Despite the simple ingredient list, this red lentil stew is filled with complex, warming flavors. This nutritious soup is easy to make, satisfying, and all-around delicious!
This red lentil stew is like classic lentil soup meets lentil curry. It's warming, nourishing, and bursting with complex flavor despite the simple ingredient list.
Red lentils are one of my favorite kitchen staples because they are packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and iron, and they cook more quickly than green or brown lentils. Use them in veggie burger patties, as a pasta sauce, or as the base of this red lentil stew.
- Quick & easy: Simply saute the veggies and aromatics, then add the rest of the soup ingredients and wait for the lentils to cook. This stew freezes well and its simplicity makes it great for meal prep.
- Nourishing: Red lentils provide plant-based protein and fiber, and carrots are packed with Vitamin A.
- Flavors: Packed with warming, complex flavor from the ras el hanout spice blend, which is a storebought mixture of cinnamon, coriander, clove, ginger, and more! Ras el hanout gives this stew a cozy, curry-like feel.
- Versatile: Enjoy this stew on its own for a light meal or serve alongside salads, sandwiches, or grilled cheese.
- Red lentils: Orange lentils also work. Red lentils soften and turn to an almost mush while cooking. I don't recommend brown or green lentils because they take longer to cook and have a much firmer texture than red lentils.
- Coconut milk adds depth and creaminess. I use full-fat canned coconut milk, but lite coconut milk is a good option for a lighter stew.
- Sweet onion and carrots made up the base of the lentil stew. Shallots are pictured above and also work due to their light, sweet flavor, but yellow onion is more readily available and less expensive.
- Garlic and ginger: I recommend using fresh ginger and garlic. In a pinch, you can use ½ teaspoon ground ginger in place of minced.
- Ras el hanout: This is a Moroccan spice blend that is completely worth picking up from the store. It is full of warmth and depth from coriander, cloves and a ginger (among other spices). You can pick it up in the spice aisle at most grocery stores, make your own, or substitute it with an equal amount of garam masala or curry powder for a similar flavor profile.
- Vegetable bouillon: I use this in place of vegetable broth because it is densely packed with umami flavor. Of course, vegetable broth works in place of water if you already have it on hand.
Step by step instructions
This is my go-to Dutch oven for soups and stews, but any 4 quart stock pot works.
- Start by heating a Dutch oven or medium stock pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle with oil. Once hot, add the chopped yellow onion and carrot. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until softened.
- Add in the garlic, ginger, and tomato paste sauteing until the garlic is aromatic and golden, about a minute.
- Add in the ras el hanout, salt, vegetable bouillon, stirring consistently for 30 seconds. Delglaze the pot with a splash of water, stirring to remove any stuck on bits.
- Add the remaining ingredients: coconut milk, water, red lentils. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Once simmering, reduce to a low simmer over low heat. Continue cooking uncovered until the lentils are softened, about 15 minutes.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and taste for salt. The soup will be relatively thick, feel free to add an extra ½ cup of water to thin to desired consistency.
Variations and tips
- Blender soup: Red lentils break down a lot while cooked, but not completely. If you prefer a completely smooth/pureed soup like this butternut squash soup, you can transfer the cooked soup to a blender in batches or use an immersion blender.
- Serving: I usually serve lentil soup with a grilled cheese or a large salad. You can also serve this on a bed of rice for a curry-like meal.
- Freezing: I like to keep at least a serving of frozen soup on hand at all times for quick last-minute meals, and this lentil stew is perfect for that. Let the soup cool to room temp before transfering to a freezer safe container or individual mason jars. Leave at least one inch open of at the top of the container to allow for expansion as it freezes. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- Leftovers are best within 4-5 days. Keep refrigerated in a closed container.
- Reheating: The soup thickens up a lot in the fridge but will thin some when reheated. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth as needed. Reheat on the stove over medium heat, or reheat individual servings in ~2 minutes in the microwave.
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Red Lentil Stew
- Dutch Oven or stock pot
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or other neutral oil
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced; adjust to taste
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger about one inch of ginger
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon
- 4 cups water
- 14.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 2 cups red lentils rinsed and sorted
- garnish with chopped cilantro and lime wedges
- Heat a Dutch oven or medium stock pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle with oil. Once hot, add the chopped yellow onion and carrot. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the onion is softened.
- Add in the garlic, ginger, and tomato paste. Saute until the garlic is aromatic and golden, about a minute.
- Add in the ras el hanout, salt, vegetable bouillon, stirring consistently for 30 seconds to taste the spices. Deglaze the pot with a splash of water, stirring to remove any stuck on bits.
- Add the remaining ingredients: water, coconut milk, red lentils. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Once simmering, reduce to a low simmer over low heat.
- Continue cooking uncovered until the lentils are softened, about 15 minutes. Taste for salt. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
- Red lentils: Orange lentils are a good substitute, but I don't recommend using green or brown lentils as they have a different texture and take longer to cook.
- Ras el hanout: This is a Morrocan spice blend that should be available at most grocery stores in the spice aisle. If needed, garam masala or curry powder can be used in place of ras el hanout for a similar flavor. If the ras el hanout blend contains salt, I recommend adjusting salt in the recipe to taste.
- Leftovers are best within 4-5 days. This soup freezes well for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge. The soup will thicken up when refrigerated or frozen, so add an extra splash of broth as needed to thin.
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Delicious, we made with grilled cheese and subbed with curry powder
Yum yum for the tum tum
🙂 Glad you liked it!