Healthy Comfort Food: Lentil Stew with Mushrooms + Spinach

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Let me just put it out there: I’m the kind of girl who gets jazzed about lentil stew. At least when it tastes as good as this. Make this big batch of healthy comfort food (it’s vegetarian with an easy vegan option), and browse all our legume recipes here.

Mushroom Lentil Stew with Spinach | Umami Girl

Why we love this recipe

This lentil stew is full of umami powerhouse ingredients that make it some of the meatiest vegetarian food you’ll find. When you’re in the mood for healthy comfort food that tastes great and makes you feel great, this warming, savory, one-pot meal is a fabulous option.

Collage of steps to make lentil stew, part 1

Lentil stew ingredients

This stew has a reasonably long list of ingredients to give it depth and balance of flavor, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary.

You might not be familiar with the optional ingredient Marmite, a popular British condiment with a deep umami flavor. You can leave it out if you have trouble finding it (or if you want this recipe to be gluten-free).

To make this recipe vegan, simply swap out the butter for more olive oil and omit the cream. Add a splash of cashew cream if you like.

You will need:

  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Cremini mushrooms
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Veggie broth
  • Soy sauce
  • Thyme
  • Marmite (optional)
  • Dry lentils
  • Spinach
  • Cream
  • Balsamic vinegar
Collage of steps to make lentil stew, part 2

How to make lentil stew

Here’s how to make this easy one-pot meal in about an hour. It only gets better as it sits, so feel free to make it in advance. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.

  • Grab a big, heavy pot. We like this one or this one (which we used in the video).
  • Warm half the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until nicely browned and reduced in volume by half. Don’t stir them too much — just a few times. This will help them brown.
  • Remove mushrooms to a bowl and set aside for later.
  • In the same pot, heat the remaining butter and olive oil.
  • Add onion, celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook for about 5 minutes, until beginning to soften.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook a minute more.
  • Add the vegetable broth, remaining salt, soy sauce, marmite (if you’re using it), bay leaf, and thyme.
  • Rinse and drain the lentils and add them to the pot.
  • When the broth comes to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until lentils are nice and tender.
  • Remove from the heat and remove thyme stems and bay leaf.
  • If you have an immersion blender, pulse it 4 or 5 times to puree the stew just a little bit. (Alternatively, transfer about two cups of the stew to a blender and puree it, then return to pot, or simply forego this step if you prefer.)
  • Return the mushrooms and any accumulated juices to the pot along with the spinach and cream. Simmer briskly, uncovered, until spinach is wilted, about two minutes.
  • Off the heat, stir in the vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes, then ladle into bowls and serve.
Collage of steps to make lentil stew, part 3

Tips and substitutions

  • To make it gluten-free, omit the marmite and use a gluten-free soy sauce like tamari.
  • To make it vegan, swap out the butter for more olive oil and omit the cream or substitute cashew cream.
  • It gets even better as it sits, so feel free to make it in advance.
  • You can swap in other dark leafy greens for the spinach if you like. Try kale, chard, collards, mustard greens, or any other cooking greens that you like.
Collage of steps to make lentil stew, part 4

What to serve with lentil stew

You don’t need much, but you could make some cornbread muffins and/or a kale salad if you like. Good crusty bread and a glass of red wine would definitely not be out of place.

Lentil Stew with Mushrooms and Spinach | Umami Girl 780

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Mushroom Lentil Stew with Spinach

Warming, savory and super-flavorful, this good-for-ya stew is perfect healthy comfort food for winter. It's a real umami powerhouse and tastes about as meaty as vegetarian food gets. To make this recipe vegan, replace the butter with an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and omit the cream.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Serves Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pound cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced on the thick side
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 cups good vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon marmite (optional)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups brown lentils, rinsed and drained*
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Warm 1 tablespoon each of the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a 5 quart Dutch oven or other heavy lidded pot. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring just a few times, until nicely browned and reduced in volume by half. Remove mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, heat the remaining butter and olive oil. Add onion, celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook a minute more.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, soy sauce, marmite, bay leaf and thyme. Raise heat to high. Rinse and drain the lentils and add to pot. When broth comes to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until lentils are nice and tender. Remove from heat and remove thyme stems and bay leaf.
  4. If you have an immersion blender, pulse it 4 or 5 times to puree the stew just a little bit. (Alternatively, transfer about two cups of the stew to a blender and puree it, then return to pot, or simply forego this step if you prefer.)
  5. Return the mushrooms and any accumulated juices to the pot along with the spinach and cream. Simmer briskly, uncovered, until spinach is wilted, about two minutes. Off the heat, stir in vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes, then ladle into bowls and serve with good bread.

Notes

Brown lentils are sometimes called green lentils. (Just don't confuse them with green split peas, which are a different thing entirely. Green split peas are bright green and glossy and not what we're looking for here.)

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Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 394 Total Fat:: 13.2g Carbohydrates:: 53.3g Fiber:: 9.3g Protein:: 20g

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Comments

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  1. Trisha @ Salty Side Dish

    The family and I have been eating soup a lot as the weather got a little chilly. Soup is one of my favorites. I can’t wait to try this one with the lentils in it.