Kimberly Higgins Dietitian Food Nutrition
Thick, hearty vegetarian stew.

Hearty Lentil Stew

This filling and satisfying soup is truly one of my favorites. The now tattered and stained recipe is a clipping from a Sunday newspaper that I stumbled upon over 20 years ago. It originally appealed to me simply because it was built from pantry items; all of which I happened to have on hand.

However, it only took trying it once to know that it would be making regular appearances on our table. Though I have altered and modified the recipe to accommodate our own preferences, it remains one of the tastiest and easiest one-pot meals in my recipe box.

More stew than soup, it is hearty and filling with smoky warmth from cumin and cinnamon and plenty of chew from lentils and barley. A traditional and generous base of onions, carrots and celery add not only foundational flavor, but a solid helping of veggies in each bowl. This high fiber, high protein dish satisfies even the most committed carnivores (ie my husband). In fact, this is one of the few vegetarian dishes I make that my husband greets warmly and without asking “what else is for dinner?”

Lentils have an amazing nutritional profile – a mere half cup of cooked lentils offers 12 grams of protein and almost 10 grams of fiber. Both of these give lentils staying power (referred to as “satiety”) and make them an excellent vegetarian protein source. Barley offers an additional fiber source and is particularly rich in the dietary fiber called beta-glucans, which can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

Try this lentil stew during the dark days of winter when you are craving something filling, nourishing and most of all…delicious! It does not disappoint.

Lentil Stew recipe Kimberly Higgins

Lentil Stew

Thick, heart and utterly satisfying vegetarian stew.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Servings 8


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped (to equal 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (to equal 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups broth chicken or vegetable
  • 1 28 oz canned plum tomatoes, chopped with juices
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt


  • Heat oil in a large pot over med-low heat. Add the onions and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring to avoid letting the garlic get too brown. Add the cumin and cinnamon and cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add the lentils, broth, tomatoes with juice and brown sugar. Stir to combine and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, partially covered.
  • Stir in the barley, partially cover and cook for 45 minutes. Adjust heat so stew is at a simmer but not a rolling boil. Stir occasionally.
  • Reduce heat to low; lentils and barley should be softened and thoroughly cooked and stew will be thickened. Stir in chopped parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve in bowls topped with sour cream or yogurt and an additional sprinkle of parsley, if desired.
  • Stew can be made ahead and re-heated on the stovetop. It will keep for 5-6 days in the refrigerator.