Fall, recipes, Soups & Stews, Vegan, Winter

Hearty Vegan Lentil Stew

This hearty vegan lentil stew is a simple, healthy, and budget-friendly recipe that is perfect for the fall and winter season. By using a few staple ingredients like lentils, broth, some spices, and veggies, we’ll make a comforting and wholesome meal in no time. 

Served with some bread on the side and maybe some crispy tofu or chickpeas on top, this recipe has the potential to become your new favorite winter meal.

If you love comforting stews and soups, make sure to also check out my creamy red lentil soup with coconut milk or my simple tomato soup with canned tomatoes!

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A bowl of vegan lentil stew served with crispy tofu cubes and roasted bread.
This comforting and wholesome vegan lentil stew is the perfect meal for chilly fall and winter days.

About this Recipe

Today’s recipe is inspired by my mom’s incredibly delicious lentil stew. Well, actually it’s almost the exact same recipe, except that we’ll make it plant-based today.

While my mum makes the stew with bacon and serves it with German sausages on top, I wanted to make a meatless version of this comforting meal. Even though I love the taste of bacon and those sausages in this recipe, both a pretty high in cholesterol, purines and saturated fat.

But when we skip both, we’ll also miss out on their yummy salty, smoky flavor. And without these flavors this soup can easily taste a bit boring. But luckily there’s a secret ingredient which we can use to recreate this smoky, salty flavor and that is smoked salt.

You can find smoked salt at almost any grocery store and, of course, online. While it is a bit more expensive than regular salt, it will last you forever and is the perfect meatless substitute for the smoky, salty bacon flavor in stews like this one.

I also like to serve this recipe with some crispy tofu cubes on top. Therefore, I carefully press out the tofu, cut it into mini cubes and pan-fry these cubes with a little bit of oil over medium-high heat for seven to ten minutes. 

Alternatively, you can also roast some chickpeas in the oven or on the stove or serve your stew with a plant-based sausage as a chowder. 

A bowl of vegan lentil stew served with crispy tofu cubes and roasted bread.
A budget-friendly and easy to make recipe perfect for the fall and winter months.


  • Green or brown lentils – I like to choose those, which don’t need to be soaked before cooking. But if your lentils need to be soaked first, make sure to do so.
  • One or two bay leaves, one clove of garlic and a vegetable bouillon cube
  • A medium-sized yellow onion
  • A pinch of smoked salt as our secret weapon for a smoky, salty flavor
  • Tomato paste for those umami flavors
  • Soup vegetables like carrots, leek, and celeriac – I like to buy those prepacked bunches since they consist of a mix of all three vegetables.
  • A small potato
  • Salt, pepper and vinegar to taste
  • For serving: fresh parsley, some bread, tofu, roasted chickpeas or a plant-based sausages

You’ll find the exact measurements in the recipe card below. They make two servings but can be modified as desired.

Please note, I always base portion sizes on my personal dietary needs (presumably those of the average woman). However, you or perhaps one of your fellow eaters may need more or less than I do. So, feel free to adjust.

Ingredients for a vegan lentil stew: lentils, yellow onion, smoked salt, soup vegetables, tomato paste, bouillon cube, bay leaf and garlic.
Ingredients for this vegan lentil stew.

Which Lentils to Use for a Lentil Stew?

There is quite a wide variety of lentils to choose from when making a lentil stew. While the red ones are often used for curries or soups, like my red lentil soup with coconut milk, varieties like Beluga lentils or Puy lentils often go into lentil salads or are served as a side dish.

For the hearty German lentil stew, I would recommend using brown or green lentils. But like my mom, though, I tend to use plate lentils most of the time, since you don’t have to soak them

However, I pre-cook them while I clean, chop, and sauté the vegetables. This way, they have the same cooking time left as the potatoes, carrots, and the celeriac when we add them to the soup. 

That said, feel free to use regular brown or green lentils instead. But make sure to soak them beforehand if you need to. 

Brown and green lentils in a bowl.
What lentils to use for a lentil stew?

How to Make this Recipe

To make this hearty vegan lentil stew, you’ll need a pot or saucepan, a large frying pan, a sharp knife as well as a cutting board.

First, in a pot, add the lentils, 750ml or 3 cups of water with a pinch of salt, a peeled clove of garlic, the bay leaf and the bouillon cube and bring it to a boil. Once the water boils, you can reduce the heat and let it simmer with the lid closed for about 20 minutes.

A cast iron pot filled with lentils, water, a clove of garlic, a bouillon cube and two bay leaves.
Step one: Pre-cook your lentils with some water, a garlic clove, a bouillon cube and one or two bay leaves.

In the meantime, you can start to prepare the vegetables. First peel the onion and finely dice it. In a pan, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil, the onions as well as a quarter teaspoon of smoked salt and sauté them over medium heat for about 10 minutes. 

It takes some time for the onions to develop their full flavor, so make sure to give them all the time they need. If you sense that they are about to burn, just add a sip of hot water and turn down the heat a bit. 

Meanwhile, you can wash, peel, and chop up the remaining vegetables as well as the potato. Then add the tomato puree to the pan, stir well and keep on frying for another minute or two before you add the chopped vegetables. 

Sauté the veggies for three to five minutes before adding this onion-vegetable-mixture to your lentils. Give it a good stir, cover with the lid and let the stew simmer at low heat for at least 30 minutes or longer.

Process shot showing a pan with sautéed onions.
Step 2: Sauté the diced onions with a pinch of smoked salt.

How to Serve this Recipe

After 30 minutes, your lentils and vegetables will be cooked and ready to serve. If you like, you can puree the stew with a hand blender just a little bit to make it a bit thicker and creamier, which I like a lot.

