This Spanish-style vegan lentil stew is easy to make with very simple ingredients and perfect for vegans on a serious budget. Hearty and comforting, this oil-free recipe is great as a plant-based main dish for chilly evenings or as a side for a summer barbeque or picnic. It’s a freezer-friendly meal that comes in at only $0.50 a serving.
In various social media vegan and plant-based groups I see a lot of questions from newbies about how to replace the meat in their diets. Lentils should absolutely become a staple in any plant-based kitchen; not only are they so versatile, they’re cheap, cheap, cheap!
I live in Spain, and the Spanish are definitely masters at taking cheap, simple ingredients and turning them into something delicious (gazpacho, anyone?). I was inspired to make this Spanish-style vegan lentil stew after having a similar dish at a restaurant a couple of weeks ago. While it normally has various forms of meat and sausage in it, the version I had was totally vegetarian.
I ask my husband all the time to give me ideas for Spanish recipes to veganize but for some reason I don’t think he’s ever mentioned lentils. Turns out that he’s been eating lentil stew all his life and has several versions from the different members of his family. Since the dominant flavour is smoked paprika, it’s really easy to veganize and have a flavourful, filling stew. I simply took out the meat and added a bit of soy sauce for some umami.
I also simplified the procedure down to a one-pot recipe and converted it to oil-free. Normally Spanish cooking is laden with olive oil, which is fine if you’re not a fat-free vegan, but I tend to try to avoid using it in recipes where it’s totally unnecessary, like for softening onions and garlic.
This Spanish-style vegan lentil stew turned out to be wildly addictive as I couldn’t stop sneaking spoonfuls of it out of the bowl as I was taking pictures! It’s really great with some crusty bread to mop up all the goodness and a fresh green salad on the side. You could also use it to stuff a baked potato or serve it as a side to some grilled veggies at your next barbeque!
Got leftovers? Use them in these recipes:
Lentils: Bean and lentil salad ; Make-ahead vegan breakfast tacos
Wanna see how to make this Spanish-style vegan lentil stew? If you like this recipe, share it on Facebook!
Spanish-Style Vegan Lentil Stew
- 1 medium onion finely diced - $0.15
- 2 cloves of garlic grated or finely minced - $0.16
- 1 medium green pepper finely diced - $0.16
- 1 large tomato finely diced (bonus points if you remove the skin) - $0.14
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika - $0.15
- 1 bay leaf - $0.15
- 4 cups (1 litre) water - $0.00
- 2 medium carrots peeled and finely diced - $0.13
- 1 large potato peeled and finely diced - $0.23
- 1 ¼ cups (250 grams) dried lentils rinsed – $0.55
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari - $0.10
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste - $0.03
- A few grinds of pepper - $0.03
- Garnishes of your choice optional
- Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat and add a splash of water, the onion, garlic, green pepper and tomato. Allow to cook until everything is very soft, adding more water if necessary. You want these ingredients to meld into the stew and not be detectable so let them get really, really soft.
- Allow any excess water to simmer off and add the paprika and bay leaf. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes to bring out the flavour while stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add the water, carrots, potato and lentils. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and creamy.
- When the lentils are ready, add the soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
- This stew can be served thick or thin. Add more water if you want it soupier. I thickened mine ever so slightly with a couple blitzes of an immersion blender, but it’s totally optional. It will also thicken as it cools. I garnished mine to make it photographic; garnishes are optional and of your choice.
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Maha Khan says
Wow, Nice recipe.
It's looking wonderful
I am going to make this recipe for my family and husband...
Let me know how it turns out for you.
Do you soak the lentils first?
Cho Ju An says
Now a days lentils do not need to be soaked like 40 years ago. Maybe gmo?
Looks great and will make. However not sure where you live, however I can't get a green pepper for $.16 🙂
You're not the first to comment on that - I live in a pepper-producing region 🙂
Yep winner for me, thank you Melissa! Love your recipes.
I felt the need to add a Jalepeno, turned out great.
Good idea, I love a bit of spice!
I was wondering, do the dried lentils need to be soaked beforehand?
Nope, I never soak lentils!
I made this last week and it is utterly delicious. Will be making again very soon. Thank you.
Are the lentils brown or green ones? Thanks
Made this loads of times. Family love it
Great! So glad to hear that!
Hi! Which type of lentils did you use? Red or brown? Does it really matter? Thank you!
I used brown. You could use red but they fall apart more easily so the texture would be creamier, like a dal.
Hi I was just wondering if I put all ingredients into my slow cooker would it turn out the same?
Yes, I'd say so.
It was okay for me (i just found it too starchy- good flavour though) but the hubs and kids DEVOURED it, so I'm happy with it 🙂
Third time making this, I'm so happy with it! I'm not from a pepper-producing region 🙂 so I added a zucchini instead, plus a sweet potato. I didn't have a tomato kicking around either so I used about a cup of canned diced tomatoes. Still absolutely amazing. Thank you for posting this!
