This hearty vegan lentil stew is packed with plant-based protein and combines frugal lentils with mushrooms (or other veggies) and an aromatic sauce (primarily made of pantry staples). It’s then served over creamy mashed potatoes for a wholesome, comforting lunch or dinner! Best of all, this meal is gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and packed with nutrients.
Hearty Vegan Lentil Stew with Mushrooms and Mashed Potatoes
In my eyes, any dish that works piled over mashed potato is a big win (like vegan goulash and meatballs with gravy). However, this lentil stew goes one step further because, along with being wholly cozy and comforting, this recipe is made almost entirely of pantry staples and jam-packed with plant-based protein and fiber to help keep you feeling satisfied for hours.
Lentil recipes are one of my automatic go-to’s for simple, satisfying meals. Lentils are inexpensive, easy to cook and taste delicious when made into lentil dishes like one-pot lentil dal, lentil okra gumbo, lentil bolognese, and this hearty lentil stew (there’s never a wrong time for lentils and potatoes). Plus, you can make this recipe from dried or canned lentils! The resulting dish is not only meal-prep friendly for the fridge but also freezes wonderfully.
This lentil stew recipe is Incredibly simple to prepare with a bit of chopping, sautéing, then leaving everything to gently simmer to perfection. Meanwhile, boil and mash the potatoes – voila! In under 45 minutes, you have a hearty, rich vegan stew on your table! Perfect for enjoying on meatless Mondays, midweek meals, and at dinner parties. Plus, top it off with finely chopped pickles for the ‘cherry on top,’ so to speak.
The lentil stew:
- Lentils: Green or brown lentils (adjust the cooking time accordingly) are best. Red lentils will be far mushier. I’d avoid Puy lentils, as they don’t soften enough.
- Mushrooms: Use the chopped mushrooms of your choice for an umami-rich lentil and mushroom stew. Alternatively, use chopped carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato for this hearty winter stew (adjust the cooking time accordingly).
- Aromatics: You’ll need fresh garlic cloves and onion.
- Liquid seasonings: You’ll need white wine (optional), soy sauce (or tamari/ coconut aminos for GF), and balsamic vinegar.
- Herbs: I used dried parsley, thyme, and oregano. If you want to use fresh herbs, adjust the quantity accordingly (around one tablespoon of each).
- Seasonings: All you need is salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (to taste).
- Vegetable broth: Use vegetable broth of a stockpot/powder with water. Adjust the amount of sodium used based on the sodium in the broth.
- Coconut milk: Add a splash of canned coconut milk for extra creaminess.
- Cornstarch: To thicken the lentil stew sauce. Alternatively, use arrowroot flour.
- Oil: For sauteing the aromatics. For an oil-free version, use a little water or vegetable broth instead.
The mashed potatoes:
- Potatoes: I recommend using Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes – or other starchy/all-purpose spuds.
- Coconut milk: Full-fat canned coconut milk makes wonderfully creamy vegan mash without tasting like coconut. However, feel free to use the dairy-free milk of your choice. I recommend adding 1 tbsp of oil to the latter (almond, oat, rice milk, etc.), as their fat content is lower.
- Nutmeg: No German mashed potatoes are complete without nutmeg!
- Salt & Pepper
- Olive oil OR butter: (optional) You can drizzle a little oil or melted vegan butter into the mash for added silkiness.
Head over to my post for vegan mashed potatoes for all my top tips for the best mash!
Optional add-ins and recipe variations:
- More vegetables: You can load up this lentil stew recipe with as many veggies as you’d like. Other best options include peas, celery, zucchini, and leek.
- Spinach/Kale: Add it in the last couple of minutes, stirring until just wilted before serving. Alternatively, use other greens like Swiss chard or collard greens (add 5-10 minutes before the stew is ready).
- Tomato paste: Just a tablespoon or two can add depth to the sauce.
- More protein: Not that this stew needs it. However, feel free to add your favorite vegan meat alternative like vegetarian/ vegan sausage.
