Easy Vegetarian Lentil Stew

5 from 9 votes
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This easy lentil stew is tomato-based and spiced with curry powder and aromatics. It takes merely 10 minutes to prepare and yields a creamy, rich, and hearty stew that is tasty enough to serve as a main. Make it ahead of time so you can have nutrition-packed meals throughout the week! {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

Easy Vegetarian Lentil Stew | recipes | gluten-free | vegan | curry | side dish | main dish |

Week-ahead meal planning is probably THE hot thing in the food world right now. I love the idea but cannot fully commit to it. Because I love my meals, especially vegetables, to be freshly prepared. Maybe I’m spoiled by being a food blogger, blessed with the privilege of constantly testing new recipes. The result is that I put more homemade meals on the table as part of my job.

But that’s not entirely true. In reality, no matter whether I’m testing a recipe or not, I still cook fresh vegetables for lunch and dinner almost every day. It’s just a part of Chinese culture that’s deeply rooted in my veins-a meal is not complete without freshly cooked veggies.

No, I don’t often cook large batches of full meals that last me a week. However, there are many things I do to make it easier to put freshly made food on our dinner table. For example, I cook larger batches of stir-fry sauce ahead of time, so I can make way-better-than-takeout dishes in 15 minutes. I make extra braised meat and freeze serving-size portions, so I can serve dinner quickly by simply cooking one veggie dish and heating up the meat. This lentil stew became a regular staple on our family menu this year, when I started to follow a healthier lifestyle.

Easy Vegetarian Lentil Stew | recipes | gluten-free | vegan | curry | side dish | main dish |

Since moving from Beijing to Austin back in 2015, I gained 20 pounds within one year. I guess I adapted to American food a bit too eagerly, by loading up on years’ worth of donuts, fried chicken, pizza, and cheeseburgers. After our Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts in 2016, I found out I couldn’t fit into half of my old clothes anymore. I finally reached a point that I decided to lose weight.

I’ve been loosely following Tim Ferriss’ famous Slow Carb Diet on and off over the past six months. If you’ve never heard of the Slow Carb Diet, it is a diet that allows you to eat just meat, beans, and low-starch veggies until you’re full. Fruits, desserts, and starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, rice, and bread are not allowed. Except on “binge day”, which happens once a week. On this day you are allowed to eat anything, from a stack of pancakes to a one-pound steak, until you’re happy.

After six months, I was happy to find that I’d lost 10 pounds. But eventually the diet didn’t stick. After all, it’s difficult to abandon the rice, noodles, and fruits that I’ve been eating growing up. But I did fall in love with the beans.

Easy Vegetarian Lentil Stew | recipes | gluten-free | vegan | curry | side dish | main dish |

This lentil stew is one of our favorites. It’s so simple to make that I never need to read the recipe when I’m cooking.

You start by sautéing plenty of aromatics to create the flavor base. I use onion, garlic, and ginger most of the time. But I also add carrots and celery whenever I have them on hand. Then you add the curry powder and tomato paste and toast them until very fragrant. Lastly, add the canned tomato, chicken stock, and lentils. Simply cover and simmer for 30 minutes. At the end, you will have 10 cups of delicious lentil stew that will last you a week. One of my default things to add to the stew is Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes. They add an amazing smokiness to the stew and make the broth very rich.

Easy Vegetarian Lentil Stew Cooking Process

You can serve the lentil stew as a main dish. But more often than not, I serve it as a side, as a replacement for rice or as an addition to the rice. It reduces carb consumption and adds plant-based protein to my meals. You can use this recipe to cook black beans or chickpeas as well, although lentils cook most quickly if you’re starting with dry beans. Plus, lentils are one of the superfoods that also boost weight loss.

This is how I plan my meals – I make a big batch of lentil stew and rice on the weekend. Every day I bake some lean protein (mostly chicken, fish, or tofu) that yields enough leftovers to serve for the lunch the next day. I also toss a big salad or stir fry a lot of veggies while the main dish is cooking. Dinner is usually on the table in 30 minutes, plus I have enough food for lunch the next day.

This is not at all the trendy type of meal planning where you have seven colorful containers neatly stacked in the fridge. But making a few things ahead of time had been a big time saver, and it keeps our daily meals healthy and full of deliciousness.

What is your approach when it comes to meal planning? Share your wisdom below so more people can benefit from it!

Easy Vegetarian Lentil Stew | recipes | gluten-free | vegan | curry | side dish | main dish |

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If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Easy Vegetarian Lentil Stew | recipes | gluten-free | vegan | curry | side dish | main dish |

Easy Vegetarian Lentil Stew

5 from 9 votes
This easy lentil stew is tomato-based and spiced with curry powder and aromatics. It takes merely 10 minutes to prepare, and yields a creamy, rich, and hearty stew that is tasty enough to serve as a main. Make it ahead of time so you can have nutrition-packed meals throughout the week!
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 10 cups


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
  • 1 big onion , minced
  • 2 carrots , sliced
  • 3 garlic , minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger , minced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (*Footnote 1)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 can (170-g/6-oz) tomato paste
  • 1 can (400-g/14-oz) tomato , diced
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bag (450g/1-lb) lentils
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • Greek yogurt for garnish (Optional)


  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot. Cook onion and stir occasionally until tender and pale yellow, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add garlic and ginger. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
  • Turn to low heat. Add curry powder and ground black pepper. Stir for 1 minute.
  • Add tomato paste. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes. If the paste starts to stick, pour in a bit of chicken stock and use your spatula to scrape the brown bits off the pan.
  • Add diced tomato, chicken stock, and lentils. Cook over medium high heat until simmering. Stir occasionally. Turn to low heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt to adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Serve hot over steamed rice as a main or by itself as a side, with Greek yogurt on top (if using).


