The Most Forgiving Lentil Stew

When my pantry is empty, I’m uninspired, my body feels out of sorts, or the whole world seems to be falling apart; I make lentil stew. My Argentine parents cook guiso de lentejas at least once a month, and the taste is always reliably comforting in its consistency. My parents insist that lentil stew must be prepared with chorizo, but I don’t miss the nubs of spicy pork now that I’ve given up meat. The keys to this stew are the veggies and the spices you choose to incorporate. I don’t usually follow a recipe for this; I’ve written guidelines below instead. Use what you have at home or what you prefer to eat. Forget conventions, rules, your endless to-do list, or the chaos of current affairs. You’ve got this. You’re making lentil stew, and the leftovers will last for days. Everything is going to be okay.

Lentil Stew

Makes about six servings.

Ingredients

  • Lentils: 500 gr (usually the amount in a store-bought bag) green or brown lentils, rinsed
  • Alliums (onion family): 1 large onion, leek, shallots, and/or a bunch of green onions
  • Garlic: a few cloves
  • Veggies: 2 or 3 carrots, celery, bell pepper, and/or potatoes
  • Tomatoes: 1 can (whole or diced), 3 diced fresh tomatoes, or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Herbs and spices: a teaspoon of cumin, sweet paprika, chili pepper, a bay leaf, and/or your favorite curry powder blend
  • Broth: 2 tablespoon or cubes of instant broth
  • Water: fill your electric kettle or a pot with water and heat it
  • Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Splash of vinegar (optional)

Steps

  1. First, dice the onion and cut your veggies into cubes. Mince the garlic and set it aside.
  2. Heat your largest pot on medium-high heat, once hot drizzle in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot, and throw in the onions and veggies. Sprinkle some salt and sauté until onions are translucent. While you wait, rinse the lentils.
  3. Toss in the garlic and spices and stir until fragrant, a minute or two. Then add the broth cubes, tomato, rinsed lentils, and enough hot water to cover everything. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Check periodically to stir, reduce heat if boiling, or add more water if it’s drying out.
  4. Once lentils are soft, taste and add salt and a splash of vinegar if desired.
  5. Serve with toast. Keeps for days.

NOTES:

  • If you don’t have enough green or brown lentils at home, as has been the case for me at times, you can substitute up to half the amount with red lentils, just add them after the brown lentils have simmered for 10 minutes because they cook up faster.  

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