Vegan Lentil Stew with Coconut Milk is hearty, subtly sweet and has deep, rich flavors from warming curry spices. It's a delicious bowl of vegan comfort food.
Vegan Lentil stew with coconut milk is a warming, comfort food meal that’s filled with delicious deep, earthy flavors.
It can be made ahead, and only gets better with time.
There are a number of ways you can change it up listed below.
Serve it with a nice crusty bread and a salad, and you're all set. Or, just serve yourself a bowl of it and enjoy it as is.
Above: One of the keys to flavoring this stew is sautéing the onions and garlic with fresh thyme and curry spices, including cardamom, cloves, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. It's the foundation for the whole dish.
- About forty-five minutes into the simmering time, start checking to see how tender the lentils and carrots are. They should both be done more or less at the same time. If at the one hour mark, either one isn't tender enough, it’s fine to keep cooking as long as you need to.
- You can make the lentil stew up to a four days ahead of time -- but, the lentils and other vegetables will absorb more of the liquid as they sit. Therefore, when you reheat it, add more stock as needed.
Substitutions and Additions
- Can you substitute curry powder for all of the spices? Yes, you can use about two tablespoons of curry powder instead of the spices listed. The flavor will be very similar.
- The spices can also be mixed up — use more or less of some if desired, and use what you love.
- If keeping the stew vegan/vegetarian isn’t important, you can use chicken or beef stock.
- This vegan lentil stew recipe can be switched up by changing some of the vegetables. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn can be used instead of carrots, or in combination with them.
- The coconut milk adds body and richness, but if that's not your thing, use more of the stock to replace it. (It will still be great!)
- For a heartier meal (for non-vegan/vegetarians) add sausage, chicken or pancetta.
Can you freeze it?
This stew can be frozen for up to a month or so -- but, much like keeping it refrigerated for a few days, you will very likely need to add more stock when you reheat it.
To defrost, place the frozen stew in the refrigerator a day or two before you plan to serve it.
I hope you enjoy this comforting Vegan Lentil Stew with Coconut Milk as much as my family and I do.
More vegan comfort food recipes:
- Cabbage Stew with Turmeric
- Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Vegan Creamed Corn with Jalapeños
- Vegan Mushroom Stew
Vegan Lentil Stew with Coconut Milk Recipe
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 2 cups chopped yellow onion, medium dice
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, washed and dried
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2½ cups carrots, washed and dried, peeled, approximately ¼ to ½ inch slices
- 1 cup celery, washed and dried, peeled (optional), approximately ¼ inch slices
- 2 cups dried lentils
- 4½ cups vegetable stock
- 2¾ cups coconut milk
- 4 cups loosely packed spinach leaves, washed and dried, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- chili flakes (if desired)
- Sauté the onions and garlic with the thyme and spices. Coat a large pot (5 to 6 quart Dutch Oven is perfect), fitted with a lid, with the grapeseed oil. Place it over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for a couple minutes to soften and coat with the oil. Then add the thyme, and all of the spices. Continue to sauté, stirring every so often, until the onions are very soft, and not yet browning, about 10 minutes.
- Add remaining vegetables except for the spinach. Add the carrots and celery, stir, and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add lentils and mix to blend.
- Combine and add stock and coconut milk. In a large glass measuring cup (or bowl), whisk the coconut milk with 1 to 2 cups of the stock. Whisk just long enough to smooth out any lumps in the coconut milk. Add this, along with the remaining stock, to the pot and mix to blend.
- Cook. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer until the lentils and carrots are tender, about 1 hour.
- Add spinach and season. Add the spinach in a few batches, letting each one wilt into the stew before adding the next. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's How to Season to Taste.) Add chili flakes if desired for a bit of heat and serve.
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I love all the wonderful spices in that stew...and coconut milk is my favourite. This is for sure a winner!
Thank you, Angie. I love coconut milk in recipes like this. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
I love this! And I love seeing those cayenne pepper flakes on top! I don’t eat a lot of meat, but a little bit of ham dice would be good…
That would be good, Mimi. With the ham it would be reminiscent of a split pea soup, maybe? However you have it, enjoy and thank you for visiting! 🙂 ~Valentina
Jeff the Chef @ Make It Like a Man!
This certainly does sound comforting! I love the spices!
Thanks, Jeff. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
Ben | Havocinthekitchen
With days and nights gradually getting colder, I think more often about comforting and warming stews, and this one perfectly fits the bill! Definitely should be served with crusty bread 🙂
Ahh yes, the bread! Perfect. Thanks, Ben. 🙂 ~Valentina
Perfect blend of spices and root vegetables; great autumn week dinner ! xo
I love Autumn! Thank you, Davorka. Enjoy. 🙂 ~Valentina
John / Kitchen Riffs
Mmm, lentil soup. Love the stuff. Love all soup, actually. I go back and forth between adding separate spices for a curry-style dish, or just using curry powder (maybe with a finishing touch of garam masala). More and more these days the curry powder is winning -- there are some good blends out there. And it's just easier. Anyway, this is exactly the sort of dish we like -- thanks.
Totally get it on the curry. Hope you like this, any which way. Thanks, John! 🙂 ~Valentina
Delicious with a capital D! The texture was creamy but not too thick. The spices blended perfectly. The green (kale) and orange (potatoes) were not only nutritious, but they also provided that beautiful pop of color against the muted lentils.
The only drawback is that it won't freeze well because of the milk. Just eat it all in a few days!
Hi! Thank you so much for this lovely note. I'm so happy it was a hit. I actually made this for dinner on Christmas eve. Not the most traditional holiday dinner ever, but cozy and delicious indeed. 🙂 Happy New Year to you. ~Valentina