Easy Vegan Brown Lentil Stew
This is a super easy recipe for a brown lentil stew that not only requires just a handful of ingredients, but is also nutritious, healthy, and a great staple meal to create when you’re pantry is running low.
I’ve been eating this brown lentil stew (which so happens to be vegan) for as long as I can remember. It has always been a staple in my family, and it never gets old.
Both my mum and grandmother have similar Dalmatian recipes called Sočivo/Leča, but this is how my mum makes it.
As soon as autumn (aka fall for all our US friends) creeps in, this meal becomes pretty much a weekly rotation. It’s very affordable to make, ridiculously easy, packed with protein, and relatively quick for how many serves it makes.
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I like to make this lentil stew in bulk and eat it over two days for lunch and dinner. It gets better with age as the flavours have had some time to mature.
I normally don’t freeze it because there’s potato in it but if you wanted to do so, you can swap the potatoes for carrots and celery, and it will freeze really well.
What kind of stock is best for this recipe?
I find it pretty tricky to find a stock that isn’t full of fillers like maltodextrin, starches, sugar, or one that doesn’t use palm oil.
Over the years I’ve created my own recipe for a veggie broth and have found a stock powder that I love.
For this recipe, you can use:
- Store bought liquid vegetable stock
- Vegetable stock cubes (bouillon cubes)
- Stock powder (I recommend Nutra Organics Vegetable Broth)
- Homemade vegetable broth
I normally use stock powder or water for this dish as I never buy liquid stock from the shops. Boiled water will be just fine if that’s all you have. Feel free to experiment and add other veggies in there to make it more of a lentil and vegetable stew.
My mum always made hers with water, as the flavours are very simple in this dish. She said jokingly “I’ve never used stock in my life!”
Do you need to soak brown lentils?
Brown lentils do need to be soaked before being added to any dish. Normally 6-12 hours is ideal. The longer they soak, the better.
I soak them overnight to make sure that they rehydrate properly. This also helps with digestion.
An even better trick to use if you get bloated by beans and lentils easily is to bring them to a boil (after soaking overnight) and cook them for 10 minutes first, drain that first water, give them a quick rinse, and then add to the pot with the rest in step 3.
If you want to slightly sprout them, you can soak them over 2-3 days, changing the water every 12-24 hours. You’ll see that they have sprouted when they start to get little white tails.
Always give the lentils a rinse before adding them to your dish. You can cook them separately in water or stock and add them to your dish cooked. If you’re making a soup or stew, I’d cook them in the dish so that they absorb the flavours of the other ingredients.
If you’re using them for a salad, for instance, cook them on their own and give them a quick rinse under cold water when they’re soft to stop the cooking process. They can be used in a salad like my super easy lentil salad.
Short on time? You can also cook your lentils in a pressure cooker if you have one. This speeds up the process and you can avoid having to soak them beforehand.
Do brown lentils take longer to cook?
Brown lentils do take a little longer to cook compared to their other lentil counterparts like puy/French lentils, black beluga lentils, and red lentils, purely due to their size.
This is why soaking them is so important.
In saying that, if you’re rushed for time or want to use other lentils in this stew, you can swap them out for puy/French lentils. The flavour will be slightly different.
I wouldn’t recommend red lentils as they would turn into a completely different dish. If you want to use red lentils, I have a soup and a stew recipe for those you can try.
What can you serve with this stew?
This easy brown lentil stew is a Dalmatian recipe that is a family-friendly meal, super cost-effective, hearty dish that you can serve with a fresh salad like this Caprese salad, or we like it with fermented vegetables like cabbage and carrot. If you ferment your own veggies, I’d recommend trying a carrot, turmeric, and garlic combination. It’s pretty amazing!
It’s also normally topped with sour cream or cooking cream, however, since we’re keeping this dish plant-based, you can substitute it for vegan sour cream, oat cream, soy cream, or even plant-based unsweetened natural yoghurt.