Thank you for your lovely comment!
Could you use canned lentils
Yes, but you won't need as much liquid and just cook them long enough to heat up.
Did i miss the nutritional values, sorry if i did. Just started vegan diet 3 weeks ago. This sounds great!
You didn't miss anything, I don't include nutritional values in my recipes.
Made this tonight. It was so so good! Used diced tomatoes instead of a fresh tomato and it was still great. I had some extra veggie broth that needed to be used so I added a tiny bit in at a time to thin it as the soup was cooking and thickening. Also did a few pulses of the immersion blender like Melissa and it gave it the perfect texture! Even my kids loved it and they’re not fans of lentils!
Can u freeze this?
Loved this! I’m not vegan so I did use beef broth instead of water and it took me longer than stated for the lentils to cook but delicious nonetheless.
Hi Sabrina. Did you add the beef broth at the start of the lentil cooking time? if so the salt in the beef broth would have retarded the cooking of the lentils. Always add anything with salt after the lentils, beans, pulses etc have gone soft otherwise you'll be cooking them forever.
Cooking Crave says
Delicious recipe, trying this in my home this weekend
seen this today thought i would give it ago and make it for me and my wife we loved it went back for seconds. stuffed now thank you 🙂
Awesome, glad you liked it!
Found this recipe via vegan page on FB.
I’m scared of lentils because of IBS so went for the pre-soaked canned version. ITS DELICIOUS! My 8yo also really liked it. Now just hope I won’t suffer much because I definitely want to cook that again 😁
I made this recipe as my first official vegan meal and my family and I absolutely LOVED it!!!! We doubled the recipe and made a few tweaks such as adding celery, jalapeno and cilantro. Also added vegetable broth. This came out perfect so thank you so much for posting this!! Would def. like to try to more of your recipes
I just made this recipe, was delicious. Reminded me of the year I spent in Spain where I ate this all the time (with chorizo though). I have since gone vegan, and was so glad to find a vegan edition. I added broth though, as I thought it was a little tasteless. Thank you for sharing!
Just made this and it turned out AMAZING! I used red lentils and it was very creamy. Any idea of how many calories per cup?
Just made it,added some patizon,nice and very delicous recipe!Thank you!
So excited to get started on this recipe right now. I love all the stats, like how many servings there are, what the cost is, etc. I don't know why people think vegan food needs to be expensive or complicated.
This is absolutely amazing! I made it to take for lunches this week. The only changes I made were to add 2 tsps of Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base and a handful of baby spinach. Absolutely fantastic...will definitely make again! Can't wait to try some of your other recipes!
I served this with chopped avocado on top - delicious!
Flavorful and hearty all I one pot. Next time I may through in more potatoes and some mushrooms.
Great recipe! The smoked paprika really adds to the flavor; especially after the first day. I usually double it and use an even mix of blue potatoes and sweet potatoes. Chipotle pepper really adds a nice flavor too!
I’m in Coronavirus lockdown right now, I have all the ingredients except for green pepper, I used a red bell pepper instead. I also had a few cups of veggie broth so I used that along with water.
I baked some bread to go with. Very good!!
Perfect lock down dinner 😉
The whole family really love this meal. I add spinach and Italian sausage as we aren't vegetarian or vegan (sorry y'all). Serve with bread or brown rice (depending on the day and number of people at the table). Soooo good. Thanks for an awesome recipe.
Great recipe. A Spanish friend of made me some. I hunted down your recipe on line and it tasted just like his. If you are from UK and want to add even more of a protein hit try adding some chickpea flour (vegetarian) suet dumplings - replace half of the Self Raising flour with chickpea flour. Perfect
Z Townsend says
If you're wondering whether to make this soup, DO IT! we have made this recipe about 10 times now, and I figured I should finally write a review since we've gotten so much use out of it. The recipe is great as written, but here are my tweaks: veg broth instead of water, 3-4 garlic gloves, and 2-3 teaspoons of smoked paprika. Top with scallions (and sharp cheddar or vegan cheese)
I make this at least every other week. I add a bit of chilli and use red lentils for a thicker texture, but great stuff. Keep these recipes coming!!
Christine M says
This is my favourite vegan recipe! In the first 3 months when I went vegan and didn't know how to cook it saved me and it is always a hit with both vegan and non-vegan friends and family. Now 1,5 years later I still make it at least 1 every 2 weeks. It freezes perfectly and is perfect with some bread! My omni friend even thought it had chorizo in it because it was too tasty not to be meaty!
What kind of lentils?
Markie Gillean says
I love lentils & can’t wait to make this! Looks yummy!
Can you make this recipe in an Insta pot? If so, how long would you cook it for? Thanks.
I don't have an Instant Pot but I think you can follow a similar lentil recipe that's been developed for the Instant Pot.
Can I use black lentils?