Vegan Red Lentil Stew

$4.28 recipe / $0.71 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.89 from 45 votes
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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 some. Well, I have to say that this Vegan Red Lentil Stew turned out phenomenal.

Serve this Vegan Red Lentil Stew 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.

Aso, 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 Vegan Red Lentil Stew so wonderfully 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

Top view of a bowl of Vegan Red Lentil Stew

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Vegan Red Lentil Stew

4.89 from 45 votes
This hearty Vegan Red Lentil Stew is packed with vegetables for tons of flavor, and will keep you warm and full in the cold winter weather!
Servings 6
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Total 50 minutes


  • 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)
  • 1/2 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)
  • 3/4 tsp salt ($0.05)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.02)


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • After it has simmered for 30 minutes give the pot a stir and add the salt, starting with 1/2 teaspoon. Add more if desired. I used about 3/4 teaspoon total. Serve hot!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


**I used vegetable soup base + water because it’s less expensive than canned or boxed broth.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 239.5kcalCarbohydrates: 37.6gProtein: 9.43gFat: 6.55gSodium: 1163.77mgFiber: 5.27g
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Side view of a bowl of Vegan Red Lentil Stew

Step By Step Photos

garlic and onion in pot
As always – dice the onion, mince the garlic. Cook both with olive oil over medium heat until soft.

tomato paste added to garlic and onion
Once 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 paste in pot
Continue 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).

bag of carrots and a potato
While 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.

lentils being rinsed in strainer
Also, 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.

potato, carrots and lentils added to pot
Add the potatoes, carrots, and lentils to the pot.

vegetable broth added to pot
Add 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 stew in pot
After 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.

Top view of a bowl of Vegan Red Lentil Stew
Serve hot!

Close up of a spoonful of Vegan Red Lentil Stew
Quite hearty and delicious! Vegan Red Lentil Stew for the win.

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  1. I made this recipe after surgery where I was on a fluid diet. This recipe has a good texture after pureeing, if anyone else is looking for that.

  2. This recipe is amazing. We’ve been making it for years now, and it’s such a quick recipe for a pretty decadent meal. We usually use chicken broth and throw in some type of protein (meatballs, sausages, chicken thighs). The base works well with pretty much any addition. Highly recommend!

  3. I’ve made this several times, this recipe is a winner! I sometimes change spice to suit tastes for others but it’s a fairly quick, hearty and tasty dish that even meat eaters will enjoy.

  4. I made this for rhe first time tonight. My lentils just disintegrated. Is this normal? lol.

    1. Red and yellow lentils do break down when cooking, which is what makes them ideal for stews. But total disintegration seems odd. I would check the recommended cooking time on the package and adjust — or just cook for a little less! If you like a sturdier lentil, you could substitute green or brown lentils, but they will definitely need more cooking time to soften than red/yellow, and even still, tend to hold their shape once cooked (so it might be more of a soup than a stew). ~Marion :)

  5. I’ve been making this recipe for years and am so appreciative of it. Not sure why I never commented or rated it before! I’m making a batch right now so figured I should finally rate it :)

  6. This has been my absolute FAVORITE way to eat lentils, EVER! I always go back to this recipe. Its stores well, it freezes well, I love to make a big pot of it and share it with others too! I do add a little bit of celery and an extra potato because I like lots of veggies. It is so versatile and great just as a base to add whatever you want to it. Thank you so much for sharing this (years ago LOL), I just wanted you to know that I STILL love it today! :)

  7. hello! I know this was posted years ago, but I was wondering if you cover while simmering, directions don’t say. I don’t remember what Ive done in the past becuase I’ve made this before and know it’s great! But I’m curious what you do about that. thanks!

  8. Do you think you could sub beef broth instead of vegetable? I ran out of chicken broth which is what I usually use. 

    1. Yes, I think beef broth would do fine with the other flavors in this stew. :)

      1. Thank you :) Made it tonight (with chicken bullion) and it was great. I subbed sweet potato instead of regular potato. We felt it was a little heavy on the cumin but we still enjoyed it!

    2. My family has COVID, so I made this soup to help us all feel better on this cold day. It was a major hit! My toddlers gobbled it up, and my husband said it was exactly what he needed. I used brown lentils because I couldn’t find red lentils at the store, and it turned out just fine. I suspect the red lentils make it slightly creamier, but we were all very happy with the final product.

  9. This sounds delish!  Since I don’t have tomato paste on hand, I will try drained, diced fired roasted tomatoes.  Also, I’m going to add what Claire S. did, since I always have kale and beans on hand. It’s snowing right now, in White Plains, NY, and a good time to make a hearty stew.

  10. Healthy and delicious. Warms my belly and my heart. I might add some black beans and kale next time to double down on protein and get some leafy greens in the mix.

  11. I doubled this soup. I love how flexible this soup is. Time to clear out fridge before doing another grocery run, so I used what I had: brown lentils, an onion, most of a green bell pepper, more than 1/2 pound carrots, 3 ribs of celery, several small-to-medium potatoes, a mix of fresh and powdered garlic, and crushed red pepper, (instead of cayenne). So comforting on this cool evening. I have enough food for quite a few meals. If only the cool evenings will last. . . .

  12. I absolutely love this recipe! I always have some in the freezer now – a staple. I’ve followed the recipe exactly at times and I’ve added things like kale or cabbage and always more garlic (love my garlic) at other times. Always delicious! Can’t wait to try your other vegan recipes. Thank you!!

  13. Great quick vegan meal! I added some chopped lacinato kale, used half the cumin and added a thumb of minced ginger and a touch of apple cider for a little complementary acidity. Fabulous, nutritious and economical!