Instant Pot: Warm Lentil & Pasta Soup with Pancetta

Soup's on! With the dreary cold weather, nothing is more comforting that a warm bowl of soup. I've had dry lentils sitting in my pantry for far too long and today was the perfect day to use them in soup. Lentils are seasoned with the savory saltiness of bacon and pancetta while pasta adds texture and bite in this hearty Warm Lentil & Pasta Soup with Pancetta. It will keep you nice and cozy on those cold fall and winter nights...

Lentils weren't a common pantry item in my kitchen until recently. I love how easy they are to cook compared to dry beans. They're also packed with protein making them a healthy dish as well! What I love about this soup is how rustic it is. I added gluten free macaroni pasta to make it a heartier soup, if not a stew, since I opted not to have too much liquid. If you prefer more broth, add it! This is a recipe you can certainly tailor to fit your tastes.

Warm Lentil & Pasta Soup with Pancetta
recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan

3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
1 1/2 cups chopped white onion (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup chopped carrot
2 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 head of garlic, most of outer skin removed, cut in half crosswise
2 small bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 pound dried green lentils, rinsed, drained
10 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 pound (8 oz) dry small pasta, cooked per directions and drained

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place

Press SAUTE and cook the pancetta until crisp. Remove from pot and set aside.

In the now empty IP, add the celery, onion, carrot, bacon, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme to remaining drippings in pot and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add lentils and stir 1 minute.

Add 10 cups broth; bring to simmer.

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 35 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 35 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 35 minutes, turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).

Discard bay leaves and garlic. Using slotted spoon, transfer 2 cups lentils to a small bowl; cover and reserve.

Working in batches, puree remaining soup in the IP until almost smooth. Add cream and vinegar. 

Thin down the soup and add more broth to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Add reserved lentils and pasta; stirring to combine. Divide soup among bowls and serve warm.