Vegan Lentil Stew contains tender brown lentils simmered in a vegetable broth with aromatic vegetables and spices. Though this vegan lentil soup contains no meat, you will find this hearty lentil stew packed with plant-based protein that’s also a hearty one pot meal. I don’t usually post vegan recipes, but when I do, they’re great recipes with a lot of flavor.
*This is an update from a post I wrote in January 2021. The recipe now includes metric measurements.*
What Are Lentils?
Lentils are pulses, though they are often known as legumes. Pulses are crops that are harvested solely for the seed they contain. Lentils seeds are harvested from their plant to be eaten themselves, much like black-eyed peas or beans. Unlike most dried peas or beans, lentils are thin and delicate. They don’t require much effort- like soaking for long periods- to make them recipe-ready.
Lentils are a great source of protein. When I was pregnant with the twins, my mother told me to eat lentils as often as possible. They’re also a great source of fiber, folate, and iron, which expectant mothers can benefit from. Couple the nutritional benefits of lentils with the flavor in this dish, and I’m confident it will become a frequent recipe in your dinner rotation.
What’s the Difference Between the Different Types of Lentils?
Lentils come in a variety of shades. However, the most commonly sold are brown lentils, green lentils, or red lentils. Black lentils and French lentils (also called Puy lentils) exist but aren’t as readily sourced here in the States as the others are. The major difference between the variety of lentils, besides their colors, are their flavors and, with puy lentils, the final texture after cooking. Puy are hearty lentils that retain their shape better than the others, so they’re great for salads. Red lentils are best for dishes like red lentil dal because they have an astringent flavor.
Brown or green lentils are best for this hearty stew because they give it an earthy flavor.
What Do I Need to Make This Vegan Lentil Stew?
The key ingredients in vegan lentil stew are dried lentils (green or brown), diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, yellow onion, green bell pepper, garlic cloves, carrots, celery, garam masala spice blend, tamari, brown (or green) lentils, sofrito (which is optional), bay leaf, olive oil, and salt and black pepper, to taste.
You need a large dutch oven pot or another pot with a heavy bottom. Pureeing the stew at the end of cooking using an immersion blender gives the stew more body. This is totally optional. However, without this step, your “stew” will be more of a “soup.”
This recipe makes 6 hearty dinner portions and may leave you with leftovers. I recommend making it as written so you can freeze some later or have leftovers, especially since it tastes even better the next day.
Do I Have to Soak Lentils Making the Stew?
You don’t need to soak lentils before cooking them, which is why they make easy recipes.
Sort through the lentils to remove any that are shriveled, as well as any sticks or rocks. Put the lentils into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse them thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt or dust. Set the strainer over a bowl to allow the lentils to dry for a little while.
What Makes This a Vegan Stew?
A vegan recipe excludes anything with animal-made products, such as dairy, eggs, honey, and meat.
This stew is also gluten-free because of the tamari, a gluten-free soy sauce.
How Do I Make the Stew?
Heat oil in a 4 1/2-quart Dutch oven (or a similar large pot with a heavy bottom) over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer in the pot, add the bell pepper, minced cloves of garlic, carrots, celery, and onions.
Sauté the vegetable mixture for 3-4 minutes, or until they look glossy and begin to look opaque.
Stir the sofrito into the vegetables sautéing in the pot, then allow this mixture to cook for another minute.
What other spices can I use in this Lentil Stew?
I use my Garam Masala Spice Blend to give this lentil stew an Indian influence.
Consider switching up the spice flavors of the stew in different ways the next time you make it. Here are great spice blend substitutions you can replace the garam masala with:
- Basic Stew: replace it with this Meat Spice Blend and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
- Mexican Stew: add this Mexican Spice Blend
- Curry Stew: use a Madras or Jamaican curry powder
- Puerto Rican Stew: add my Sazón
Add the tomatoes to the pot with the garam masala. Cook the tomatoes in the pot until they release most of their liquid, or for 6 minutes.
Lentils are tender in about 25 minutes, so this is truly an easy lentil stew because it doesn’t require a long time to cook.
Add the rinsed lentils to the pot along with the tamari. Stir the lentils into the rest of the ingredients in the pot to ensure they are incorporated.
What are other alternatives to the vegetable broth?
