I made Reese Witherspoon’s lentil soup and it’s the perfect meal for a rainy day

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Reese's soup Instant pot photo
Reese Witherspoon loves her slow cooker (left), but I went with an Instant Pot (right). Reese Witherspoon/Instagram and Rachel Askinasi/Insider
  • Reese Witherspoon shared the recipe for her slow-cooker lentil soup.
  • She listed all 11 ingredients but left out instructions.
  • I tried to make it in my own kitchen but had to abandon my slow cooker for a regular stovetop pot.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There’s nothing like hearty soup on a gloomy day.

Reese Witherspoon shared a video of her ad-libbed lentil soup, and after a cold, rainy week, it looked like something I had to get my taste buds around.

The actress and producer shared an ingredient list – which included carrots, onion, celery, paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic, and vegetable broth – and loosely described her cooking method, but I had to guess on measurements and when to add certain components.

I gathered up everything I needed, including the sausage Witherspoon says she added last-minute and the slow cooker she was super excited about, and I got to work.

A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon)

Since the actress was using a slow cooker to make her soup, she sautéed her onions, carrots, and celery in a pan first. I have an Instant Pot, so I used the sautée function to cook up the veggies and garlic.

Witherspoon also said she made a game-time decision to add sausage, so I took the opportunity to brown some of the crumbled meat before adding the rest of the ingredients and switching the pot’s settings to slow cook.

Reese's soup 10
Her recipe called for 11 total ingredients. Rachel Askinasi/Insider

Witherspoon shared an ingredient list, but she didn’t share much else

The “Legally Blonde” icon failed to share her instructions for cooking, notes on when to add what component to the pot, or even a general cooking time.

I used my home cook’s intuition to figure out when to add in the garlic (while sautéeing the vegetables), how to cook the sausage (I chose to crumble and brown it), and at what point to add the tomato paste, paprika, cumin, and coriander (I combined them all with the cooked veggies while my pot was on sautée).

Reese's soup Instant pot
I sautéed my veggies and garlic, and browned my sausage (left) before slow-cooking the whole meal (right). Rachel Askinasi/Insider

The piece I totally guessed on was cook time. After adding in rinsed lentils as per Witherspoon’s instructions and pouring in almost an entire box of vegetable stock, I switched the pot’s setting to slow cook and set it for two hours. The joke was on me because this simple soup ended up taking 10 cumulative hours to partially cook before I gave up and dumped it all into a regular stovetop pot.

I kept tasting and seasoning my soup along the way, but even after slow cooking for 10 total hours (I set it for two hours first, then three hours, then one, then four) the lentils were still mostly hard. The frustration! How could little lentils take so long to cook? I was wishing the “Big Little Lies” star would have given us some sort of guidance on slow cooking.

Having cooked lentils many times before on the stove, I gave up and dumped it all into a regular old pot, put a lid on it, brought it to a boil, and then simmered for 30 minutes. And what do you know? The lentils were cooked and I had a beautiful stew-like soup ready for dinner – just 24 hours after I had originally intended to eat it.

Witherspoon stressed that she was “going off recipe” a bunch, so I guess it’s OK that I, too, threw caution to the wind and abandoned my slow cooker.

Reese's soup final
My soup had a stew-like consistency (right), but Witherspoon didn’t share a finished photo of her soup for comparison, just an empty bowl (left). Reese Witherspoon/Instagram and Rachel Askinasi/Insider

Overall, the soup delivered on comfort

Had I cooked it on the stove in the first place (or just known how to properly slow-cook lentils), maybe I would have gotten more of a liquid soup consistency rather than that of a thick, hearty stew. But I like stew, so I wasn’t mad about whatever mistake I made.

As someone who makes lentil stew quite often during the winter, I don’t think her recipe is super unique. If anything, I’d say it’s on the bland side and could have used herbs, a bay leaf, some hot chilis, or another big flavoring component.

I’m glad she told followers about her decision to add sausage, though, because I think that adds some texture to a mostly mushy bowl.

I’d also recommend topping it all off with some fresh, grated cheese – chef’s choice! I used Parmigiano Reggiano, but Grana Padano or ricotta salata would also be delightful.

Just be aware that this soup is truly a time commitment – er, I mean, a labor of love.