Then season to taste with some salt, pepper and of course some vinegar and serve it with your chowder and sides of choice.

One of my favorite vegan chowders for this stew are fried tofu cubes. Therefore, squeeze out the liquid in your tofu as well as possible and cut it into small cubes. In a pan, heat up one or two teaspoons of oil, add the tofu cubes with a generous pinch of salt and fry them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Alternatively, you can roast some chickpeas in the oven or on the stove and serve them on top of your stew. Or you can buy some plant-based sausages and use these as chowder. 

I would also chop up some parsley and add them as a garnish. Uh, and don’t forget the bread! You definitely need some bread with hearty vegan stew. So choose a delicious sour dough or whole wheat bread and, if you like, roast it in a pan before serving.

A bowl of vegan lentil stew served with crispy tofu cubes and roasted bread.
Serve this lentil stew with some bread and your side dishes of choice.

Here’s How to Save this Recipe or Make It in Advance

If you have leftovers or want to make a few extra servings ahead of time, you can transfer the remaining lentil stew into one or more containers and store them in the refrigerator for several days. However, I would prefer to reheat the leftovers on the stove rather than in the microwave. It just works better.

If you prefer to freeze the leftovers, you can do that too. To do this, simply transfer the stew into a container or freezer bag and place it in your freezer after it has cooled. It will keep there for about three months.

Your Common Questions Answered

In case there are any questions left, I hope these FAQs will help you. If not, feel free to drop your question in the comments below.

Which lentils should I use for a lentil stew?

I recommend using brown or green lentils for a lentil stew. Depending on the package instructions, check whether the lentils need to be soaked in water beforehand. Otherwise, it is recommended to pre-cook the lentils for about 15 to 25 minutes before adding the vegetables.

What can I serve with a vegan lentil stew?

Plant-based toppings such as crispy tofu cubes, plant-based sausages, or roasted chickpeas go well with the lentil stew. And make sure to serve this stew with some fresh or roasted bread.

Can I freeze lentil stew leftovers?

Yes, you can. Simply transfer the stew to a suitable container or a freezer bag and put it in your freezer after cooling. The stew will keep there for up to three months.

Save for later

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Bookmark this recipe for later!

You might also like

I hope you like this hearty vegan lentil stew and that you give it a try soon. If you have any further questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments, or send me a massage via email at contact@julesbalancedrecipes.com or Instagram (@julesbalancedrecipes). 

In case, you’ve tried this recipe, I’d appreciate your comment and 5-star-rating for this recipe. All you need to do is to click on the stars in the recipe card below.

And if you loved this recipe, you may also like some of my other healthy comfort food recipes like …

Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,

A bowl of vegan lentil stew served with crispy tofu cubes and roasted bread.

Vegan Lentil Stew

Julia Schmitt
This wholesome lentil soup doesn't require any bacon at all and still tastes wonderfully tangy and savory, thanks to a pinch of smoked salt. As meatless alternatives to the sausage, I recommend serving crispy tofu cubes, roasted chickpeas, or some plant-based sausages as a chowder, and fresh or toasted bread on the side.
Make sure to soak the lentils before if needed.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine german
Servings 2 Servings
Calories 201 kcal


  • 1 pot
  • 1 large sauté pan
  • hand blender (not required)


  • 125 g brown or green lentils (4.4 oz or ½+⅛ cup)
  • 750 ml water (3 cups or 25.36 fl oz)
  • salt
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • ½ cube vegetable bouillon cube (Alternatively substitute the bouillon cube and water with 750ml / 3 cups of vegetable broth)
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • ¼ tsp smoked salt
  • 20 g tomato paste (1 tbsp)
  • 300 g soup vegetables (mix of mostly carrots, some celeriac and leek – about 10.5 oz)
  • 1 small potato
  • pepper, salt
  • 1 tbsp vinegar


Pre-Cook the Lentil

  • In a pot, add the water, lentils, a pinch of salt, the bay leaf, bouillon cube and the peeled garlic clove and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat and let the lentils simmer with the lid closed for at least 15, but preferably 20 to 30 minutes.
    A cast iron pot filled with lentils, water, a clove of garlic, a bouillon cube and two bay leaves.

Sauté the Vegetables

  • Meanwhile, peel and finely dice the onion. In a pan, add a teaspoon of oil as well as the onions and the smoked salt. Sauté the onions over medium heat for 10 minutes. If needed add a sip of hot water every now and then to prevent them from burning.
    Process shot showing a pan with sautéed onions.
  • In the meantime, clean or peel and chop the vegetables and potato into small cubes. Next, add the tomato puree to the onions and sauté for another minute or two before adding the remaining vegetables. Sauté for another 3-5 minutes.
    Finely chopped vegetables in a pan.

Lentil Stew

  • Now, add the vegetable mixture to the lentils. Cover with the lit and let the stew simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes.
    Lentil stew in a cast iron pot.
  • Before serving make sure to remove the bay leaf and roughly blend the stew with a hand blender if desired. Then season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar and serve it with your chowders and sides of choice. (For more information check out the blog post). 
    A bowl of vegan lentil stew served with crispy tofu cubes and roasted bread.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 201kcalCarbohydrates: 42.3gProtein: 19gFat: 3.8gSaturated Fat: 0.5gSodium: 795.6mgPotassium: 657.8mgFiber: 16.5gSugar: 8.2gVitamin A: 935IUVitamin C: 27.1mgCalcium: 104.8mgIron: 1.8mg
Keyword lentil soup, smoked salt, stew
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