Curried Lentil Soup (Instant Pot)

Rich, creamy Curried Lentil Soup is a delicious vegan meal in a bowl. Lentils, curry, tomato sauce, coconut milk, garlic, ginger and cilantro are the stars of this instant pot soup.

Lentils are seeds in the legume family. They come in different colors - brown, black, green, red, yellow and orange. We're using red, yellow or orange lentils because they are split and break down quickly.

Curried Lentil Soup in bowl garnished with cilantro

This curried lentil soup is a cross between Indian and Thai flavors that include coconut milk, cilantro, curry powder and red curry paste. OK, that may sound a bit odd, but it works. You can make it as spicy or as mellow as you like. In fact, there are many variations you can try. I've listed a few below.

This soup is healthy

  • Lentils are highly nutritious with 19 grams of protein and almost 16 grams of fiber per cooked cup. They are also low in calories and fat (but high in carbs) and packed with B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and potassium.
  • No wonder they are considered an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians or those of us trying to cut back on meat.
  • Also keep in mind that the recipe is both dairy free and gluten free.

You can serve the soup as a starter or make it a complete meal in a bowl. It's delicious served with warm Naan or any fresh bread.

If you like lentils, also try our very popular Red Lentil Vegetable Soup. Or how about our Vegetarian Split Pea Soup which uses a different variety of legume.

Tailor To Your Taste

Here's a few variations you could try:

Add vegetables:

  • Diced carrots and celery would be great to add during the initial saute phase.
  • I also add baby spinach for color and nutrition at the end.

Thick or thin

  • To alter the body, change the liquid ratios. I use tomato sauce, water (or broth) and coconut milk. About 6 cups in total.
  • If you like your soup less creamy and mellow, reduce the coconut milk and increase the tomato sauce.
  • If you want a thinner soup (this one is quite thick), add more broth or water at the end.


  • I use use red curry paste (my brand was not too spicy) and red chili flakes. Start with less and add more as you like.

Seasoning options

  • I love cilantro but I know many people hate it. So leave it out if you prefer or serve it just as a garnish for those who like it.
  • You can also try adding a pinch of garam masala, cumin and/or turmeric. Now you're turning it into Indian-Thai-Middle Eastern mix!


  • The lentils in the recipe break down fairly quickly. You can cook them a little less to maintain more body to the lentils.  I like them mushy.
  • Alternatively, if you prefer a smooth soup, puree it (adding the spinach, if using, after).


  • Try chopped cilantro, lemon, lime or chopped green onion.

No Instant Pot?

  • No problem. Use the same instructions for the stovetop. Simmer the soup covered, instead of pressure cook, for 30-40 minutes to get the texture and thickness you like.

Make Ahead 

  • Keep the soup in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze it for up to 6 months.

Other healthy vegetable soup recipes you might like

How to make Curried Lentil Soup (instant pot)

coconut milk, tomato sauce, orange lentils, onion, ginger, garlic, cilantro, oil, red curry paste on cutting board
ingredients (not including broth or water, salt and pepper)
onions, garlic, curry paste and seasonings sauteed in instant pot
Saute onions, garlic, curry powder, red curry paste, ginger
Curried Lentil Soup in instant pot finished cooking dded
Curried lentil soup before final ingredients added
Curried Lentil Soup in instant pot finished cooking with coconut milk cilantro and spinach added but not yet stirred in
Add spinach, coconut milk, cilantror
Curried Lentil Soup in instant pot finished cooking with coconut milk cilantro and spinach added
Stir to complete soup

Curried Lentil Soup in pot with ladle scooping some out

Curried Lentil Soup in bowl garnished with cilantro 1

Curried Lentil Soup in a bowl garnished with chopped cilantro

Curried Lentil Soup in bowl garnished with cilantro
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4.84 from 12 votes

Curried Lentil Soup

Rich, creamy Curried Lentil Soup is a delicious vegan meal in a bowl. Lentils, curry, tomato sauce, coconut milk, garlic, ginger and cilantro are the stars of this instant pot soup.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time22 mins
Time to pressure8 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course, soups and starters
Cuisine: Indian style, Thai-Style, vegan
Servings: 4 -5
Author: Cheryl


  • Instant Pot (I use a 6 quart)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium-large onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (3 tsp)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder (mild or medium)
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (or sub extra chili flakes)
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • ¾ cup red, yellow or orange split lentils, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more if using low salt broth or water)
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 cups tomato sauce e.g. marinara
  • 1 ½ cups water or broth (chicken or vegetable) PLUS another 1-1.5 cups to thin it out at the end as needed
  • 1 13-14 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk Note 1

Optional but good

  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • cup chopped fresh cilantro