Stir the vegetable broth into the ingredients in the pot.
A good replacement for vegetable broth or stock is a tablespoon of vegetable bouillon and 6 cups of water. If the stew doesn’t have to be vegan, you can replace the vegetable broth with beef or chicken broth.
Add the bay leaf to the pot and stir everything together thoroughly. Bring the liquid up to a boil.
How Long Do I Cook the Vegan Lentil Stew?
Decrease the temperature to low heat after the liquid in the pot comes to a boil, then cover the pot. Simmer the lentils for 25 minutes.
Check the lentils after 5 minutes to ensure they’re not boiling- with large bubbles that violently break the liquid’s surface. Since lentils are more delicate, rapidly cooking them will turn them into mush. Simmer them slowly, and stir the stew every 10 minutes to prevent the heavier ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
How Can I Make This a Heartier Stew?
To make a hearty lentil stew, consider adding these ingredients to the pot with the lentils:
- diced Russet potatoes, Yukon Gold, or sweet potatoes
- 4 cups of hearty greens (kale, chopped swiss chard, or collard greens)
- 4 cups of leafy greens (baby spinach, arugula, or 1 cup of chopped herbs like cilantro or parsley). Add these right before serving since they’re more delicate.
How Do I Make a Smoother Stew?
Use an immersion blender to blend the vegan lentil stew once the cooking time is finished. An immersion blender is not only the easiest way to blend soups and stews but also the safest.
Turn off the stove and remove the bay leaf and two cups of lentils from the pot. Discard the bay leaf, but set the reserved lentils aside. These whole lentils keep some texture in the stew.
Use an immersion blender to puree the lentil stew sightly by giving it a few quick pulses. Leaving little chunks of veggies and whole lentils is okay.
If you don’t own an immersion blender, you can do this with a blender. Carefully transfer the stew to your blender, and vent the lid by removing the plastic plug from its center. Place a folded kitchen towel over the hole in the lid to keep the hot stew from splashing you. Puree the stew for 30 seconds or until it’s mostly smooth. Depending on how big your blender is, you might have to do this in batches.
Can I Make This Stew Ahead?
Pour the reserved lentils back into the pot after you’re done pureeing it, and stir everything to combine. Turn the stove to medium heat to quickly warm the stew as needed. Turn the stove back down to warm once the stew is steaming.
You can make vegan lentil stew as far in advance as 3 days and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also make it early in the day and allow it to sit over very low heat until you’re ready to serve it. Make sure to stir the stew occasionally to keep it from sticking.
To reheat lentil stew, add it to a dutch oven and warm it over medium-low heat until it’s steaming.
How Do I Serve Vegan Lentil Stew?
One of my favorite ways to serve vegan lentil stew is topped with diced onion, avocado slices, and a drizzle of coconut cream. This stew is delicious topped with a dollop of sour cream if you don’t observe a vegan diet.
This is a hearty meal, but what is a stew without something to dip into? Crusty bread slices are a great option, but I usually pair it with toasted naan. Here are more bread recipes to serve with this nutritious meal:
A garden salad is also a great pairing with this lentil stew. Consider squeezing in fresh lemon juice to add a bright flavor to your lentil stew. Red pepper flakes give your lentil stew more of a spicy flavor, if that’s your jam.
How Do I Store Leftovers?
To store leftover lentil stew, let the stew cool completely and then transfer it to a food storage container.
Refrigerate the leftovers for up to 3 days.
To reheat lentil stew, microwave your desired amount for 2 minutes on high, stirring mid-way through. You can also reheat leftovers in a pot over medium-low heat. Stir the stew frequently to reheat it thoroughly.
Can I Freeze Vegan Lentil Stew?
To freeze vegan lentil stew, transfer the cool stew to a freezer-safe container or storage bag and freeze for 4-5 months.
Thaw the frozen stew overnight in the fridge, then reheat it per the instructions in the previous section.
This Vegan Lentil Stew is a great way to add a cozy meal to your Meatless Monday menu. This recipe shows that healthy eating doesn’t mean a lack of flavor, and I’m willing to bet that it quickly becomes one of your favorite stew recipes.
Tell me what you think by tagging me @senseandedibility on Instagram and Facebook or @ediblesense on Twitter or Pinterest, or leave me a note in the comments below. Don’t forget to share this recipe on your social media pages and pin it to your soups, stews, or vegan boards!