  1. I highly recommend using Madras curry powder in this recipe. Or you can use a mix of two types curry powder.


Serving: 1/2 cup of the stew, Calories: 114kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 6.9g, Fat: 2.1g, Sodium: 437mg, Potassium: 397mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 2.9g
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Ramdath says:

    Hi Maggie,

    You call this recipe vegetarian, but you add chicken stock. How is it vegetarian?

    Besides stating the obvious I will be making this recipe soon! Looks really delicious.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Ramdath, really sorry about that typo and thanks for letting me know! The problem of not being a vegetarian myself is I over look things like this… I just updated the recipe with vegetable stock.
      I’ve used different types of stocks to make this recipe, depending on whatever I had on hands, and they all turned out delicious.
      Happy cooking and hope you enjoy the dish as much as I do!

  2. Cynthia Miron says:

    5 stars
    This was easy and delicious. I will definitely make it again. Thank you, Maggie.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Cynthia, I’m so glad to hear you’ve made the dish and enjoyed it! I kept cooking this one because it’s easy.
      Hope you have a great week ahead 🙂

  3. Melanie | Melanie Makes says:

    5 stars
    Your photos are absolutely amazing – wishing I could reach through my screen for a bite!

  4. Hege says:

    Hi! I was wondering one thing: are the lentils dried when you put them in?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Hege, yes, I used dried lentils in this recipe. They cook faster than other dried beans, so you don’t need to soak them and they will turn tender after 30 minutes of braising.

      • Hege says:

        How would you do it with pre-soaked lentils? Put them in at the end or reduce the cooking time?

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Hege, if you use pre-soaked lentils, you probably don’t need that much chicken stock. You can start with 4 cups, or just enough to cover the lentils by an inch. Keep an eye on the pot during the cooking and add more stock if the liquid runs low. Shorten the cooking time, cook until the lentils turn tender.

  5. Niru says:

    Add diced tomato, chicken stock, and lentils?

  6. Andrew says:

    5 stars
    Love it! I also added butternut squash which made it almost sweet with the carrots, perfect meal!

    • Maggie says:

      That sounds yummy! I’ll definitely try adding some squash the next time. Thanks for sharing and I’m happy you liked the dish 🙂

  7. Valerie Jackson says:

    5 stars
    ***Epic!*** I have made this recipe 4 times now and it has turned out amazing every time! My entire family loves this recipe, which consists of two carnivores, a pescitarian and a vegetarian. ; ) I didn’t have curry powder or fresh ginger the first time I made it so I used garam masala and powdered ginger. I also used coconut oil instead of olive oil since that is the cooking oil we use in our home. The recipe is one of my family’s favorites now and we will be making this monthly if not twice a month, good enough to satisfy any carnivore and the meat is not missed. Thank you for sharing this fantastic recipe Maggie!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Valerie, I’m so glad to hear it! Me too, I’m a carnivore but I don’t miss the meat when I make this dish. And I make it a lot!
      Thanks for taking time to leave a comment and hope you have a great day 🙂

  8. Mar says:

    Mexican make it very similar we add more veggies squash, chayote, patato, our spices are simply cumin seeds or powder or both, oregano and clove powder optional

  9. Kyle says:

    5 stars
    I made this last night, as a main, with white rice and avocado. Plus, I sprinkled nutritional yeast over the top and omg, it was amazing. I had it again for lunch today! I might half the recipe next time as I don’t need so many leftovers, but I’ll happily finish what I have left from this time!

  10. Elise says:

    5 stars
    Made this a few months ago because it looked like it would reheat well for more meals! It was really yummy. I was a little concerned when I saw how much it ended up making– usually I get sick of meals that make this many servings before I finish them, especially since I’m usually only feeding myself, but it was not a problem in this case! Super delicious and great for meal prepping.

  11. Sue says:

    5 stars
    Love this lentil stew. I added a potato because I love potato and it was wonderful!

  12. Soner Ali says:

    Hi Maggie
    Do you use red lentils or green/brown

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Soner, I used green lentils in this recipe.

  13. Sophie says:

    Hi, what kind of lentils do you use? It looks like brown or green, but do you ever use black? Thanks!

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      I used the brown lentil and I’m pretty sure green will work too. I’ve cooked black lentil but not in this recipe. I remember the black ones requires a longer cooking time but flavor-wise it should work just fine.

  14. Melissa Townsend says:

    5 stars
    Loved it, family loved it, EASY!

  15. Lubo54 says:


  16. Lubo54 says:

    5 stars

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