During the first winter that I spent in Buenos Aires, my mother-in-law made lentil stew, slowly simmering in a large pot.
As soon as I had my first taste of this dish that is so loved in Argentina – rich, warm, and filling – I finally understood why it’s always welcome in the colder months.
Now, I make my own version at least once during every winter.
While it is typically made with tender chunks of beef, bacon, and chorizo sausages, I like eating a vegetarian version of it using legumes, particularly lentils.
You’ll need to soak them in water overnight to soften them – an easy step to finish, since you’re not taking up any active time.
Once soaked, combine them with a colorful assortment of vegetables and seasonings, and cook low and slow.
Can’t wait overnight to enjoy this for dinner? Simply substitute a can or two of your favorite variety of canned beans.
I find this is best eaten with a generous drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of freshly grated cheese and chopped fresh parsley.
Need a hearty meal to warm you up? Read my recipe below and make a big pot today!
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prepare the Ingredients
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Step 2 – Clean the Legumes
Make sure to rinse the lentils well. Run your hands through them and check for any debris. If you find any, remove the pieces.
Soak them overnight in a large pot of warm water for at least 12 hours to soften them.
Rinse them again in the morning, checking once more for any additional debris that you might have missed. Drain in a colander.
Step 3 – Cook and Simmer
Begin by heating the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, and saute until they turn transparent. This will take around 2 minutes. Once the onions are ready, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure that the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add the drained lentils, carrots, butternut squash, and potatoes. Cook for a few minutes until al dente.
Now pour in the vegetable stock and reduce the heat to low, allowing the ingredients to simmer for around 20 to 30 minutes, making sure to stir with a wooden spoon every couple of minutes.
Finally, add the bell peppers, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes. Continue simmering for approximately 10 minutes until the legumes are very soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
If necessary, add one more cup of water or vegetable stock and cook for as long as needed.
Step 4 – Add the Final Touches
Add the tomato paste and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide evenly between four bowls. Drizzle each bowl with a small amount of olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of grated Parmesan, and garnish with fresh parsley.
To keep this a vegan dish, do not include the cheese.
A Big Bowl of Argentine Comfort Food
As the days get cooler and our bodies start craving warm foods to fill our tummies, a large bowl of this delicious vegetarian stew will do us much good.
It’s extremely filling, thanks to the lentils and all the other wholesome ingredients like potatoes, squash, and mushrooms.
The recipe can easily be doubled. I like to cook up a big batch of it, freeze it in individual portions, and enjoy it all season long.
And more bean-happy soups and stews, try some of our favorites:
Accidentally poured too much salt in the pot? Whoops! We have some easy techniques to save your overly salted meal.
Do you like eating lentils? How do you usually cook them? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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Photos by Felica Lim, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published March 1st, 2015 by Lori Jo Hendrix. Revised and updated October 13th, 2017, with additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Felicia Lim
Felicia Lim is a Singaporean who moved to Argentina for love. Based in Buenos Aires, also known as “the Paris of South America,” she fills her days with freelance writing, recipe development, and food photography – three passions that give her endless joy. When she isn’t typing away at her computer, cooking in the kitchen, or shooting in her balcony-studio, you can probably find her curled up on the couch, lost in the pages of a good book.