Nothing warms you up on a cold day like a steaming bowl of Instant Pot Lentil Barley Soup. This whole-grain barley soup packed with chock-full of colorful vegetables and hearty lentils all simmered into a flavorsome broth elevates this soup from an accompaniment into a well-balanced weeknight meal.
Serve with freshly baked garlic knots and it will soon become a family favorite! Both crock-pot and stove-top instructions included!
Instant Pot soups
If you have been following my blog for a while, you already know that I am an avid fan of one-pot soups. Whether it be Instant Pot Thai butternut squash soup, Instant Pot Pasta E Fagioli soup, or Spiced corn soup ( Makai ka shorba), I love my Instant Pot.
I feel Instant Pot is the perfect kitchen tool to make simple weeknight meals. It’s an electric pressure cooker that can be a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, a sauté pan, and yogurt maker all in one and not to mention, fewer dishes to clean.
Now, to join the list of my Instant pot meals, here comes one more vegan soup – Instant pot Lentil barley soup that I make so often during winters.
Why? Because it is packed with all the “feel-good” clean eating ingredients that are both fresh and soul-satisfying!
So, if you’re looking for a soup that is nutrient-dense and wholesome, then this soup is just for you! It gets its creaminess from the red lentils, and the addition of chewy, tender pearled barley makes it pleasantly filling and satisfying. It’s the perfect soup to combat the winter chills.
Reasons You’ll ♡ this Instant Pot Lentil Barley Soup
Lately, I’ve been loving this barley soup for so many reasons –
- Requires simple ingredients
- Made from scratch without any preservatives
- Remarkably comforting soup
- Easily customizable
- Perfect as a weeknight meal
- Reheats and freezes well too.
I think I like this recipe because of its simplicity and the nourishment this soup provides.
Ingredients for Instant Pot Lentil Barley Soup
This ingredient list for Barley lentil vegetable soup is relatively short, and it comes together quickly with no complicated ingredients or procedures to follow.
» Olive Oil — I have used olive oil; however, you can add any mild flavor oil of your choice.
» Bay Leaf — Dried bay leaf adds a slightly sweet yet tea-like sort of flavor. This reasonably mild leaf will enhance and brighten up other, bolder flavors.
» Onions and garlic — This Instant Pot lentil barley soup is flavored with fresh garlic and onions that build the foundation of this soup.
» Vegetables — A wide array of vegetables such as carrots, celery, corn, and red bell pepper add texture, intense flavor, color, and nutrient content to this soup.
» Lentils — I have used hulled red lentils because they cook quicker than most other lentils and disintegrate during the cooking process, which gives this soup a thick, almost creamy, and hearty texture – which I love the most.
» Barley — I have used pearled barley for my lentil vegetable soup. It is a whole grain packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It has a nutty flavor and lends a slightly chewy texture when cooked.
» Worcestershire Sauce — optional but adds a great taste to our soup. Trust me, and just a little sauce goes a long way.
» Herbs and seasonings — Italian Seasoning, cumin powder, paprika, salt, and pepper are all that I have used. Italian seasoning gives this soup a distinct herbal flavor and aroma. Paprika and cumin powder will add warm and subtle flavor.
» Vegetable Stock — Since it’s a vegan soup, I have added low-sodium vegetable stock. The non-vegan option would be the addition of chicken broth or stock for a little extra flavor.
» Lime juice — A little squeeze of lime juice at the end will brighten up the overall flavor deliciously.
» Fresh Cilantro for garnish — Fresh herbs are a great way to finish the soup. In addition to that, it adds a lovely color and a refreshing taste.
How to make Instant Pot Lentil Barley Soup
This section walks you through a detailed step-by-step recipe with pictures. For the FULL, printable recipe card, please scroll down to the bottom of this post.
» Rinse the lentils and barley — Before you begin, check the lentils for small stones. Take a fine-meshed sieve and rinse the lentils and barley (separately) under cold running water to clean any dirt or dust. Set it aside to drain.
» Cook the aromatics — Turn the Instant Pot to ‘Saute mode.’ Once it displays ‘hot,’ add oil to the insert. Add bay leaves and garlic. Sauté for a minute or until fragrant.
» Add the Mirepoix — Add chopped onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Add carrots, corn, and celery – cook for another minute. Add bell peppers and give the ingredients a good mix.
FYI— Mirepoix is a french term use for a combination of aromatic vegetables such as onion, carrot, and celery. It’s the flavor foundation for soups and stews.
» Add lentils — Now add the rinsed lentils and pearled barley to the Instant Pot insert. Add Italian seasoning, cumin powder, paprika, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and vegetable stock. Give the ingredients a good stir. Don’t forget to deglaze the base of the insert.
PROTIP — Deglazing the insert removes all the brown bits stuck to the base. Scrape everything from the base to prevent the burn message.
Turn the Instant Pot off. Close the lid and seal the pot. Press the Manual or pressure cook button and cook the Instant Pot Barley lentil Soup for 20 minutes on HIGH.
PROTIP — It will take about 10 minutes for the pressure to build than the actual cooking time.
Once the cooking time has elapsed, turn the steam valve to the venting position to quickly release the pressure. When the pin drops, carefully open the lid.
» Adjust the consistency — Barley has absorbed the liquid in the soup, and because of that, your soup will be too thick. Adjust the consistency of the soup by adding an extra ½ cup of vegetable stock. Add more liquid if you prefer, and thin out the soup to your liking.
Turn the Instant Pot ON and allow the soup to simmer for 4-5 minutes on the Sauté setting. Add lemon juice and mix again.
