Set Instant Pot to SAUTÉ function. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes or until browned. Press CANCEL after sautéing. (If using cubed ham, you may skip the sauté step.)
Add the lentils, carrots, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, parsley, celery salt, garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg, black pepper, and bay leaf to the pot. Pour in the chicken broth and stir to combine. Seal the lid according to the owner's manual and cook on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes.
When the timer is done, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully vent to release the remaining pressure (consult your owner's manual for more specific instructions). Open the lid, stir well, and serve hot. If desired, stir a small splash of apple cider vinegar into individual bowls of soup and garnish with fresh parsley.
When making this recipe with sausage, I typically use 1/2 (or even 1/3) of a 1-pound link of German smoked sausage or Kielbasa (I dice and freeze the unused portion for a future batch of soup). I opt to dice it instead of slicing it for smaller bits of sausage throughout the soup.
Alternatively, you may make this soup with diced ham.
Feel free to use shredded, matchstick, or diced carrots. I typically use a 10-ounce bag of shredded carrots, but if you measure out your carrots, be sure to pack them into the measuring cup. The carrots will become very tender while cooking, and smaller pieces will practically melt into the soup.
If you wish to add other veggies to the soup, such as chopped onion or celery, you may use the sauté function to cook and soften them (in a little olive oil or butter) before adding the other ingredients.
I often use 1 1/2 tablespoons of Organic Chicken Better Than Bouillon plus water for my broth.
You can make this recipe vegetarian by omitting the sausage/ham and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Since the type of broth you use can dictate the saltiness of the dish, taste at the end of the cooking time and add more salt then, if necessary.
For extra depth of flavor, I love adding a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar to individual bowls of soup. Just be sure not to add too much...a little bit goes a long way! My husband likes adding extra hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco) to his bowl. And if I don't make spätzle for serving, we often enjoy this soup with a few crackers crushed on top.