vegan red lentil stew

$4.28 recipe / $0.71 serving

It’s soooo cold here! (read: below 75 degrees) So, I’ve been really into soups lately, if you can’t tell.

Earlier this week I got an email from Lindsay with a red lentil soup recipe that she had found on (link may be NSFW) and it looked scrumptious! Seeing that I had a big bag of red lentils in my cupboard, I had to make it.

I made a few changes to amp up the flavor a bit and I have to say it turned out really, really well. Serve it with some hearty bread (or pita like in the pictures) to make sure that you have complete proteins. Legumes + grains = all of the amino acids that you need.

Make sure you get red lentils and not brown or green for this recipe. Red lentils break down very quickly when cooked which is what makes this stew thick and hearty! Even though I probably over paid for these red lentils, can you believe how inexpensive this is? I mean, WOW.

Vegan Red Lentil Stew

Vegan Red Lentil Stew

4.8 from 17 reviews
vegan red lentil stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $4.28
Cost Per Serving: $0.71
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.24
  • 1 medium yellow onion $0.28
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 3 oz. tomato paste $0.26
  • 1 cup dry red lentils $1.20
  • ½ lb carrots $0.55
  • 1 medium potato $0.49
  • 6 cups vegetable broth** $0.78
  • 1 Tbsp cumin $0.15
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
  • ¾ tsp salt $0.05
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  1. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until soft and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the tomato paste and continue to stir and cook for about 3-4 minutes more. The tomato paste will caramelize during this time, which will make it sweeter and cause it to look slightly darker.
  2. While the ingredients in the first step are cooking, peel and dice the potato and carrots. Rinse the lentils. Once the tomato paste has caramelized, add the carrots, potato, and lentils to the pot.
  3. Also add 6 cups of vegetable broth, cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Give everything a good stir to make sure it’s mixed well. Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to high, and bring the soup to a boil. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to its lowest level and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. After it has simmered for 30 minutes give the pot a stir and add the salt, starting with ½ teaspoon. Add more if desired. I used about ¾ teaspoon total. Serve hot!
**I used vegetable soup base + water because it’s less expensive than canned or boxed broth.

Vegan Red Lentil Stew

Step By Step Photos

garlic onionAs always – dice the onion, mince the garlic. Cook both with olive oil over medium heat until soft.

tomato pasteOnce the onions are soft, add the tomato paste. It will start out very bright red like this. (Don’t toss the rest of the tomato paste in the can, it can be frozen and used later).

caramelized tomato pasteContinue to stir and cook the tomato paste with the onions for 3-4 minutes. It will get a little dry and turn a deeper shade of red. That’s what you want. Make sure to stir often (although continuously is not necessary).

carrot potatoWhile all of that is going on, peel and dice the potato and carrots. I used a half pound of carrots, which is about 3-4 medium carrots or half of that bag.

rinse lentilsAlso, as with any dry bean product, make sure to give the lentils a good rinse. They’re so small that they’d slip through the slits in my colander, so I used a wire mesh sieve.

add to tomatoAdd the potatoes, carrots, and lentils to the pot.

brothAdd six cups of vegetable broth, cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Stir everything well to make sure the tomato paste is dissolved in. Put a lid on top, turn the heat up to high, and let it come to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let it simmer there for 30 minutes (with the lid on).

simmered stewAfter it has simmered for 30 minutes, the lentils will have soaked up a lot of the liquid and gotten all nice and soft. Stir everything together. Add the salt, starting with just 1/2 teaspoon, give it a taste, and then add more if desired.

Vegan Red Lentil StewServe hot!

Vegan Red Lentil StewQuite hearty and delicious!


  1. Susan says:

    I just discovered your blog, and this was the very first recipe I tried. It was an instant hit around here, and I’ll be making another batch tomorrow–We love it that much! The only thing I changed was using sweet potato instead of white potato, which I didn’t have, and not adding any salt. It didn’t seem to need it. This will be a family favorite forever.

  2. I needed a soup to throw all my vegetables in before heading on break and this was perfect! I doubled the recipe and added a ton of mushrooms, it gives it a nice meaty flavor. Not quite as tasty as the Beth’s split pea or black bean lentil stew recipes, but definitely hits the spot!

  3. Miranda says:

    I just made this recipe but swapped out green lentils for the red, added peas and corn, and threw it all in the slow cooker. The end result was amazing!!!

  4. Elaine says:

    Last night I made the Bacon & Spinach Pasta with Parmesan, which was such a big hit that I had no leftovers to take for lunch today. So, I whipped up this Red Lentil Stew. It was surprisingly good! Almost everything I cook these days comes from this blog. Keep the awesome recipes coming!

  5. Christine says:

    Decent enough soup, I like that the ingredients are things that I pretty much always have on hand (except for tomato paste; luckily, I happened to have some in my pantry, but it’s rare for me). Plus I like how fast this soup is.

    The soup was… ok. I used chicken soup base instead of vegetable stock, since that’s what I had, perhaps that is why? It was good, but not amazing. I like how healthy it is, and the amount of fiber it has, but there’s lots of other soups I like better.

