Pressure Cooker Lentil Barley Soup

This Red Lentil Barley Soup Recipe Makes a Hearty Meal


I got the idea of adding barley to lentils from a recipe on the back of the bag of lentils. I never would have thought of it without seeing it on the bag, although my recipe is quite different from the one on the bag.


A meal in itself, as they say. This fiber-packed soup with warming North African influenced spices is sure to keep you warm on a chilly night.

I made this using my relatively new Instant Pot (this one right here), which I am liking more all the time, but should translate just fine to a stovetop model.

Barley_Lentil_Chopped_VegBut I must admit, I am having trouble getting very excited about waxing enthusiastically about a hearty, stick to your ribs soup today.

It is definitely not because this isn’t a really tasty soup, because it is quite tasty. It’s because today in SoCal we aren’t having quite what you would call “soup weather’.

As I am writing this on my phone, I am sitting in my local pub wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt with a cold one in front of me, just to get a break from my hot, non-air conditioned apartment.


When I cooked this earlier this week, it was a chilly, rainy day. Today it is 83 degrees with nary a cloud to be seen. Such is life in Southern California, but it is my job to bravely press on.


I myself am not a vegetarian (not that there’s anything wrong with that), so I used some chicken Better Than Bouillon that I already had on hand, but this can easily be made as a vegetarian or even vegan dish (just leave out the feta cheese at the end and Bob’s your uncle!)

Start out by sautéing the onions in a couple tablespoons of oil. When the onions start to become translucent, add the garlic to the party and continue to stir for a couple more minutes.

Now, add those carrots and the celery and sauté for a few minutes

Introduce the spices and sauté for another minute

Now it is time for the tomatoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and a little salt and pepper (you can adjust these a bit later)

Add the water and Better Than Bouillon. You can substitute 4 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock for four cups of the water to make a vegetarian or vegan version.

Toss in the bay leaves, place the top on the pressure cooker and bring to high pressure.

Set the timer for 18 minutes

When time is up, let the pressure come down naturally.


When pressure is released, remove top

If you have never worked with red lentils, be aware that they will break down completely, leaving a nice, thick stew-like soup.


I like to top it with a little crumbled Feta cheese, skip this step if you would like to make a vegan version.

Pressure Cooker Lentil-Barley Soup
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6 servings
Red Lentils, Barley and some North African spices make this warming soup perfect for a chilly weather dinner
  • 1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, washed and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chiles (Such as Ro-Tel)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Better The Bouillon chicken flavor (you can substitute four cups of the water and the BTB with four cups of chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. In pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat (or medium sauté setting on electric PC), in a couple tablespoons oil sauté the onions until they start to get translucent
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so
  3. Add the carrots and celery, continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes
  4. Put in the cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, coriander and ginger
  5. Stir for about 30 seconds
  6. Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, lentils and barley and mix everything together
  7. Pour in the water
  8. Add the Better Than Bouillon and stir
  9. Toss in the bay leaves and cover the pressure cooker and bring to high pressure (if using electric PC, switch from Sauté to high pressure mode
  10. Set time for 18 minutes
  11. When time is up, let pressure come down on its own.
  12. Serve with a little crumbled feta on top


Leave a Reply

  1. So I’m making this. And I realized I haven’t a clue about the size can of tomatoes. Let me know? I saw a 10oz can at the store so that’s what I ended up with. But it was a smaller can than most of the cans of diced tomatoes. So I’m not sure. It’s in the IP now. I’m so nervous because I thought you weren’t supposed to do lentils in the IP. Hopefully the amount of water and barley is an offset and it’ll be fine. Thanks!

    • Yes, the cans of Ro-Tel are smaller than other cans of tomatoes. 10 oz. sounds correct. Some pressure cooker manuals say you are not supposed to do any legumes or pasta at all, but those are some of the main things people use pressure cookers for. But when doing beans or lentils the pot should not be more than 1/2 full because they foam and may clog the valve. I hope this helps.

    • That’s why you let the pressure come down naturally, instead of releasing it quickly, all at once. If you do it quickly, they will plug up the vent. So let it go down on it’s own.

  2. Made this tonight and it’s fantastic!! I didn’t have canned tomatoes, so I used tomatoes paste and some extra water. I also added more carrots and some potatoes (mostly to make it enough food for my family). I could seriously lick the bowl clean. Yum!

  3. Would like to use just navy beans and barley. Should I soak beans first? Also how long to cook in for in Power pot. Plan to add veggies and seasoning and after cooking stir in ham. Any advice for a newbee?