Garnish options

  • lemon or lime wedges, additional chopped cilantro, chopped green onion


  • PRESS SAUTE BUTTON ON INSTANT POT: and heat to "HOT". Chop veggies while heating. (See Note 2 for stove top version)
  • SAUTE VEGGIES AND SEASONINGS: Add oil, then onions. Saute for 3 minutes, stirring until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, curry paste, curry, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Saute, stirring for another 3 minutes. Press CANCEL button on instant pot.
  • ADD LENTILS AND LIQUID. COOK: Stir in lentils, tomato sauce and water (or broth). Close Instant Pot lid and set valve to 'SEALING', then set PRESSURE OR MANUAL button on High for 15 minutes - or 12 minutes if you prefer lentils less soft (use + or - buttons). The Instant Pot will take about 5-7 minutes to come to pressure depending on size of pot before it starts the 15 minute cooking process. When finished (it will beep), do quick pressure release by turning valve to VENT. When button drops, you can open the lid. Turn Instant Pot to OFF.
  • FINISH LENTIL SOUP: Add coconut milk and, if using, spinach and cilantro. Stir 1 minute until combined and spinach is wilted. If soup is too thick, add more water or broth. If too thin, press SAUTE and cook for a few minutes until soup is the consistency you like. Taste and adjust seasonings. Ladle into bowls and add garnishes as desired.


  1. Coconut Milk: Use less coconut milk if you want a lower calorie soup or if you prefer a more tomato-y base. You can also use light coconut milk which is less rich.
  2. Stovetop version: Use the same instructions as above, but simmer the soup for 30-40 minutes in a pot (instead of pressure cooking in the instant pot) until you get the texture and thickness you like.
  3. Make Ahead: Keep soup in the fridge in a sealed container for 3-4 days or freeze it for up to 6 months.


Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Sodium: 1298mg | Potassium: 1305mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 4126IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 7mg
Tried this recipe?We'd love you to rate it above under 'rate this recipe' or in the comment section below. Thanks!

This soup was inspired by an old recipe from Epicurious. 


  1. Ty very much, sorry i was talking about plastic soup mugs which are about 500-600mls not 240ml US cup measurement
    This is our favourite instant pot soup so far 😁

  2. Very good. I kept getting a burn notice so I just finished it on the stove. Any suggestions on how to avoid the lentils burning on the bottom?

    1. Hi Maria. Sorry to hear about your burn message. Hard to say why that happened. You did the right thing by switching to the stovetop. You could have tried adding a bit more liquid (especially if you are using an 8 quart pot), but that doesn't always work. Sometimes it just happens. Here are the 7 most common reasons from Amy and Jack pressure cook recipes.
      Here are the 7 common reasons that trigger the Instant Pot Burn Message:

      Not enough liquid in the Instant Pot.
      The liquid in Instant Pot is too thick.
      Pressure cook cream of milk directly in the Instant Pot.
      Did not deglaze the bottom of the inner pot.
      Forgot to turn the venting knob to sealing position.
      Steam is leaking from the silicone sealing ring.
      Objects are stuck under the inner pot above the heating element.

      As far as preventing the burn message goes, there are a number of suggestions from experienced instant pot experts, but none really apply to this recipe. They are: following a tested recipe (you did), scraping the pot after browning (you do this when adding the liquids), avoid thickeners before cooking on high pressure, diluting or delaying adding dairy (which we did in this recipe). I hope some of this information will help the next time or in future IP recipes 🙂

      1. 4 stars
        I got a burn notice in my 6 quart and moved it to the stove top. But, except for that, this soup is absolutely DELICIOUS!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this soup last night, its so tasty!
    Loved the kick the chili flakes made, and the coconut milk topped it off.
    I neglected to use light coconut milk, but will next time to lower the saturated fat content, otherwise I’m going to be eating it for a few days…..oh and so very easy to make..

    1. It is an easy one. Glad you liked it. If you want to lower the fat content, you can also use a bit less regular coconut milk instead of light coconut milk. Enjoy!

  4. 5 stars
    Love love love the curried lentil soup and oh so easy in the instapit or whatever pressure cooker one has
    I added maple syrup for extra sweetness
    Made it twice over the weekend

    1. Has anyone tried doubling the recipe with same cooking time? Want to make to freeze for me and hubby and only makes 3 soup cups full

      1. Hi Barbara. Those must be big cups you’re using! The recipe should make at least 6 cups.

        As for doubling the recipe, you should be fine since the coconut milk liquid is only added after the pressure cooking. Just make sure your IP isn’t filled more that half way (since lentils expand). With an 8 quart, no problem. With a 6 quart, probably ok. Cooking time will be the same. Hope that helps.

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