  6. The Red Lentil Stew is my favorite all time recipe. I don’t use oil though. Quick, easy, delicious and hearty. Everyone loves it especially in the winter.

  7. Onesti says:

    I make several of your baked oatmeal recipes on a regular basis for my family but this was the first dinner recipe of yours I tried. I just happen to have the ingredients on a cold night I was having serious dinner block. My curry-hating, meat-loving husband was skeptical but found it to be better than he expected. I loved it! Thanks Beth! Great recipe!

  8. Jenni O says:

    Yummmm!!! Love all your recipes, but this soup just hits the spot on a cool evening. So glad I found your website. I recommend it to everyone.

  9. So filling and delicious! Definitely making this again :)

  10. Nikki says:

    I’m thinking of making this Saturday to eat on Sunday. Does it reheat well? I always worry that the veggies will “melt” away. :)

  11. Angela says:

    Love making this for people, they all fall in love.

  12. Lindsay says:

    This is one my staples. Tonight I made it in preperation of Meatless Monday. Instead of a regular potato I added 1 medium sweet potato and grated (or riced) 1/2 a cauliflower head into it too. I also added 1 tablespoon of chipotle in adobo. I just put the whole can of chipotle in adobo in my food processor and then freeze it in an ice tray by the tablespoon. It is delicious! Nothing wrong with the original recipe either! Thanks for the recipes!

  13. Arran says:

    My favorites of the soups/stews I’ve done from here. Absolutely wonderful!

  14. Tamara says:

    We just made this last night and it’s absolutely DELISH! We didn’t have vegetable broth, so we substituted it with chicken broth and it worked out well. Thanks!

  15. Joellen says:

    Made this and my teen ate three bowls! I’m vegan and she is vegetarian – and this was a perfect meal for us and it made enough for us to have for lunch 2 days with me finishing it off for a late dinner last night. Scrumptious!

  16. Simon says:

    It works very well with homemade ham stock (it’s what I had available, left over from a slow cooked ham shank a couple of weeks back). I increased the smoked paprika from a teaspoon to a tablespoon as well, for the sole reason that I like smoked paprika, and threw some cheap frozen cauliflower and broccoli in for extra goodness.

    I found using ham stock there was no need to add extra salt.

  17. Jade says:

    Where can you find red lentils?

    • I think I had found mine at a produce market, but you can check places like Whole Foods, ethnic markets, or anywhere that you can buy beans in bulk.

  18. Murskit says:

    I’m trying this right now! Although I had to deviate from the original recipe. I could only find brown lentils and added 1/2 tbsp of curry powder to the mix and have it all stewing in my slow cooker.

    Tip for anyone who doesn’t have a mesh strainer:

    Use a needle to poke many small holes in the bag of lentils. Cut off one end of the bag and then run water drain through it. You’ll have to squeeze the bag around a little to make sure all of your lentils are sufficiently rinsed.

  19. Amelia says:

    Does this recipe freeze well? I just made a batch but realized I can’t eat it all by myself before it goes bad!

  20. Carmen says:

    I loved this!!!! I doubled it so that I could freeze a tonne for later (living out of home for the first time and working+studying) I love soup and I’m so excited.

    I made it, but was a little low on carrots so I added some extra potato, then I also added celery and some cut up tomatos. It added some extra veggies and bulked it up more. Then I could eat it for ages afterwards.

    YUMMM!!!! Currently eating it and loving it.

  21. Lynn says:

    Made this for dinner tonight – it is DELICIOUS! I didn’t have veggie broth, so I subbed chicken broth, and it was amazing. I will definitely be making this again!

  22. Rachel says:

    I love this recipe! It’s my absolute favourite and there’s so many variations you can make. Sometimes I add in beans or change the type of broth or add extra veggies.

  23. Audrey says:

    Filling and satisfying!

  24. Sarah B says:

    I combined this recipe with the Mexican Lentil Stew. I added a red bell pepper (on sale for 33 cents!), the spices listed in the Mexican stew, and topped it with crushed tortilla chips and cilantro. It was hearty yet light enough for summer.

  25. Joanna says:

    I made this for dinner and added kale because you know it sitting there in my fridge all lonely and I love kale. Talk about party in my mouth! Great recipe! Another winning recipe, Beth! Well done girlfriend!

  26. Joanna says:

    I made a big batch of this for dinner last night and added kale and lime. Turned out DELICIOUS! Another winning recipe, Beth. Well done!

  27. So, I came across this recipe because I had taken red lentils out 2 days ago and soaked them to make lentil burgers. Today I looked to find that they had started to sprout! so at 10 o’clock at night I decided to make this soup for the week so as not to waste the lentils! Thank you!

  28. YUM! Loved this recipe, very filling and sooo good for you! Thank you!!

  29. Made this soup a lot already! It’s incredible!

  30. New favorite soup! Thanks for the recipe!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Best. Soup. Ever.

    I’ve made it 3 times in the last month!