» Serve — Adjust the seasonings if needed. Garnish with cilantro leaves, scallions, and serve warm.
Tips and Variations
» If not vegan, you can use a combination of oil and butter for added flavor and rich taste.
» The beauty of this soup is that you can get as creative as possible and tailor the soup to your needs. Use the vegetables that are your family favorites. I personally love the combination of sweet-earthy veggies that I have added to this barley lentil soup. Still, if some of these veggies don’t suit your palette, the other ones to add to the list are
- Green beans
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potatoes
- Spinach. Though fresh vegetables taste great, you can use frozen vegetables for convenience.
» You can substitute red lentils with brown or green lentils. They will work too.
» A can of drained and rinsed hearty beans such as white cannellini beans, pinto beans, or red kidney beans will be a great addition to this Instant Pot barley lentil soup.
» Make sure you use pearled barley and not hulled barley for this recipe. Pearled barley is the polished version of hulled barley which takes longer to cook, whereas pearled barley (softer yet less dense texture) will get cooked along with your veggies in the Instant Pot.
» If you prefer a spicy soup, try cajun seasoning to spice up the flavor.
» This recipe calls for 5 cups of vegetable stock. You can substitute veggie stock with water, or another option is to mix it up and use 2½ of vegetable stock and 2½ cups of water.
Frequently asked questions
Can I substitute Barley?
You sure can! Just a reminder – barley is not gluten-free. If you are not a barley fan, gluten-free grains such as brown rice, millet, farro, quinoa, amaranth, or buckwheat groats can be used as a substitute in this soup.
Can I make this soup on the stove top?
You most certainly can make this Lentil barley and vegetable soup on the stovetop! Use a dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pan for this recipe.
- Heat the pan over medium heat and sauté all the vegetables, leaving the bell peppers for last.
- Cook the vegetables for a minute or so, not over that. I prefer my vegetables to have a nice al dente bite.
- Add the rinsed lentils, barley, and all the liquid.
- Bring it to a boil.
- Now, reduce the heat and allow the barley vegetable soup to simmer for about 30-35 minutes or until the barley is tender and soft.
- Add red bell peppers, lime juice and let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the flavors meddle together.
- Serve warm garnished with chopped cilantro leaves.
Slow cooker instructions
This lentil barley vegetable soup is super easy to make in the slow cooker. Add all the ingredients except the lime juice and red bell peppers to make it in the slow-cooker. Turn the slow-cooker ON on the low setting for 6 hours or until the barley is tender and soft.
PROTIP — For the slow cooker version, you will need extra vegetable stock. Add a full 7 cups of vegetable stock to the slow cooker insert.
Once the cooking time has elapsed, add lime juice, red bell peppers, more stock if needed, and cook for another 45 minutes, and then serve warm garnished with chopped cilantro leaves.
This Instant Pot Lentil Barley soup is filling enough to serve on its own, but if you prefer to serve it as a side, then you can pair it up with your favorite bread or a salad. We polish this soup off with –
- Focaccia bread
- Easy garlic knots
- Pull apart garlic rolls – they are all excellent choices for dunking into your soup.
A southwestern black bean and corn salad would be a great choice, too – a light and refreshing side dish!
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!
This simple yet wholesome soup with subtle flavors is super satisfying and filling. Best of all, you can tweak it up, jazz it; however, your heart desires and will taste delicious.
Should you make this Instant Pot Lentil barley soup, please let me know your thoughts by sharing your comment below.
And don’t forget to share it with your family and friends.
MORE COMFORTING INSTANT POT RECIPES THAT YOU’LL LOVE!
Instant Pot Lentil Barley Soup
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 – Bay Leaf
- 1 teaspoon Garlic minced
- 1 medium Onion chopped
- ¼ cup Carrot finely diced
- ½ cup Corn Kernels
- ⅓ cup Red Bell pepper finely diced
- 2 small stalk Celery finely diced
- ¼ cup Red Lentils rinsed
- 1 cup Pearled Barley
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce vegan
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- ¾ teaspoon Cumin powder
- – – Salt and Pepper to taste
- 5 cups Vegetable Stock
- 1 tablespoon Lime juice
- – – Chopped Cilantro Leaves
- Before you begin, check the lentils for small stones. Take a fine-meshed sieve and rinse the lentils under cold running water to clean any dirt or dust. Set it aside to drain.
- Likewise, rinse barley under cold running water to clean any dirt or dust. Set it aside to drain.
- Turn the Instant Pot to ‘Saute mode.’ Once it displays ‘hot,’ add oil to the insert. Add bay leaves and garlic.
- Sauté for a minute or until fragrant.
- Add chopped onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are soft and translucent.
- Add carrots, corn, and celery – cook for another minute. Add bell peppers and give the ingredients a good mix.
- Now add the rinsed lentils and barley to the Instant Pot insert.
- Add Italian seasoning, cumin powder, paprika, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and vegetable stock. Give the ingredients a good stir. Don’t forget to deglaze the base of the insert.
- Turn the Instant Pot off. Close the lid and seal the pot. Press the Manual or pressure cook button and cook the Instant Pot barley lentil soup for 20 minutes on HIGH.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, turn the steam valve to the venting position to quickly release the pressure. When the pin drops, carefully open the lid. Adjust the consistency of the soup by adding an extra ½ cup of vegetable stock. Add more liquid if you prefer, and thin out the soup to your liking.
- Turn the Instant pot ON and allow the soup to simmer for 4-5 minutes on the Sauté setting. Add lemon juice and mix again.
- Adjust the seasonings if needed. Garnish with cilantro leaves, scallions, and serve warm.