Flavorful and comforting, this lightly spicy vegan cabbage soup is a breeze to prepare in a pressure cooker, with most of the cook time being totally hands off. With nutritious lentils, tomatoes, onion, carrot, and a hint of smokiness, this lentil cabbage soup is comfort in a bowl.

Dietary notes: This soup is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and can be made without oil. If including the vegan butter check for allergens as needed

Servings: 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Time to build and release pressure:: 30 mins

Total Time: 55 mins


  • pasta/soup pot
  • 6-quart instant pot

INGREDIENTS US CustomaryMetric

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil, like grapeseed or avocado, optional
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon homemade “chicken” bouillon powder (tap for recipe) – Or 1 serving other vegan bouillon.
  • 1 (28 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • ¾ cup dry green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small head green cabbage, cored and chopped – I like to cut the cabbage into large bite-size pieces, about 2×2 inches.
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

To add after cooking:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegan butter, optional – I prefer Miyoko’s brand.

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Instant Pot Instructions:

  • Turn on the Instant Pot sauté function, and add the oil. Cook the onion for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently (if not using oil, add a splash of water as needed).
  • Add the carrots and garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, and cayenne, and stir. Press cancel to turn off the sauté function.
  • Add the bouillon powder, tomatoes (with the juice), water, lentils, cabbage, salt and pepper. Stir very well, making sure all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Use the spoon to lightly press the cabbage into the liquids, making sure everything is below the Instant Pot’s max fill line.
  • Secure the Instant Pot lid and set to sealing. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will take almost 20 minutes to come to pressure, then the 10 minute timer will begin. When the Instant Pot beeps and the cook time is complete, carefully flip the valve to manually release the pressure (this is sometimes called “quick release”). Because of the large volume of liquid this may take about 10 minutes.
  • Once the pressure button has dropped, carefully remove the Instant Pot lid. Stir in the soy sauce, liquid smoke, vinegar, and vegan butter, if using.
  • Let the soup cool for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Stovetop Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until fragrant and translucent. Add carrot and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. 
  • Stir in the smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, and cayenne. Immediately add the bouillon powder, tomatoes (with the juice), water, lentils, cabbage, salt and pepper. 
  • Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  • Add the tamari, vinegar, liquid smoke, and vegan butter, if using. Let cool for a few minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings.



  • Oil-Free – you may omit the oil and sauté the veggies in water or broth, or simply skip the sautéing altogether. I’ve tested this recipe without the initial sauté (just dump everything in, and pressure cook as directed), and it’s still great.
  • Extra Spicy – the spice level of this soup is mild to moderate but easily adjusted with more cayenne and red pepper flakes. Or stir in a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce before serving, and garnish with fresh jalapeno.
  • Meaty – try vegan beefy crumbles, Beyond Meat, or Impossible burger in the soup. I recommend sautéing them separately while the soup is cooking. Stir it into the pot at the end of cooking, or add to individual servings. This is also a great way to accommodate different family members’ preferences.
  • Soy Curls or Tofu – If you like the idea of more meatiness but don’t consume processed vegan meats, add sautéed soy curls, tofu, or tempeh to your bowl.


Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

To freeze the soup, cool completely, and place in a freezer-safe container, leaving at least an inch of space at the top to accommodate expansion. Freeze for up to 2 months (maybe longer). Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat.

*Nutrition information includes the optional oil and vegan butter. If you omit those ingredients the fat content of the soup will be negligible.

Estimated Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 220kcalProtein: 10gFat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgFiber: 10gVitamin A: 5425IUCalcium: 136mgIron: 3.26mg