Vegan Lentil Stewat Sense & Edibility
- 4-quart dutch oven
- immersion blender or blender (optional)
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) olive oil
- 1 cup (52 grams) yellow onion diced (or white onion)
- 3/4 cup (155 grams) green bell pepper diced
- 2 stalks (101 grams) celery diced
- 2 large (144 grams) carrots diced
- 4 cloves (20 grams) garlic minced
- 1/4 cup (65 grams) sofrito optional
- 4 (500 grams) Roma tomatoes diced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (16 grams) Garam Masala Spice Blend
- 1/4 cup (64 grams) tamari (or soy sauce*)
- 1 pound ( brown lentils sorted and rinsed in cold water
- 8 cups (2 litres) vegetable broth
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (3 grams) kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- slice avocados
- diced red onion
- In a 4 1/2-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer in the pot, add the onion, bell pepper, celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté the veggie mixture for 3-4 minutes, or until they look glossy and begin to turn opaque.
- Stir the sofrito into the veggies sauteing in the pot, then allow this mixture to cook for another minute.Add the Garam Masala Spice Blend to the pot, along with the diced tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes in the pot until they have released most of their liquid, or for 6 minutes.
- Add the rinsed lentils and the tamari to the pot. Stir the lentils into the rest of the ingredients in the pot to ensure they are incorporated, then pour the vegetable broth into the pot. Add the bay leaf to the mixture and give everything a stir.
- Bring the liquid up to a boil. After the liquid in the pot comes to a boil, decrease the temperature, and cover the pot.Simmer the lentils for 25 minutes over low heat. Check the lentils after 5 minutes to make sure they're not boiling. Simmer the stew slowly, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent the heavier ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Turn off the stove. Remove and discard the bay leaf and 2 cups of lentils from the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the lentil slightly. Little chunks of veggies and whole lentils are okay. Optional blender method: carefully transfer the stew to your blender in small batches. Vent the lid of the blender by removing the plastic plug from its center. Cover the hole in the lid with a folded towel to guard against splashes. Puree the stew for 30 seconds or until it's mostly smooth.
- Once the stew is pureed, pour the reserved lentils back into the pot and stir everything to combine. Turn the stove to warm to reheat the stew as needed. To serve: ladle the stew into bowls and top with diced onion and avocado slices.
Flavor Swaps:Switch up the flavors of the stew by merely altering the spice blend you add in this step:
- Basic Stew: replace the garam masala with this Meat Spice Blend
- Mexican Stew: replace the garam masala with this Mexican Spice Blend
- Curry Stew: use Madras or Jamaican curry instead of the garam masala
- Puerto Rican Stew: replace the garam masala with my Sazón
- Allow leftover stew to cool completely before transferring to a food storage container.
- Refrigerate the leftovers for up to 3 days.
- To reheat the stew: microwave your desired amount for 2 minutes on high, stirring mid-way through. You can also reheat leftovers in a pot over medium-low heat. Stir the stew frequently to reheat it thoroughly.
- Once heated through serve as desired.
- Packed the cooled stew in freezer storage bags (or containers).
- Freeze for 4 months.
- The the frozen stew overnight in the fridge.
- Reheat per instructions in the previous section.
I have been wanting to cook with lentils lately but wasn’t quite sure where to start. This recipe looks perfect!
This is great intro to cooking with lentils, yes, Monica!
Oh thank you so much for this one. I love lentils so I will surely try this amazing recipe
Let me know what you think, Marina!
Ok this looks so good! I legit love lentil soup and stew! so filling and so good! totally gonna try this
You’re going to love it!
This is a perfect hearty winter stew! I can’t wait to make it and love the flavor swaps 🙂 can’t wait to try out all the variations!
I’m glad you enjoy it, Heather!
This is the perfect warm and hearty soup recipe for winter. I practically live off of soup this time of year and this one has such incredible flavor and spices – great recipe!
I agree! It’s total comort food.
We all love lentil stew and it is such a great recipe to make on a cold winter evening. I have never used tamari before in my lentil stew. I have to give it a try to see how it makes the stew taste different.
I like the flavor it gives to the lentil stew. I hope you do as well.