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On white marble a white ramekin with lentil stew. Grey cloth beside it.

The Best Lentil Stew

Hearty, comforting, and very flavorful, this is the best lentil stew I ever made. It's a great way to beat cold weather, tastes even better the next day, and freezes wonderfully! You can use bacon and chorizo or make it completely vegetarian. 

  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 3 tablespoons oil (I use sunflower)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 small red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cups broth (veal, chicken, or vegetable)
  • 2 cups dry brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped, with juice
  • 4 oz. bacon
  • 2-3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish


  1. Soak the lentils in a large bowl covering them with cold tap water. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil and sweat the onion, pepper, and celery on low heat. You want to let them soften and release liquid (sweat), but not let them brown.
  3. Add salt and pepper, carrots, and 2 cups of broth. Cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes over low heat.
  4. Add 1 more cup broth, lentils, and tomatoes and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  5. In a small skillet, cook the bacon strips for 2 or 3 minutes until they are a little brown and have released some fat.
  6. Drain and add them to the pot together with the paprika. Stir to mix and continue cooking. 
  7. Keep on simmering, checking seasonings, and adding more broth if you feel it's necessary. The amount depends on the type of lentils you use and how much the soaking process softened them. 
  8. Check to see if the lentils are fully cooked and tender, and adjust the simmering time until the bite is to your liking. 
  9. Ladle the stew into bowls, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve.
  10. Or better yet, refrigerate until the next day, and reheat before eating it. The flavors will be amalgamated and richer. 


Lentils: don't use quick-cooking lentils as they will probably disintegrate before the rest of the ingredients are done.

My best advice when it comes to lentil stew: Eat it the next day

I cook it until it's just done until the lentils are almost al dente.  I then leave the whole thing to cool in the pot until the next day, and I cook it again for half an hour or more, depending on how I want the lentils.

That overnight rest deepens the flavor as only time can. They become friends and exchange subtleties until the flavor is perfect. This is especially important with the chorizo and the bacon. They will lose some of their fat slowly and it will become part of the juices. Simply wonderful.

And lentil stew can be frozen. So keep a few containers with the right servings and enjoy it any time you want!

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Soaking time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: International


  • Serving Size: 1/8
  • Calories: 334
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Sodium: 889.6 mg
  • Fat: 11.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 43.4 g
  • Fiber: 8.1 g
  • Protein: 17 g
  • Cholesterol: 11.7 mg

Keywords: lentil stew