Lentils in a stew are a great way to add more fibre and protein to your meal and give it that comforting boost. If you love this recipe, you’ll love my other lentil dishes!
Other lentil recipes you’ll love:
- One-Pot French Lentil, Mushroom and Sage Stew
- Easy Vegan Red Lentil Soup
- Wholesome Vegan Lentil Lasagna
- Vegan Dal Makhani (Black Lentil Dal)
- Creamy Red Lentil Curry (Vegan-Friendly)
- Quick & Simple Vegan Lentil Salad
- My Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese (Vegan)
- Red Lentil Stew with Potatoes and Peas
- Vegan Lentil Loaf With a Maple-Balsamic Glaze
- Warm Vegan Lentil Salad with Tempeh (Gluten-Free)
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Easy Brown Lentil Stew
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 6
Enjoy this quick and easy vegan brown lentil stew, which is packed with protein and is a perfect hearty meal on a cooler day.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika (optional)
- 3 bay leaves (snapped in half)
- 2 sprigs thyme
- ½ – 1 teaspoon salt, to taste*
- 3 potatoes, washed well and cut into cubes (I like to leave the skin on for extra flavour and nutrients)
- 3 cups / 600g / 1.32 pounds brown lentils (soaked overnight and rinsed well)
- 6 cups / 1.5 litres vegetable stock*
- Vegan sour cream, tzatziki, oat cream, cashew cream, or soy cream*
- In a large saucepan, on medium-high heat add the oil and onions and saute until they become translucent.
- Add in the garlic, sweet paprika, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Add in the potatoes and lentils and stir making sure the potatoes don’t stick to the bottom. Cook for a few minutes.
- Add in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil and then reduce to low-medium heat.
- Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the lentils and potatoes are slightly overcooked. Make sure you always have enough liquid to cover the lentils on top and remember to give it a stir every 5 or so minutes.
- Once cooked, remove the bay leaves and serve with optional toppings and some sourdough.
Salt: This will vary depending on the stock that you use and how seasoned you like your food.
Stock: Alternatively, use your own or mix powdered stock with boiling water.
Cream: This dish is normally served with dairy sour cream or a cooking cream. There are plenty of alternatives out there. Just make sure whatever you use, it’s not sweetened. Even plant-based natural unsweetened yoghurt will work. You could also try our savoury cashew cream for this dish.
Tomatoes: If you like a richer, tomato based stew, you can add 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes at the same time as the lentils in step 3. I make it this way sometimes.
- Diet: Vegan
Made this today in my slow cooker. So nice to come home after a long 10 hour work day and have a warm bowl of stew waiting! Awesome recipe! Thanks
So happy to hear that! Sounds like the perfect way to finish up a long work day. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Just yesterday I made a version of “refrigerator lentil soup”: brown lentils, sautéed onion and garlic and mushrooms, a can of tomatoes, a couple of chopped carrots, some finely chopped cabbage, over brown rice. I used oregano and parsley to flavor, but thyme and bay sounds great — I’ll try it next time!
Yum, that sounds delicious! I hope you love this one, it’s so simple to whip up 🙂
This is precisely the way Greek people make lentil soup and I, too, have had it all my life. I’ve only ever used water, not stock, and it’s the most nourishing, nutritious meal. Some people soak the lentils first, some don’t. Some people boil the lentils in a little water for a minute in a small pot and strain them before adding to the soup. I’ve never sautéed the onions before, but I’ll try it. I sometimes cook the soup with very little oil and drizzle a little more oil over it when it’s plated. It gives it a slightly different flavour. For those who are vegetarian, a little feta cheese (and a few olives) on the side with this soup is wonderful.
Thanks for the various suggestions! Sounds great 🙂
Brown Lentils are a favorite here in India. I love them with the wheat “parathas”.
Thank you for the recipe. I would surely share this with my mom.
You’re welcome Prakash 🙂