- Sugar: A pinch of sugar (coconut or vegan brown sugar) or a drizzle of maple syrup can help balance the flavors when added to taste.
- Other spices: If you want to experiment with different spices, I recommend trying cumin and possibly a pinch of cinnamon.
- Lemon juice: Add in a squeeze (or more) of lemon juice before serving the stew for extra ‘bright’ flavor and depth.
- Dairy-free yogurt: TO swirl into the vegan lentil stew when serving for extra creaminess.
Please read the recipe card below for the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information.
How to Make Vegan Lentil Stew
- First, rinse and soak the lentils. Then, place them in a bowl covered with lukewarm water for 15 minutes before discarding the water. If you have the time, I recommend soaking them for at least 1-2 hours (up to 24- read FAQs).
- Meanwhile, chop the onion, garlic, mushrooms (or other veg). Then, heat the oil (or water/broth) in a large skillet/frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes over medium heat until beginning to become translucent.
- Then, add the mushrooms, herbs, white wine (optional), balsamic vinegar, soy sauce (or tamari/coconut aminos), stir, and sauté for a further 3-5 minutes.
- Next, add the lentils and 3-4 cups of vegetable broth. Mix and cook over medium-low heat until the lentils are tender (usually 20-25 minutes).
If needed, add a little more broth while the lentils cook to ensure it is still ‘saucy.’
- Once tender, combine the cornstarch and a splash of coconut milk in a small bowl before adding to the pan. Then cook for a further minute or until the mixture thickens. Finally, taste the stew and adjust the seasonings if needed (soy sauce, pepper, chili flakes) before serving over the mashed potatoes. Serve the lentils and potatoes warm, garnished with chopped pickles and fresh herbs (optional).
The Mashed Potatoes
- After adding the lentils to the pan, peel and chop the potatoes. Then, transfer them to a large pot covered with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium and cook for around 15 minutes, or until tender.
- Then, remove from the heat, drain the liquid, and add the coconut milk, nutmeg, and salt, and pepper to the pan. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes to your desired consistency. Optionally add a little oil or vegan butter for silkier mashed potatoes.
What to Serve with Lentil Stew?
I love enjoying this dish with a bowl piled high with creamy mashed potatoes. However, there are several other sides to enjoy with this vegetarian lentil stew, including:
- With bread: A gluten-free crusty loaf or French bread (optionally with vegan butter) OR flatbread like naan or pita. Garlic bread would also work.
- Cornbread: This vegan cornbread is perfect for mopping up the lentil stew sauce.
- Grains: Swap out the mashed potatoes for rice or quinoa.
- Salad: For a lighter side, serve with a leafy green salad
How to Make Ahead and Store
Make ahead: You can prepare the mashed potatoes up to 3 days in advance and store them in the fridge (or up to 3 months in the freezer). You can even cook the entire dish a day in advance, as this stew tastes even better on day two!
Store: Allow the lentil stew and mashed potatoes to cool, then store in separate airtight containers in the fridge for between 4-5 days.
Freeze: Allow it to cool and then separate it into portions (either in airtight tubs OR a large silicone muffin mold – transferred to a Ziplock after frozen). Freeze for up to three months. Allow the lentils and potatoes to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Reheat: Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through. Optionally with an extra splash of water, broth, or dairy-free milk if needed.
Can I use canned lentils?
Yes, however, if using canned lentils, you don’t need to cook them for as long. Instead, I recommend simmering the stew sauce without the lentils for 10 minutes, then adding the lentils for 10 minutes. That gives the sauce a chance to develop flavors while not turning the lentils into mush. Also, make sure to reduce the amount of broth accordingly.
Do you need to soak lentils?
Not necessarily. However, there are several benefits to doing so. For example, soaking lentils can help deactivate the anti-nutrients within the legumes (helping to reduce bloat/gas after eating legumes and increase the mineral absorption rate). It can also make them generally easier to digest AND reduce the cooking time. You can leave them soaking for up to 24hrs.
