Quick Smoky Red Lentil Stew

A quick and satisfying smoky red lentil stew, loaded with vegetables, spices, and chopped greens. Very pantry-friendly and simple to make.

QUICK SMOKY LENTIL STEW from "Pretty Simple Cooking"
QUICK SMOKY LENTIL STEW from "Pretty Simple Cooking"
QUICK SMOKY LENTIL STEW from "Pretty Simple Cooking"

I can’t believe I’m sharing a pantry-friendly stew recipe here with you in April, but springtime in Ontario is a bit of a cruel joke, so here we are. Cozy and smoky red lentil stew is still necessary with these single digit temps. This quick pot is from a new-ish cookbook by Sonja and Alex Overhiser, the power duo behind A Couple Cooks!

Sonja and Alex are probably the most genuinely nice people you could ever meet. Their vegetarian cookbook follows with that same warm intent. It’s filled with 100 accessible recipes that will call to new cooks, but will also remind people like me to simplify and remember what is at the heart of cooking itself.

Their lessons for a good life in the kitchen are woven throughout Pretty Simple Cooking. Their words are honest, real, and truly felt. You know that they want you to be successful, to have fun, and to feel nourished and energized at the end of it all.

I went to this smoky red lentil stew on another day of unexpected snowfall. The base of onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and spices is super classic, but also smoky with an ample helping of smoked paprika. The red split lentils make for a good hit of protein that simmers to completion quickly. Perfect with crusty bread, a nice salad, and a heap of warm and fluffy grains.

This smoky red lentil stew hits the right note of comforting, easy-casual-healthy (as opposed to overly-prescriptive-and-joyless-healthy lol), quick, and easy to throw together on a whim. I know I’ll be making versions of it as we wait for warmer days.

For all my peeps that are still waiting on Spring: I’m here for you! Make some stew in the meantime. More soup inspiration in the form of a creamy white bean stew with kale, rosemary & lemon, or my golden coconut broth bowls with crispy tofu.

QUICK SMOKY LENTIL STEW from "Pretty Simple Cooking"
An overhead shot of quick smoky red lentil stew in a beige, cast iron braiser-style pot. There is a wooden spoon sticking out of the orange stew. The stew is garnished with chopped parsley.
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5 from 17 votes

Smoky Red Lentil Stew

A quick and satisfying smoky red lentil stew, loaded with vegetables, spices, and chopped greens. Very pantry-friendly and simple to make.
PREP TIME15 mins
COOK TIME15 mins
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Laura Wright


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, small dice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 stalks celery, small dice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from ½ a large lemon)
  • chopped fresh herbs for serving (see notes)


  • In a large pot or deep braiser, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery. Stir and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Add the garlic to the pot and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then, add the balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, and lentils. Give everything a big stir.
  • Add the vegetable stock, salt, and pepper to the pot. Stir and bring the stew up to a simmer. Cover the pot halfway with a lid and let the stew simmer for about 7-10 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness of the lentils. I went the full 10 minutes because I was aiming for a creamier texture. Stir in the lemon juice.
  • Serve the stew hot with chopped fresh herbs and extra lemon.


  • From: Pretty Simply Cooking: 100 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes to make You Fall in Love with Real Food by Sonja & Alex Overhiser
  • Sonja and Alex suggest topping this stew with some plain Greek-style yogurt, chopped cilantro or parsley, and a squeeze of lemon. I didn’t have either of the herbs or any coconut milk yogurt on hand, so I just tore up some dill, added a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper, a drizzle of good olive oil, and the little lemon spritz.
  • I went completely by the book for this recipe! Just added one packed cup of chopped kale at the end and let it wilt into the stew :)
  • I’m not sure why, but I’m slightly obsessed with the idea of ladling this lovely stew into a piping hot baked potato. Could be great, right? Will update here when I try it.
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