Creamy French Lentil Stew
This is one of my all time favourite vegetarian meals. It is hearty and rich in flavour and reminds me of French country side every time I make it. It is a great meal for this time of year and I especially love that this is a meal my kids absolutely adore. I usually serve it with a mix of quinoa and rice and love that it is just as good on day two!
The type of lentil you use is important since different types of lentils cook differently. While red lentils are great for soups and stews as they more or less “disappear” once cooked, black and brown lentils (such as the puy lentils I used here) retain their shape much better and are perfect when cooked al dente. This also makes them the best type of lentils for salads. Nutritionally lentils are rich in fibre and plant protein as well as a wide array of essential minerals, making them perfect for vegetarian and vegan meals.
I like to soak my lentils for at least an hour (preferably more) before cooking. Not only does this reduce their cooking time to just a few minutes, but it also makes the lentils healthier in the sense that pre-soaking reduces their phytic acid levels. Essentially, this means your body us able to better digest and absorb more nutrients. Simply leave your lentils covered in water with a sprinkle of salt or lemon juice (optional) for a few hours. So easy! However, if you’re pressed for time and feel overwhelmed by the pre soaking, don’t worry. Take it one step at a time and go for tinned lentils instead. Progress, not perfection!
Adapted from this recipe
- ¾ cup puy lentils (other black lentils work too)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp coconut oil or butter
- 300 gm (10 oz) mushrooms, chopped
- 350 ml (1½ cup) vegetable stock
- salt + pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh thyme)
- 3 tbsp white wine
- 2 tsp tamari sauce
- 2-3 stems kale (I prefer dark green cavolo nero kale)
- Toasted almond flakes to top (optional)
- bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook the lentils until they're cooked al dente. This usually takes just a few minutes if you have pre-soaked the lentils. And if not, around 15 mins or so. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
- Melt coconut oil in a pot and sauté onions for a few minute until translucent. Add garlic and give it a stir.
- Add chopped mushrooms and leave for 1 minute without stirring. Then add salt and pepper and stir before leaving for another minute or two.
- Once the mushrooms become nice and shiny, add thyme, tamari sauce and white wine and stir well.
- Then add vegetable broth and reduce to low heat. Leave to simmer for a few minutes.
- Transfer half of the mushrooms mixture to a blender and blend until very smooth. Transfer the smooth mixture back into the pot.
- Add lentils and kale and stir, before leaving it to simmer for a few minutes.
- Season to taste and serve warm with quinoa or rice and add a sprinkle of toasted almonds.