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Instant Pot Italian Hearty Lentil Stew

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This Italian Hearty Lentil Stew is loaded with spices and vegetables like carrots, celery, and spinach. It’s perfect perfect for chilly nights and is so easy to throw together!

Photo showing close up of stew in instant pot before cooking, and white bowl of cooked hearty lentil stew.

This hearty lentil stew recipe is perfect for…
• Vegetarians and vegans
• Those looking for a Meatless Monday recipe
• Anyone trying to cut down on their grocery bill since meatless recipes are so budget-friendly!

Like many stew recipes, this lentil stew is really adaptable. You could add chopped sweet potatoes or golden potatoes, you could sub chopped kale for the spinach, or you could use brown lentils instead of the standard green and red.

The base recipe is a perfectly spiced, thick soup that’s super satisfying even with no meat involved. And a squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds a touch of brightness to the soup.

Tips for cooking lentils in the instant pot

Lentils are a plant-protein rich grain that are versatile, can be used in curries, patties, sauté and much much more. Unlike cooking lentils on the stove, you don’t need to soak lentils in advance when you make them in the Instant Pot. Another benefit is that you don’t have to watch the lentils to make sure they don’t burn or get too mushy. You can simply toss all the ingredients into the Instant Pot, walk away, go take a nap, and come back after the pressure has been released. 

  • Take 2 cups of liquid for 1 cup of dry lentil when cooking in instant pot. You can add turmeric, salt, and veggies such as tomatoes while cooking the lentils in instant pot.
  • Depending on the quantity of the lentils, the cooking time in the instant pot may range from 5-20 minutes.
  • Once the cooking time is over, allow the instant pot to come to a low temperature with natural pressure release. This helps to cook the lentils till super tender.
Photo showing ingredients for instant pot hearty italian stew.

What You’ll Need to Make Italian Hearty Lentil Stew

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 c. green lentils
  • 3/4 c. red lentils
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 c. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 c. baby spinach

How to make Italian Hearty Lentil Stew

  1. Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and after a few minutes, add the olive oil. Once the oil has heated up, add the onion. Cook until the onion is browned and completely soft, 6 to 8 minute
  2. Add the celery, carrots and garlic along with italian seasoning, thyme, kosher salt, and black pepper to taste. Cook until the carrots are just starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, lentils, potatoes and stir gently. Then pour the crushed tomatoes on top, but don’t stir (the tomatoes will get incorporated during the pressure cooking). Select the Cancel setting. 
  4. Secure the lid and set the valve to Sealing (not Venting). Select the Pressure Cook setting (or Manual setting on older models) at high pressure and set the cook time to 10 minutes.
  5. Once the 10-minute timer has completed and beeps, do a natural pressure release.
  6. Open the pot and stir in the spinach.

Health benefits of lentils

Lentils actually have a LOT to offer—so yes, they are pretty good for you. They’re low in fat, extremely nutrient-dense, and generally pretty affordable to buy (always a plus when you’re in between paychecks). And they pack in a lot of health benefits, including:

1. They’re full of polyphenols. Polyphenols are active compounds that fight against harmful agents in the body—everything from ultraviolet rays and radiation to heart disease and cancer. So yeah, they’re a big deal. Lentils are a great way to get your polyphenol fix (they have more than fellow legumes green peas and chickpeas), and have been linked to long-lasting health benefits, including cardiovascular health and diabetes prevention.

2. They’re high in protein. Good news, vegans: One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein. You’d have to eat a whole can of chickpeas to get that much of the nutrient. (Pro tip: aim to get between 50 and 75 grams a day.)

3. They’re a good source of iron. One cup of lentils also has 6.6 milligrams of iron, which is about one-third of what you need for the entire day. Iron is super important for keeping oxygen pumping throughout your body. If you don’t get enough, that blood flow slows down.

4. They’re full of fiber. Virtually every RD loves to preach about the importance of fiber—especially related to digestive health and healthy weight maintenance. One cup of lentils has 15.6 grams of it, which is actually almost four times as much as a cup of raw kale.

5. Lentils are good for your bones. When it comes to bone health, dairy-laden products tend to hog the spotlight, but lentils are a great option too with 38 grams of calcium per cup. Good to know, vegans!

6. They’re a good source of folic acid. Folic acid is an important nutrient to load up on all the time, but it’s especially important when you’re pregnant. Not getting enough can lead to serious birth defects. And even if pregnancy is not on your mind, folic acid supports healthy hair growth and can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Scientists have found lentils to be a great, well-absorbed dietary source of folic acid, particularly for women who are pregnant or hope to be pregnant soon.

7. They’re high in magnesium. If you have trouble sleeping, are stressed or overworked, your body could benefit from regular consumption of magnesium—and lentils can be a great source at 71 mg per cup of cooked lentils.

Italian Hearty Lentil Stew

Italian Hearty Lentil Stew

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Italian Hearty Lentil Stew is loaded with spices and vegetables like carrots, celery, and spinach. It’s perfect perfect for chilly nights and is so easy to throw together!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 c. green lentils
  • 3/4 c. red lentils
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 c. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 c. baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and after a few minutes, add the olive oil. Once the oil has heated up, add the onion. Cook until the onion is browned and completely soft, 6 to 8 minute
  2. Add the celery, carrots and garlic along with italian seasoning, thyme, kosher salt, and black pepper to taste. Cook until the carrots are just starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, lentils, potatoes and stir gently. Then pour the crushed tomatoes on top, but don't stir (the tomatoes will get incorporated during the pressure cooking). Select the Cancel setting. 
  4. Secure the lid and set the valve to Sealing (not Venting). Select the Pressure Cook setting (or Manual setting on older models) at high pressure and set the cook time to 10 minutes.
  5. Once the 10-minute timer has completed and beeps, do a natural pressure release.
  6. Open the pot and stir in the spinach.

Notes

Serve with yogurt, lemon wedges and parsley, if desired.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 126Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 565mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 13g

Did you make this recipe?

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Joining Sarah and Deborah for Meatless Monday today.

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