Spiced Lentil and Spinach Soup - Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipe

This Ethiopian-style pressure cooker soup adds all of the spices at the beginning of the recipe to flavor the lentils from the inside out (can’t get that from a can ; ). Fresh baby spinach and a squeeze of lemon are added at the very end so the heat wilts the fresh spinach on contact and the lemon keeps its zing.

A heaping tablespoon of Ethiopian berbere spice mix can replace spices (coriander through nutmeg) in this recipe. Or for a stronger kick follow Marcus Samuelsson’s spice mixture from the stew that inspired this soup.

Although I generally recommend soaking beans, lentils are an easy last-minute legume that can be pressure cooked from dry with fewer “consequences”!

See Also: Bean Essentials – Pressure Cooking School


Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger none 10 min. High(2) Natural

4.0 from 1 reviews
North African-Inspired Lentil and Spinach Soup - pressure cooker
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 4-6 Servings
  • Serving size: ⅙th
  • Calories: 75.3
  • TOTAL Fat: 6.1g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 4.1g
  • Sugar Carbs: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 805.1mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 1.6g
  • Protein: 1.6g
  • Cholesterol: 10.4mg
Recipe type: Pressure Cooker
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon clove powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups (500ml) lentils (any kind: brown, green, mini, giant; not split-lentils)
  • 8 cups (2L) water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 6 ounces (170g) fresh spinach or baby spinach (about 4 packed cups)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. Preheat the pressure cooker (by pressing brown/sauté mode).
  2. Add the butter, oil, onion, garlic, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, clove, cayenne, cardamom, and nutmeg. Sauté three minutes. Add the lentils and water.
  3. Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.
  4. Electric pressure cookers and stove top pressure cookers: Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
  5. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural pressure release.
    Electric pressure cookers: Disengage the “keep warm” mode, or unplug the cooker, and open the lid when the pressure indicator/lid-lock has gone down (about 20 to 30 minutes).
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes).
  6. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you. Add the salt and pepper, and mix in the spinach leaves to wilt them into the soup.
  7. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and serve.
For a 3-quart pressure cooker, simply halve all of the ingredients in the recipe and use the same pressure cooking time.

This recipe was originally written by Laura Pazzaglia and published on The Kitchn website in March 2016 – reprinted with permission.

Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Lentil and Spinach Soup Recipe

Similar Posts


  1. I’m definitely going to make this as both my husband and I are HUGE fans of Ethiopian food. Just a little note: subbing a heaping tablespoon of most Berbere spice mixes is going to make the soup considerably hotter and spicier than the spices listed in the recipe. That’s fine for us as we love hot and spicy foods but those who prefer it milder could get an unpleasant surprise.

    1. Thanks for the warning, Beth! You’re right, I made the spice mix in the recipe a “westernized” hot.



  2. God – but add the salt at the outset so it too permeates the lentils so to avoid the result of unseasoned lentils swimming in seasoned broth.

    1. I would be careful when adding salt at the beginning with lentils. It can toughen them and cause them to be too firm at the end of the cooking time.

      1. That’s a myth, a long ago debunked claim. Salt does not toughen ANY legume when used either in the soaking water (if one soaks, in fact it’s a good idea as the salt enters the beans during soaking, seasoning their interiors) and/or at the outset of cooking.

        1. I agree that “toughen” was not the correct term. What I was reaching for, and here I reference Harold McGee is that adding salt at the beginning of cooking will slow, though not inhibit, the softening of the lentil. If McGee is wrong on this point then it would be good info to have.

          1. He’s not wrong. It does slow the softening but it’s pretty immaterial. Here’s a quote for you, from McGee, “Salt does slow the softening of dried beans, but adding it early also gets salt into the bean interior, while adding late leaves most of the salt on or near the surface. If you’re thinking ahead early enough to presoak the beans, salt in the presoaking water actually speeds the cooking, in addition to salting the beans evenly.”

            The same can pretty much be said of salting early in the cooking process if one doesn’t (I never soak legumes of any kind). All though salt might slow softening, having the legumes seasoned throughout is well worth the rather short additional time needed. For legumes you might wish to soak – say, larger beans – skip the overnight bother and do this: Bring 4 quarts water, 3 tablespoons salt, and 1 pound beans to a full boil in large Dutch oven or pot over high heat. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain beans and rinse well. Then proceed with your recipe. (Adjust water/salt/bean ratio if cooking a different amount than 1 pound.)

            1. Thank you for the tip. I am going to try this method. Any recommendation for how one might adjust the salt in the recipe, assuming 1lb, if salt is also absorbed into the bean during the “soak” – is there a rough guideline?

              1. Not a particular one. What I usually do is add about 1/3 of the salt I think it will eventually need – I do this at the outset – and then taste/adjust as needed if cooking conventionally, or simply tasting/adjusting if needed at the end of cooking if using my Instant Pot. If you’re following a recipe and the recipe doesn’t call for soaking with salt but you do, try adding 1/3 of the salt called for in the recipe up front, then taste/adjust as you wish.

          2. My experience has been along the lines of Harold’s as well. It’s a known and proven conundrum that beans soften when salt is added during the soak, but toughen when added during and even at the start of cooking. : )



            1. Sorry, no. As stated above by both me and McGee, salt does not “toughen” beans. It can slow the skins becoming tender but they always do and it adds little to the cooking time.

  3. Do you soak the lentils first?

    1. There’s no need to soak.

  4. This was absolutely delicious. Used less salt and 6c of water as I wanted it thick. I also added some frozen mixed vegetables. A definite keeper. So wuick and easy to make!

  5. Do you have to soak the lentils?

    1. Thanks Kevin, I couldn’t see your reply until I sent the question again. :(

      1. My pleasure. Yes, I find I have to reload the page – sometimes several times – to see all the comments. Weird. Enjoy your day!

    2. Melodee, there is no need to soak the lentils unless you have a specific dietary need or you’re trying to shorten their cooking time to match another ingredient (as in the lentil risotto recipe).



  6. This was fantastic and it is super healthy, too! Thanks for sharing.

  7. This was a fail for me. I made precisely as written and it had zero flavor! I ended up combining a Lot more spices and made it edible but it was watery and lack-luster before that.

  8. I like the looks of this recipe, but wondering how spicy is it? Is it spicy hot? I liked spices in my food, but I don’t like things spicy hot.

    1. This recipe is flavourful, without being hot. In fact the second time I made this I added about 50% more of most of the spices.

    2. To me it is not spicy hot at all. Only the cayenne adds heat here. You could simply eliminate it entirely if you would prefer no heat, the rest of the spices make it spicy – very flavorful – without heat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: