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Hearty Lentil Stew Recipe

Hearty Lentil Stew

For the past few years, I’ve made this simple, yet nourishing dish for Ash Wednesday, then frozen the rest for Good Friday’s meal. With cheese melted on top, it’s delicious and delightfully frugal; without cheese, it’s positively penitential and even more frugal. More on why Catholics choose to sacrifice as part of our Lenten devotion coming this week.

Find this recipe, updated and with even more frugal tips and transformation options, along with 29 other bean recipes and a ton of information on cooking dry beans, the health benefits of beans, and ideas for bean haters in The Everything Beans Book, available now at Kitchen Stewardship®!
Hearty Lentil Stew
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Hearty Lentil Stew

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 90 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main Course


  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chopped green pepper (in my freezer)
  • 6 c. water
  • 1 c. barley
  • 1 c. dry lentils
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 c. tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • ½ tsp. marjoram
  • salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase) and pepper

ship kroger


  1. Sauté onion, celery, garlic, and green pepper in a large pot with a small amount of water or oil until softened.
  2. Add 6 cups water, barley, and lentils.
  3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
  4. Stir, cover and cook 30 minutes.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients, stir, cover and cook 30 minutes.


You can also crock pot this. Serve over potatoes or brown rice.

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Hearty Lentil Stew

Seriously. You can’t get much simpler than those directions! It’s the perfect meal for a day when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen or if you want something simple and basic. It makes plenty for two meals for a family of four and freezes great.

Hearty Lentil Stew

Over potatoes is my favorite…

Want to “soak” it? Easy peasy. Just let the lentils and barley soak overnight in warm water with a few Tbs of vinegar added. Drain and proceed with the recipe as written except you’ll probably want to delete a 1/2-1 cup or so of water because the rice and lentils will have soaked up some already. (Why soak grains?) The lentils in the photo above were sprouted for a day or two before making the recipe.

Need more legumes? Check out my all-inclusive dry beans post.

More Meatless Meals:

Hearty Lentil Stew
Hearty Lentil Stew
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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22 thoughts on “Hearty Lentil Stew Recipe”

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Aleda, You can substitute any gluten-free grain such as buckwheat, rice, quinoa, etc. If you don’t want to use grains at all, I imagine you could just use extra lentils without much of a difference.

  1. Used red pepper, part tomato sauce and the rest diced tomatoes as per my larder and no carrots — tasted great. The next day I added cumin and chili powder and it is absolutely fabulous! I’m going to serve it as a burrito and add cheese. I think corn would work in here as would peppers — mild or hot. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. I made this the other day for my husband who thinks he hasn’t been fed a meal if there isn’t any meat included. It was a hit!

  3. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    I linked to this one, too. :>) I love your tradition of making it on Ash Weds and freezing for Good Friday.
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Enormous Toddler Bib/Napkin =-.

  4. Pingback: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday – 3/16/10 : Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

  5. Thanks Katie. Red lentils almost dissolve when cooked but they leave a pretty carrot coloring behind.

    Thanks so much. I am going to try to sprout my own lentils even though I am a little worried about bacteria growth during the sprouting process.

  6. There are so many different kinds of lentils, which should I be using for this recipe? Since some types of lentils don’t hold there shape very well once cooked.

    1. Elizabeth,
      I’ve only ever used green lentils, but I always wonder what the red ones are and how they’re different!
      🙂 Katie

  7. Great recipe. My family is Lebanese so growing up we used lentils a lot. I’m always on the lookout for easy healthy lentil recipes. And I’m always happy to see a recipe that uses apple cider vinegar!

  8. It’s great to have lots of recipes for lentils. I agree with Joann that it is a highly nutritious food.
    .-= Laurie´s last blog ..Greek Salad with all the Works =-.

  9. This looks great! I have a question for you though. Last time I sprouted lentils, I did too many, so I popped the the extras in the freezer. If I thaw and cook them, will I retain the enzymes/nutrients from the sprouting?

    1. Lori,
      I don’t know how uncooked lentils will do in the freezer quality-wise, but I always cook my lentils. Any cooking kills enzymes, every time, so you’re not really wanting enzymes in sprouted lentils, just released nutrients and easier digestibility. Freezing shouldn’t harm enzymes for other foods, by the way. I cook and freeze sprouted lentils. I am fairly certain the nutrients should be kept just fine.
      🙂 Katie

  10. The Working Home Keeper

    Looks delicious! My kids would love this topped with shredded, raw cheddar cheese. We love lentils even outside of Lent. Our meal plans usually include a number of meatless meals to counter the additional cost of buying local, grass-fed and pastured meats.

    Mary Ellen
    .-= The Working Home Keeper´s last blog ..Star Breath =-.

  11. Looks delicious, Katie. I enjoyed a different version last week. Lentils are a high fiber convenience food, for sure.

  12. This sounds wonderful. Even we Lutherans partake of the sacrifice. I think I’ll try this for our meatless meal this Friday. Thanks for sharing.

    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..slow cooking fixation =-.

  13. I like the seasonings in this soup, it looks so delicious!
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Pickle Lady/TMTT =-.

  14. This looks easy and delicious. I have tried making lentils in so many different ways and my children will not touch them. I think I’ll give it another try with this recipe though. Perhaps on top of some potatoes, they’ll give it a try.

  15. Aubree Cherie

    This looks excellent! I typically cook up lentils plain with just a few common seasonings. This looks so much better – I especially love that it would be doable in a crock pot!
    .-= Aubree Cherie´s last blog ..White Bean Blondie Bars =-.

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