Can I make the stew in an Instant Pot?
Yes, though I haven’t tried, so I can’t guarantee the results. However, based on experience with other dishes, I recommend sautéing the ingredients (as written in the recipe) in the IP. Then, add the lentils and broth, close the lid, and cook on MANUAL for 13-14 minutes. Allow the pressure to release for 5 minutes before manually ‘quick releasing’ it. Then stir in the coconut milk and cornstarch mixture and use the SAUTE function for a further minute (or until the stew thickens), stirring constantly.
- Adjust the lentil cooking time: I used brown lentils, which take 20-25 minutes after soaking (35+ without in many cases). Black lentils usually have a similar cooking time, though I’ve found that green lentils typically take longer (Puy lentils can take double the time in some cases).
- Be careful not to boil the lentils: It can cause them to fall apart and become mushy.
- For more sauce: Make sure to add extra vegetable broth to the pan and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
- For a creamy lentil stew: Blend (or use an immersion blender for just a few seconds) a portion of the stew for a thicker, creamier consistency.
More Vegan Pulse and Lentil Dishes
- Mexican pinto bean stew
- Cheesy rice and bean casserole
- White bean potato soup
- Mujadara Lebanese lentils and rice
- Lentil Enchiladas
- Red lentil dahl
- Lentil moussaka
If you try this vegan lentil stew recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan #elavegan – I love seeing them.
Vegan Lentil Stew
- 1 cup (190 g) dry lentils (see notes)
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1 tbsp oil (for frying)
- 3 tbsp (40 ml) white wine (optional)
- 3-4 cups (750-1000 ml) vegetable broth
- 2 cups (135 g) mushrooms sliced (see notes)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp each of dried parsley, thyme, and oregano (use more, if fresh)
- 1 splash of coconut milk canned (for extra creaminess)
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (to thicken)
- Sea salt, black pepper, and chili flakes to taste
- Chopped pickles to taste (optional)
- 4 medium-sized (600 g) potatoes
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut milk canned (see notes)
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg (or more/less to taste)
- Black pepper, sea salt to taste
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.Rinse lentils under running water. I prefer to soak the lentils for at least 15 minutes in lukewarm water (discard the water afterwards).
- Meanwhile, chop the onion, garlic, mushrooms (see notes). Heat oil in a skillet/frying pan, stir in the diced onion, the minced garlic, and fry for 3 minutes over medium heat.
- Add mushrooms, dried parsley, thyme, oregano, white wine (optional), balsamic vinegar, soy sauce (or tamari/coconut aminos to taste), and fry for a further 3-5 minutes.
- Now add the lentils and 3-4 cups of vegetable broth and cook on low-medium heat (add more broth for a saucier stew) until the lentils are tender (about 20-25 minutes, if soaked beforehand).
- In the meantime, peel and chop potatoes, transfer them to a pot with water + salt and bring to a boil. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until tender, drain. Transfer back to the pot, add coconut milk, nutmeg, black pepper, and sea salt to taste, and mash with a potato masher (don't use a food processor or blender).
- Once the lentils are tender, mix a generous splash of coconut milk and cornstarch in a small bowl and add this mixture to the lentil stew. Cook for a further 1 minute, or until the desired thickness is reached. Season again with soy sauce (if needed), black pepper, and chili flakes.
- Serve warm, garnish with chopped pickles and fresh herbs (optional).
- I typically use brown lentils, which cook in about 20-25 minutes (if soaked beforehand, though).
- If you don't like mushrooms, you can make this lentil stew with chopped carrots or pumpkin instead.
- You can use any other plant-based milk, however, I would recommend adding at least 1 tbsp of oil if you use e.g. almond milk, oat milk, or rice milk since canned coconut milk is higher in fat.
- Recipe serves 4. Nutrition facts are for one serving with mashed potatoes.
- The recipe was originally published in May 2018 and was inspired by Minimalistbaker.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
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