Lentil and brown rice soup recipe + Instant Pot version - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Lentil and brown rice soup recipe + Instant Pot version

lentil and brown rice soup | pamela salzman
Everyone needs a lentil soup recipe in the repertoire.  This is a classic and a nourishing one at that.  I grew up on lentil soup and my mom was into creating “complete proteins” when we had a vegetarian meal.  The thought back then was that if you were eating a meatless meal, then you would need to combine certain foods to create the same complete protein profile as animal protein.   Now we know that it is not necessary to eat those complementary foods in the same dish to gain the benefits of consuming all the essential amino acids, but I still adore the combination of lentils and brown rice in my soup.

brown rice and lentil soup | pamela salzman

I prefer to use French lentils, which hold their shape much better than the flat brown ones, but really you can use what you’ve got.  I vary this soup often, sometimes adding a few chopped up green beans or a teaspoon of ground cumin for an earthy twist.  I always throw in a few handfuls of dark green leafies at the end, spinach and kale being my favorites.  And tomatoes only get to join the party if they’re in season since I almost never buy canned tomatoes (ugh, aluminum.)  Try garnishing with freshly grated pecorino-romano, it adds a great zest to the soup.

lentil and brown rice soup | pamela salzman

For you lunchbox-packers out there, lentil soup is fabulous the next day in a thermos.  And the kiddos get a lunch that will provide stable blood sugar levels, great protein for the brain, and long-lasting energy.

brown rice and lentil soup | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
lentil and brown rice soup + Instant Pot version*
Serves: 8
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or 1 14.5-ounce can, drained ( I used ½ box Pomi)
  • 8 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, turkey stock, or water
  • 2 cups French lentils, picked over and rinsed (you can use whatever lentils you can find, such as black or Puy, but note that cook times may vary)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 big handfuls spinach, kale or chard (ribs removed), coarsely chopped in large pieces
  • ½ cup brown rice, cooked according to package directions or add with lentils and increase liquid by an additional 1 cup
  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook, stirring until tender. Stir in tomatoes and cook for a minute. Add stock, lentils, uncooked brown rice (if you’re adding it here), thyme and 2 teaspoons salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Pull out the thyme sprigs and discard. Add greens and stir until wilted.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you didn’t add raw brown rice to the pot with your lentils, add the cooked brown rice to the pot now or put a little in each bowl and ladle the soup on top.
*To make in the Instant Pot:
Press the "saute" button and wait a couple minutes for the insert to heat up. Add the oil, carrots, celery, onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute.
Add stock, lentils (I tested with French green and black), raw brown rice, thyme and salt. Press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button to turn the machine off. Secure the lid on top of the insert and lock closed. Make sure the vent is closed. Press manual and make sure it's on High Pressure. I cooked it for 12 minutes and thought that was perfect. The Instant Pot will take a few minutes to come up to pressure, so it will say ON for a few minutes. Once the machine is done cooking, you can manually release the pressure or opt for natural release. Check the manual for an explanation of both.



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  1. This soup is so good. It’s on our fall/winter rotation and i haven’t made it in months but tonight my 2, r, and 7 year olds all ate it right up and said how much they love it. I always add a splash of sherry vinegar and EVOO on top, along with Maldon salt flakes. Sooooo delish. Thank you!

    • Vinegar is an absolute winner here – nice addition. I have to say, this is my (picky) son’s most favorite soup. I make it every other week starting now through the spring!

  2. I was looking forward to making this tonight and was soooo excited to see the instapot directions. It turned out fabulous!!! Family enjoyed it. I added the extra liquid and rice, so I would caution readers with the amount of liquid in here to let it natural release for a while to avoid splattering :). I let it natural release for 15 minutes and that worked for me, just FYI. Once again we enjoyed a delicious dinner thanks to you Pamela!

  3. Hi, if you want to skip the brown rice, do you need to make any adjustments?

    • Just omit it and no need to adjust 🙂

  4. I made this soup this week and it was super good. I also loved the salad. I forgot how much I really like red cabbage. I have put it in every salad this past week. 🙂 My kids loved it too but my husband was a little iffy on the texture. He has never had lentils before. I froze the leftovers and I can’t wait to eat it again.

    • I think red cabbage is so underestimated. It’s so nutritious and I love the crunch and color it adds to salads!

  5. Unbelievably delicious – and easy!! Thanks for the recipe. How do you store it in the freezer and how long does it last in the fridge. I put half in a glass mason jar and it cracked 🙁 Maybe I filled it too high so it didn’t have room to expand.

    • Freezer up to 3 months and fridge 3 days. I know it would last up to 5 days in the fridge, but it starts to lose its life force so less time is better. If you want to freeze in glass, you can’t fill up to the top because the soup will expand. Freeze it without a lid and when it seems frozen sold, then put the lid on. Also, I haven’t problems with mason jars cracking, but I don’t have any luck freezing glass jars from Vegenaise, yogurt, etc. 🙁

      • Thanks Pamela – I will try that next time! I was SO sad when I had to throw out TWO HUGE MASON JARS of that delicious soup 🙁

        Even my picky-eater of a husband loves it and can’t wait til I make more!!!!!

  6. I made this soup last week and it is amazing. My 12 year old son requested it again. This recipe with become a regular on our table. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Oh good! Lentils are so great for the kids. I’m so happy my picky son loves them. I hope you have success with more of my recipes!!

  7. Yum!! Made it last night and my kids even ate it 🙂

    • Lentils are amazing for kids! So happy that they enjoyed. Thanks, Valerie!

  8. You inspired me. I’m making this right now — it smells so good cooking on the stove. It is super easy too.
    I didn’t have french lentils and used the bigger green/brown ones. Do I need to make any adjustments?

    • No adjustments needed, Lynette. Perfect for today’s chilly, rainy weather!

  9. One of my favorites. Even as a consummate meat eater, this soup is fantastic and filling. Thumbs up from a carnivore.

  10. Lentil soup is my very favorite, and I enjoy experimenting.
    Your recipe is excellent, a great combination of ingredients. My variation on the theme eliminated the tomatoes, green vegetable and thyme, and substituted 1 cup
    uncooked, chopped cauliflower, 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans, 1 cup dry white wine, and 1/2 (or to taste) tsp. turmeric. Brown rice is optional. What do you think?

    • I think that sounds amazing! It probably turns out a bit yellow from the turmeric, right? I’m going to try it this weekend. Thank you for sharing your spin on lentil soup. Love it that!

  11. My 5 year old grandson requests this soup all the time! It’s delicious, filling, healthy and so very easy to make. Talk about “comfort food”…it’s perfect!

  12. This is a great recipe. We eat the soup with grilled cheese and it is very filling. The first time, I could not find the french lentils and it still was very good with the regular lentils I found at Whole Foods. I make a big batch and it stores well in the fridge. Sooooo easy to make.

  13. I made this soup in Mammoth over the holidays and it was the perfect healthy snack after coming back from a full day of skiing. it warmed us all up and didn’t make us feel so full that we couldnt eat dinner later. So easy to make and delicious. Winner in our house.

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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