This Hearty Spanish Lentil Soup is a pantry meal that’s warm, cozy, and inviting. It’s also seriously simple, healthy, AND cheap. Grab your Instant Pot, a few pantry staples, and let’s make some Lentejas!
This Spanish Lentil Soup is one of my all-time favorite meals. It’s a pantry-friendly recipe that’s easy, warm, and comforting. It’s perfect for the chilly fall and winter months, or any time you need something homey and delicious.
This recipe is made in just one pot. It’s also quite simple and extremely economical. Oh, and did I mention it’s healthy and can help you eat your recommended legume servings? Let’s make some Instant Pot Lentejas for dinner tonight!
About Lentejas: Though “lentejas” literally means “lentils”, when Spaniards talk about lentejas, they are typically referring to this delicious, popular soup!
Inspiration for this Spanish Lentil Soup
This recipe is inspired by the 5 months I spent studying abroad in Spain. I had SO many kinds of lentejas in Spain and I’ve experimented with various online recipes in the years since then.
In Spain, households have many different ways to make this dish. Recipes can range from soup consistency to stew consistency, depending on how much water is added, if a pressure cooker was used, if it’s been simmering all day, etc. Lentejas can also range in terms of flavor and spice level.
I was fortunate enough to sample this traditional lentil soup in 3 different Spanish homes and at a plethora of restaurants during my time in Spain. Today, I bring you my recipe for delicious, vegan lentejas, made in an Instant Pot!
What’s special about this recipe?
There is something about the warm lentils, the fall-apart-soft vegetables, and the Spanish smoked paprika that just warms you up from the inside. Oh, and don’t forget that it’s an excuse to indulge in some delicious bread on the side!
Part of what makes this recipe so wonderful for me (and my partner who studied abroad with me) is the amazing memories! But it is so much more than that. This Easy Spanish Lentil Soup is fast, economical, and very little work. Yet it tastes warm, homey, and like it’s been cooking for hours.
In Spain, you would typically find a piece of chorizo or some other type of smoked pork product in lentejas. (Did you know that Spain is huge on pork?) To make this recipe easy, vegan, and extra healthy, we are omitting the chorizo, making it oil-free, and using an Instant Pot.
To achieve the delicious Spanish flavor, this recipe calls for plenty of onions, garlic, and spices, including Spanish smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder, and bay leaves. After a good bit of trial and error, I’ve found that the chipotle chili powder is the best mimic for the not-too-spicy, peppery chorizo flavor.
Without further ado, let’s get into the recipe!
About The Ingredients
This lentil soup is so simple and inexpensive. The vegetables and lentils are found easily and cheaply in any supermarket, and the few necessary spices can be found in many large supermarkets, or on Amazon.
Once you have these spices in your cupboard, you can whip up this pantry-friendly meal whenever you’d like, at very little cost. I make this recipe frequently since I usually have everything I need on hand!
- Dried Brown or Green Lentils
- Please don’t substitute any other type of dried lentil. Additionally, please don’t substitute canned brown or green lentils. Other types of lentils will have a very different consistency and cooking time.
- Spanish Smoked Paprika
- Chipotle Chili Powder
- Bay Leaves
- Tomato Paste
How to Make This Easy Spanish Lentil Soup
Lentils and dried beans are extremely economical! Lentils are one of the highest protein legumes, they cook up quickly, and they don’t need any soaking. I typically buy my beans and legumes in bulk because I eat so many of them. (Check out my other bean recipes if you love beans and legumes as much as I do!)
Using an Instant Pot, this soup thickens into a wonderful, hearty stew, that feels like it’s been cooking all day long. In fact, an Instant Pot perfectly replaces the (slightly scary) stove-top pressure cookers that were used in Spain.
This recipe calls for less than 15 minutes of easy, hands-on work. Here’s what you’ll do:
- Sort and rinse your lentils.
- Chop your vegetables. Feel free to leave the peels on your carrots/potatoes and chop the vegetables into large, rustic pieces!
- Quickly dry-saute your onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in the Instant Pot.
- Add your spices and tomato paste to the Instant Pot and allow everything to “toast” for a minute or two.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the Instant Pot and set to cook on High Pressure for 15 minutes.
- After a natural pressure release, stir and enjoy!
