hot sauce. I have a question – can you freeze leftovers??

    1. Hey Lauren – So pumped you loved this recipe!! Isn’t the roasted garlic such a game-changer? You can definitely freeze this – just let it cool completely and place leftovers in a sealed bag or airtight container. Leftovers should last in the freezer for 1-2 months. When ready to eat, take it out of the freezer the night before to thaw and heat up leftovers on the stove or microwave.

  29. 5 stars
    Delicious. Made this recipe with Stove top directions since I don’t have an Instant pot or pressure cooker. It was a hit! Very tasty. Thank you Brittany. Love your recipes. Easy to make too.

    1. Woo! Love to hear that this recipe was a hit for you, Maureen! Thank you for leaving a review and star rating, I really appreciate it.

  30. 5 stars
    I made the stovetop version. Super easy and delicious!! I love soup. I could eat it every day. I made the recipe almost exactly as shown. Maybe extra roasted garlic 🥰. I did not have red wine vinegar so used balsamic vinegar. We had BBQ chicken the night before so added some to each of our bowls. It was excellent.
    I scooped out a little bit and tried the splash of Siracha. I didn’t like it, but after about a minute it sort of hit me in a good way, so I did add a splash to my bowl. New go-to recipe! Thank you

    1. WOO! I am so happy that this recipe is a hit, Terry. Thank you for coming back and leaving your review + star rating, I so appreciate it!

  31. 5 stars
    This is seriously SO good. Much more flavorful than other lentil stews I have made. I also added some kale because I had some on hand. Loved how easy this was and now I have a healthy lunch all week long 🙂

    1. YUM! Kale is such a great addition, Shannon. Thank you so much for sharing your review & star rating, I really appreciate it!

  32. 5 stars
    This was delicious and addictive. I woke up the next day and ate it for breakfast. I will never make another lentil soup!

    1. Ah yay! This is the best, I am so glad you are enjoying this recipe and it was a hit. Thank you for coming back and sharing your review + star rating, I really appreciate it!

  33. 5 stars
    So yummy and hearty, reminds me of chili. I added kale in the last 10 minutes of cooking on the stovetop, per previous reviewer, and it was a great addition. I also used a bit of red lentils. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Ah this sounds delicious, Amy. Kale is such a great addition. Thank you for coming back and sharing your review + star rating, I appreciate it!