  32. Made this recipe and doubled it for extra meals! OMG it tasted wonderful! I sent an email to friends and family to check this recipe out.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I just made this today and it came out amazing! I had a few pounds of extra red lentils laying around, so I thought I’d put them to good use. I added curry powder, a tablespoon of butter, and about 5oz. of tomato paste. While I was making it, my grandmother asked to try some and said she loved it and that I should make more for the whole family. It’s really filling and cheap. Great recipe.

  34. Andrianna says:

    Just made this – delicious! I used sweet potatoes instead of regular and threw in a splash of wine and a pinch of red pepper flakes, too! This recipe will definitely be made again during the coming months (Seattle winters are pretty gloomy, this soup will be most welcome).

  35. Becca – You can try using any type of pureed tomato product, but you might want to add double since it won’t be concentrated like tomato paste. Also, try reducing the broth just a little to make up for the added volume of the pureed tomatoes.

  36. Becca Weber says:

    Do you know of any good substitutes for tomato paste? I don’t know if I can find it easily here in Israel.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the quick response!!))

  38. Anonymous – Absolutely, chicken broth would be great :)

  39. Anonymous says:

    Do you think this would be okay with chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth?

  40. Anonymous says:

    Made it, ate it, loved it.

  41. This came out delicious! Wow! Can’t believe I just cooked this masterpiece!

  42. Anonymous says:

    that’s pretty much how i make it, except no potato and i puree at the end. i also add fresh lemon juice and dried or fresh mint, to make it Turkish!

  43. I made this tonight and it was FABULOUS. I thought it wouldn’t be very flavorful, but it packed a punch! First time trying red lentils, and I am hooked. Thank you so much!

  44. Claire says:

    I think everyone in my neighborhood must be making this because the red lentil bin was nearly empty at my grocery store today! Can’t wait to try it!

  45. LOL are you joking about the temperature outside? Here in Utah we think 45 is really nice weather, as long as it’s sunny. Anyway. Thank you for a great site with good VEGAN recipes.

  46. Thank you for making something us vegans can eat! (even though many of your recipes can be easily converted over..yet another reason I adore your site). I dig lentils cheap, healthy and filling AND I’ve been itching to make soup. Perfect!

  47. Anonymous says:

    another variation would be to add some coconut milk towards the end of cooking…gives it a great richness.

  48. Bonjour, bravo pour les jolies recettes que vous partagez avec nous.
    Votre soupe de lentilles rouges, me plait beaucoup.
    Un bonjour de la PROVENCE, FRANCE

  49. Yum! I’m so excited that the one type of lentils I’ve found so far (China!) are the red ones. I also love that the ingredients are very easy to find everywhere (minus cayenne and paprika, but I CAN get those!). So excited to be making this tonight with a little bit of pork!

  50. Love red lentil soup. This is like a jazzed up version of the one I make. I make one with just carrot, cumin, garlic and onion a lot, but caramelize the onions first. I always add homemade curried croutons as a flourish at the end. Also good with a blob of plain yogurt added. Toasted pita stuffed with cheddar or yogurt cheese is also a good accompaniment. Will definitely try your version!

  51. this is such a comforting dish. I love the use of red lentils because unlike other lentils, its very quick in cooking and has milder taste. the weather in dallas is still warm so not appropriate for soup :(

  52. I make a red lentil Dahl that is yummy.. it’s my sons favorite. I will try this. I always have lentils on hand! :)

  53. If you like the red lentils- another direction you can take them is mulligatawny stew. Very similar ingredients but takes an indian twist.

  54. Goele says:

    Looks delicious! I always use canned lentils because it’s so easy, but I’ll make an exception for this one.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I find that soup develops better flavor if I bloom the spices with the veggies before the liquid goes in.

  56. Kate says:

    That sounds fabulous, and I think I have most of the ingredients already. I’m going to have to wait a bit, though, as my water is apparently turned off due to a nearby water main break. Thanks for the recipe though!

  57. I actually just ran out of lentils this week and need to stop by the Indian grocery store this weekend. I love grabbing my spices and dried goods there in bulk!

    This looks so yummy and perfect for Fall.

  58. Caroline says:

    Wow this looks so simple and good! I know it defeats the purpose/ name but I’ll probably add a tablespoon of cold butter stirred in at the end to give it a nice subtle richness. It’s a trick a lot of people use for healthy soups and tomato sauces and it’s truly incredible! Makes the soup taste creamy, rich, and decadent for really just a miniscule (1 tbsp proportionate to the entire pot!) amount of butter!

  59. Shannon – Yes, the texture will be quite different. Red lentils cook up very soft and mushy and pretty much dissolve into the stew, whereas regular (brown or green) lentils will, for the most part, stay whole leaving you with more broth-like soup.

  60. This looks great! I hope I can find red lentils. I usually can only find them if we go into the big city…they certainly aren’t local. We love regular lentil soup too. Thanks for posting!

  61. Shannon Sparks says:

    I can’t find red or green lentils here in my area. If I use regular lentils will there be a big difference in taste or texture?

  62. Anonymous says:

    MMM… This looks delicious!!! Can’t wait to make it! Thanks.

  63. Oh this soup look awesome! I’m definitely going to be trying this one.

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