What to Serve with Lentil Soup
Since this Spanish Lentil Soup contains healthy spices, hearty vegetables, satisfying potatoes, and protein-packed lentils, it’s a meal in a bowl already. This soup is perfect with a loaf of whole-grain or sourdough bread and a fresh green salad. You could also serve it over rice or a different grain for a less traditional take.
Or, go really Spanish and serve it with some crusty bread and a glass of red wine. 🙂
To serve this soup, allow it to cool for a few minutes so that the lentils thicken up. Then simply bring your pot of Lentejas straight to the table. Ladle the soup into bowls at the table for a cozy, unpretentious, family-style meal.
Leftovers & How to Store
This recipe makes a fairly large batch of soup, making it perfect for one-pot meal prep. In fact, soups are one of my favorite dishes to meal prep since the flavors get even better once they’ve spent some time in the fridge!
Like many lentil recipes, though, this soup will thicken substantially as it sits. To reheat, add a few splashes of water to loosen the lentils up, if necessary. Then reheat on the stove top or in the microwave, per your personal preference.
I hope you love this little taste of Spain!
- 2 cups green or brown lentils, picked over and sorted
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
- 6 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 medium potatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Spanish Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder (feel free to go up to 3/4 tsp or more if you like things spicy)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 7 cups of water
- Rinse your lentils thoroughly under running water and set aside.
- Select the "Saute" button on your Instant Pot.** The Instant Pot will take approximately 5 minutes to heat up and will read "HOT" when it's ready.
- Once hot, add your onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Stir frequently for 3 minutes, until the vegetables are just starting to soften. (Add a splash of water as needed to prevent sticking.)
- Add tomato paste, Spanish smoked paprika, and chipotle chili pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 minutes to coat all of the vegetables. Select "Cancel" to turn the Instant Pot off.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the Instant Pot, stir well, and scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot.
- Close the lid and set the steam release valve to "Sealing". Then select the "Pressure Cook" button and set to cook for 12 minutes at High Pressure.
- Once the cooking time is up, allow the Instant Pot to release pressure naturally. After approximately 30 minutes, the float valve will drop. Turn the steam release valve to "Venting" and open the Instant Pot.
- Stir well, remove bay leaves, and allow to sit for a few minutes to thicken up. Serve your Lentejas piping hot with whole-grain bread and a salad. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the fridge. When reheating, add a bit of water if you'd like a thinner consistency.
**When you select "Saute" on many Instant Pots, "Normal" temperature and 30 minutes are selected automatically. These settings work well for this recipe, so there's no need to try to change any settings. If you've changed your settings for a prior recipe, reset to Normal Saute and 30 minutes.
Spices: The Spanish smoked paprika and chipotle chili powder give this recipe its Spanish flavor. Without them, or with substitutes, you'll still have a tasty meal, but it won't be the same. Try to find both, if possible! Note that there are a lot of uses for both spices for your future cooking as well, including as a topping for potatoes, avocado toast, hummus toast, tofu scramble, etc. They are also great added to chili recipes, veggie burgers, and fajitas.
Salt: Everyone’s salt preference is different, and certain types of salt are "saltier" than others. Feel free to adjust salt at the end to your taste.
Storage: This recipe makes a fairly large batch and is great for healthy, one-pot meal prep. Like many lentil recipes, though, this soup will thicken substantially as it sits. To reheat, simply add a few splashes of water to loosen it up. Then reheat on the stove top or in the microwave, per your personal preference.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 336Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 575mgCarbohydrates: 61gNet Carbohydrates: 0gFiber: 25gSugar: 5.5gSugar Alcohols: 0gProtein: 20.7g
Nutrition information is an estimate only, based on the recipe as written. Data was obtained through MyFitnessPal's recipe creator.
The Background And Science Behind These Ingredients
- “Although used interchangeably, the terms “legumes,” “pulses,” and “beans” have distinct meanings.” No matter what you call them, be sure to eat them!
- An overview of the benefits of beans and a recommendation to eat beans and/or whole grains at every meal
- Beans are a great source of fiber, and “fiber is the key to good health”
- A scientific description of garlic’s health benefits, including anticancer and antimicrobial properties
- A close look at various cooking methods and their effect on nutrients. Hint: pressure cooking seems to be beneficial!
What do you think?
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you make this recipe, then please leave a comment and rating. I would love to hear what you think and how it worked out for you!
Don’t forget to check out my other Instant Pot recipes as well!