The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

By Rachel Tiemeyer
January 24, 2022

This Instant Pot Vegetable Soup is filled to the brim with hearty vegetables, black beans, and barley. It provides incredible nutrition plus amazing taste. I wanted to lick the bowl clean!

Instant Pot Vegetable Soup graphic with two views of the soup plus title graphic

Why This is the BEST Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Why is this one the best, you ask? I’ll give you four reasons to get ya started…

1. Tasty Nutrition in a Bowl

For starters, you’ll slurp up the very best healthy, vegetable-based foods that are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and more PLUS enjoy incredible taste in one bowl. We’re talking 6 different vegetables, beans, and whole grains. I have a hard time stopping eating this soup…but, hey, that’s not a bad problem when it’s this good for you!

2. Satisfies Both Vegetarians and Meat Eaters

Thanks to the beans and barley, this soup is filling and will satisfy even the meat-lover in your life. (I’m looking at you, hubs).

3. 15 Minutes of Hands-On Cook Time

Your hands-on prep time (chopping and sauteeing veggies) will only take 15 minutes. Then, press a button and the pressure cooker will do the rest. Expect the hands-off time to take about 20 minutes–including the time it takes to come to pressure, cook, and release the pressure.

4. Includes a Secret Ingredient

This recipe, unlike others, includes a secret ingredient that jacks the flavor waaay up. I learned this from a chef friend! Read more about this incredible secret ingredient below.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Check out this all-star line-up that will have you licking your bowl clean…

Onions, Celery, and Carrots – You’ll start with the traditional triumvirate of French aromatics referred to as mirepoix (pronounced: meer-pwah). Chop these into evenly-sized, bite-sized pieces.

a steel bowl with chopped onions, celery, and carrots

Garlic – Adds pungency, which is a very good thing in the right balance with other flavors. Also, you can read more about the health benefits of garlic here–it’s impressive.

Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes – Salt helps bring out the natural flavors of the vegetables, and the peppers add a little heat in the background. I like to use Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, because it hasn’t been stripped of valuable minerals.

Broth – Use vegetable broth to keep this vegetarian or feel free to use a good chicken stock instead. You can make your own easily!

Fire-Roasted Tomatoes – These canned tomatoes are my go-to for soups, because they have a notably more complex flavor than just regular ole diced tomatoes. A bonus to using canned tomatoes is they add in Vitamin C, fiber, and are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene, which is shown to help lower the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and macular degeneration (poor eyesight as you get older). Boom!

Bay Leaves – The aroma and flavor of the dried bay leaf is subtle, with “a pleasantly minty taste and notes of warm baking spice” according to this Huff Post article. The pressure cooker helps to bring out the oils from this little leaf and infuse it into the soup.

Barley – I recommend using pearl barley. It’s one of the cheapest whole grains you can find. I find it in the bulk bin in the health food section. The barley holds its texture well in the soup, which surprised me the first time I tested this. It’s does much better than pasta or orzo, which can get mushy pretty quickly. I am officially a pearl barley fan.

Black Beans – One of nature’s greatest gifts to man, this tasty and nutrient-dense bean packs in protein, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Look for BPA-free canned beans to make your life easy. Or, you can always prepare your own from scratch by following the dried bean packaging directions. Check out all the benefits of eating black beans here.

Parmesan Rind!! – This is the SECRET INGREDIENT, friends. Adding the rind (the tough outer part of a giant round of Parmesan) will infuse the entire soup with a salty, umami flavor. Absolutely delicious and what will take this soup to the next level!

Ask at the cheese counter if you can buy a piece of rind–2-3 inches is enough. I’ve done it before and it’s the cheapest and easiest way to get your hands on this ingredient (mine was under $2). Or you can purchase a wedge of fresh Parmesan from the specialty cheese area and cut off the rind for the soup. Then, use a grater to add fresh Parm to the soup when you serve a bowl.

Kale – Stemmed, chopped kale adds beautiful color and potent antioxidants at the end of this recipe. The flavor becomes very mellow once it wilts into the soup.

stemmed kale on a cutting board with a knife

How to Make Instant Pot Vegetable Soup: Step-by-Step Instructions

You’ll build flavor all along the way as you sauté, season, and pressure cook your ingredients all in one pot.

Step 1: Sauté and Season the Aromatics

Begin by building a firm foundation of flavor. Sauté the classic aromatic combination of chopped onions, celery, and carrots. You’ll season these veggies with garlic, salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Vegetables sauteeing in the Instant Pot for Vegetable Soup

Step 2: Pressure Cook the Soup

Stir in vegetable broth (I prefer organic), fire-roasted tomatoes, black beans, barley, a dried bay leaf or two, and the secret ingredient–a Parmesan rind–into the Instant Pot. Lock and seal the lid and cook at high pressure for 7 minutes. Do a quick release of the pressure after it’s done.

Ingredients in the Instant Pot for Vegetable Soup

Step 3: Stir in the Kale

Fish out the bay leaves and Parmesan rind with tongs. (Tip: You can let the Parm rind cool and freeze it to use again!) Lastly, stir in the chopped kale. It will wilt into the hot liquid fairly quickly. Taste and season the soup with more salt and pepper, as needed. Serve each bowl with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

A white bowl with spoon filled with Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

How to Freeze Vegetable Soup for the Instant Pot

As freezer cooking experts (15 years of experience!) and authors of two freezer cooking cookbooks, we love sharing our best tips for prepping and freezing meals for later. If you’re wondering what to freeze your soup in, we’ve narrowed in on the best freezer storage containers here.

