Lentil Stew (Budget Friendly Recipe)

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This budget-friendly and protein-rich hearty lentil stew recipe is so flavorful, thanks to the delicious combination of vegetables, broth, lentils, tomato paste, and lots of sensational seasonings.

Bowl of lentil stew with crusty bread slices.

I’m so excited to share my delicious lentil stew recipe with you today. It has a powerful punch of flavor and uses lentils in place of meat for a budget-friendly mealtime solution.

For those of us who love dried legumes, lentils are the eighth wonder of the world. They are protein-rich, inexpensive, hearty and filling, and extremely versatile when it comes to cooking. But what sets them apart from other members of the legume family is the game changer for me – cooking time. Those who are used to cooking other dried legumes are used to overnight soaking, day-long cooking times, and lots of waiting around. Dried lentils are a true anomaly because they require no soaking and can be ready to eat in as little as 15 minutes. No, that is not a type-o.

So if you’ve never given lentils a second thought, now’s the time to change your tune. Cook this vegetarian lentil stew and I bet you won’t even miss the meat. This recipe includes lentils, broth, frozen vegetables, tomato paste, cayenne, paprika, and Italian dressing mix. It’s hearty, filling, and flavorful comfort food that’s the perfect main dish for a weeknight meal when you’re time-poor. All you have to do is add all of the ingredients to a pot and let all the flavors simmer together. In under an hour, it’s ready to serve.

This lentil stew recipe is what I used to win my family over to the deliciousness of lentils and it cuts down my grocery budget, so it’s a win-win situation! I hope it’s a win-win for you and your family as well.

Ingredients for Lentil Stew.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Whole green lentils
  • Chicken broth (use vegetable broth if vegetarian or vegan)
  • A bag of frozen vegetable mix (your choice but I like the “soup mix” that has okra in it)
  • Tomato paste
  • Small onion
  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • Italian dressing mix for a burst of flavor

How to Make Lentil Stew

Rinse lentils in water.

First, rinse your lentils with water.

Then place them in a medium-sized stockpot and add the chicken broth (or veggie broth). Place this over medium-high heat and bring to a boil until lentils are tender (about 15-20 minutes).

Add remaining ingredients to stockpot and bring to a boil then simmer.

Add all other ingredients to the stockpot and bring just to a boil again.

Reduce heat and continue simmering, stirring from time to time, until veggies are tender and stew thickens (about 30 minutes).

Bowl of Lentil Stew.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. This lentil stew is delicious on its own but even better with a side of thick, toasted and buttered bread.


  • This is a great stew recipe to meal prep, as you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  • It’s also very freezer-friendly and you can store leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating as above. I usually make a double batch and freeze individual servings for protein-packed lunches later.

Recipe Notes

  • There are two primary types of lentils: whole green and split red. Either works fine in this recipe but I have to admit I’m partial to whole green. They will usually just be marked “lentils” in the grocery store and have a pale green color. Split red lentils are usually marked as “split red”.
  • Substitute the Italian dressing mix for fresh rosemary and fresh thyme or dried Italian seasoning.
  • Use smoked paprika for a deliciously smoky flavor or sweet paprika for a sweeter touch.
  • If you’re not concerned with this being a vegan lentil stew, feel free to garnish with grated parmesan cheese.
  • Want to add more heat? Add a dash of red pepper flakes.
  • If you’d prefer to use fresh over frozen vegetables, the best veggies for stew include carrot, potato or sweet potato, celery, and bell pepper.

Recipe FAQs

What do you serve with lentil stew?

Besides crusty bread, you might like to serve this vegan lentil stew with cornbread, homemade dinner rolls, or buttermilk biscuits. It also tastes great with quinoa or brown rice, a serving of fresh collard greens, or a kale salad.

You might also enjoy these other sensational stew recipes:

Traditional Beef Stew Recipe (Without Tomatoes)

Our Family’s Southern Chicken Stew Recipe

Famous Alabama Camp Stew

BBQ Joint Stew

Ground Beef Stew (with a secret!)

Lentil Stew

This budget-friendly and protein-rich hearty lentil stew recipe is so flavorful, thanks to the delicious combination of vegetables, broth, lentils, tomato paste, and lots of sensational seasonings.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lentils, stew
Servings: 4
Calories: 349kcal


  • 1 cup whole green lentils
  • 8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 bag vegetable soup mix 12-ounce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 envelope Italian dressing mix 1-ounce


  • Rinse lentils with water and then place them in a medium-sized stockpot. Add the broth and bring it just to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender (about 15 minutes).
    1 cup whole green lentils, 8 cups chicken broth
  • Add all other ingredients to the stockpot. Return to a boil, reduce heat again, and simmer until stew thickens (about 30 minutes), stirring from time to time.
    6 ounces tomato paste, 1 bag vegetable soup mix, 1 small onion, chopped, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 envelope Italian dressing mix


Calories: 349kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


I want to offer special thanks to Ignite Social Media for inviting me to participate in the #LentilsForTheSoul campaign, sponsored by Lentils.org. I really appreciate their support of Southern Plate and am grateful for this special opportunity to bring my love of lentils to you! Although I have been compensated for my work in this post, all opinions are my own. #Lentilsforthesoul #LoveALentil

Check out these other fun lentil facts!

Lentil facts.

Pin for Budget Friendly & Delicious Lentil Stew.

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  1. I’ve recently given up eating pork and am looking for some new recipes to try- this one is my next venture thanks Christy!

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