Dairy-Free, Entrée, Gluten-Free, Instant Pot, Meal Prep, One Pot Dish, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

Lemony Protein-Packed & Plant-Based Soup (Instant Pot)

I may be the only person enjoying April’s cold spell last month. It was a great time to meal prep lunch recipes for work and sample some hot soups. I quite enjoyed this take on a plant-based soup that with the addition of lentils, is packed with protein. Harissa adds a unique flavor and spice along with lemon, ginger, cumin, and turmeric. Using the Instant Pot, this Lemony Lentil & Butternut Squash Soup is rich and creamy without any added dairy and comes together quickly, easily cooking the carrots. squash, and lentils. It’s the soup you need when you’re looking forward to spring on a crisp day.

Ingredients (serves 6-8).

  • 2 t light olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 T)
  • 1 T + 3 T harissa *
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 6 c vegetable stock
  • 4 c butternut squash, cubed (how to easily peel & cube here)
  • 1½ c red lentils
  • 3 medium rainbow carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Salt to taste
  • Almond slivers, divided
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
NOTE: taste your Harissa before adding! Trader Joe’s version is quite spicy, but others like Mina (pictured) are mild. Add in to taste and your desired spice level.


  1. In an Instant Pot, select “Sauté,” add oil, garlic, onions, and ginger, and cook until onions are tender. Add 1 T harissa, all cumin, and turmeric, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 sec.
  2. Pour in broth, butternut squash, and lentils. Secure lid, seal, and set to “Pressure Cook” for 15 min. When time is done, vent and release steam.
  3. Carefully transfer *hot* liquid to a blender and purée until smooth. You may need to let the soup cool before transferring, and remove the top of the lid/cover with a dish towel to release steam when blending.
    • You can also use an immersion blender instead, but I like the consistency of the blender.
  4. Transfer back to Instant Pot and stir in fresh lemon juice and remaining 3 T of harissa. Add salt and season to taste.
  5. Dish up 1½ c of soup with 1 T slivered almonds, 1 T chopped fresh cilantro, and extra harissa if desired.
  6. Enjoy!

Adapted from Real Simple‘s “Red Lentil Squash Soup with Lemon.”

Nutrition for 1½ c serving (not including salt to taste).
344 calories  •  6.5 g fat (20%)  •  46 g carbs (62%)  •  13.8 g protein (18%)  •  8.8 g fiber  •  8.9 g sugar  •  127.1 mg sodium
* These are estimates based off specific products I used and how I entered ingredients in a fitness tracker. This is completely subjective and used to give a rough nutritional estimate.

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