How to Freeze the Soup for Later:

Method 1 (Before Cooking): Follow Steps 1-2 in the recipe below. Transfer the uncooked soup to a gallon-sized freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze. Tip: Place freezer bag in a bowl until frozen to freeze in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Method 2 (After Cooking): After cooking, let the soup fully cool. Then freeze in small portions for individual meals or freeze the whole recipe in a round container or freezer bag. Tip: Place the freezer bag in a round container in the freezer until it freezes in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Frozen vegetable soup for the Instant Pot

How to Prepare the Soup From Frozen:

Method 1 (Before Cooking): Turn on the Sauté function. Sauté the frozen soup for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 12-15 minutes at high pressure and use a quick release. Follow Steps 4-5.

Method 2 (After Cooking): For individual portions, thaw and warm up the soup in the microwave or on the stovetop. For an entire frozen batch, drop the frozen soup block in the Instant Pot and saute for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Then, lock and seal the lid and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes with a quick release. 

A bowl of The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

More Healthy Soups For the Instant Pot

If you like this recipe, we think you’ll enjoy these nutritious options, as well.

Time to fill your pot and get cooking the BEST Instant Pot vegetable soup, in my humble opinion.

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The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

The BEST Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Instant Pot Vegetable Soup is filled to the brim with hearty vegetables, black beans, and barley. It provides the nutrition you need this winter to boost your immune system and fight off sickness plus amazing taste that will make you want to lick the bowl clean.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 34 celery ribs, sliced
  • 34 medium carrots, sliced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 quart (32 ounces) all-natural vegetable broth (sub: chicken broth)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup pearl barley (Gluten-free sub: 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 1 (2-3 inch) Parmesan rind*
  • 23 cups chopped kale, packed (sub: chopped baby spinach)
  • Optional Toppings: grated Parmesan cheese*, fresh chopped parsley

*omit if making a Dairy-Free version


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Turn on the Saute function and heat the oil. Saute the onions, celery, and carrots, stirring frequently, until the vegetables softened, about 5-7 minutes. Season with kosher salt and black pepper, to taste, as they cook. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes the last 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, barley, bay, and Parm rind, and stir to combine.(Option 1 freezing instructions begin here.) 
  3. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure and use a quick release when done. Remove the bay leaves and Parm rind (or leave the rind to add more flavor as it sits, if you want). 
  4. Stir in the kale and let it sit for about 3-5 minutes, until softened. Taste and adjust salt and pepper amounts, to taste. 
  5. Serve warm in individual bowls, and top with Parmesan cheese and parsley as desired.

Freeze For Later:

Method 1 (Before Cooking): Follow Steps 1-2. Transfer the uncooked soup to a gallon-sized freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze. Tip: Place freezer bag in a bowl until frozen to freeze in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Method 2 (After Cooking): After cooking, let the soup fully cool. Then freeze in small portions for individual meals or freeze the whole recipe in a round container or freezer bag. Tip: Place the freezer bag in a round container in the freezer until it freezes in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Prepare From Frozen:

Method 1 (Before Cooking): Turn on the Sauté function. Sauté the frozen soup for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 12-15 minutes at high pressure and use a quick release. Follow Steps 4-5.

Method 2 (After Cooking):

For individual portions, thaw and warm up the soup in the microwave or on the stovetop.

For an entire frozen batch, drop the frozen soup block in the Instant Pot and saute for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Then, lock and seal the lid and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes with a quick release. 



Notes

Dairy-Free Version: Omit the Parmesan rind and grated Parmesan at the end. 

Gluten-Free Version: Barley contains gluten, so replace this grain with one can of chickpeas that have been drained and rinsed.

Want More Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot?

We’ve got you covered. Hop over to this post highlighting 20+ Best of the Best Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot. It includes freezer meal instructions for EVERY recipe plus tons of pro tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years.

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9 replies
  1. Beth says:

    This was soooo good and easy! It had the umami of a soup with meat, without the addition of meat. My husband and I loved it. My grocery store wax out of barley, so I subbed some bulgar I already had. Delicious!

    Reply
  2. Jennifer says:

    I’m confused about the directions for prepping from frozen. You have it state sauté from frozen for 5 minutes then pressure for 15 then in the next paragraph you state pressure for 5 mins. Why the difference if both are preparing from frozen

    Reply
  3. Mireille says:

    does the parmesan rind do something different than regular parmesan would do? I wouldn’t know where to get just rind here in Canada…

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      It’s an optional flavor add-in. If you have a cheese or deli meats counter at your grocery store, you could ask them to cut you off a piece. Or just buy a small wedge of fresh parmesan and cut the end/rind off. But, if you can’t find it, it would still be delicious to sprinkle Parmesan on top at the end.

      Reply
  4. Christine says:

    How long do I cook everything if I don’t have an instant pot? Looks delicious and will be nice to have something that isn’t a heavy holiday meal!

    Reply