Lentil Stew

I'm trying to remember now what inspired the lentil stew recipe I make regularly every winter. I think it was a similar dish served at the World Bank cafeteria 15 years or so ago; I know it was while I was living in Arlington, VA and working at the World Bank that I started making it, so that history seems plausible. I do remember that the dish I was trying to imitate was called Lentil-Mushroom Stew, so of course my version has mushrooms in it.

I made a batch yesterday that was so tasty that I ate it again for breakfast this morning. It may just be the best batch I've ever made. It was also the easiest, since I used bagged, pre-cooked potatoes, pre-sliced mushrooms, and baby carrots. I also had pre-diced onions on hand, but I like my onions a little bigger in this dish, so there *was* actual chopping involved. Here's what I threw into the crock pot/slow cooker:

2 cans Progresso Lentil soup
1/2 bag baby carrots
1 cup (roughly) frozen pumpkin or butternut squash (I can't remember which) from last season

Because I didn't have the rest of the ingredients, these two got a 2-hour head start. The carrots actually could have used more time, or perhaps a higher heat. When we returned from Wegmans, I added:

1/2 bag rosemary and garlic-seasoned, diced, pre-cooked red potatoes
1/2 container sliced baby bella (crimini) mushrooms
1/2 med-large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
a couple dashes dried thyme
a pinch of dried rosemary leaves, crushed

I stirred the whole mess together and let it cook on Lo for another couple hours while we took the Beaner ice skating for the first time in his life.

first time on the ice

When we got back, I opened one of the bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon that I'd picked up in New Jersey when we were on our way to Wegmans earlier, and I poured myself a glass. I then poured a couple splashes into the stew.

making lentil stew

Next I mixed about a teaspoon of cornstarch with maybe a tablespoon or so of water in a wee little mixing bowl until all the lumps dissolved, and then I dumped that into the stew and stirred until it disappeared.

Then I drank two glasses of wine. I think it was two. Anyway, eventually, maybe another hour or so later, the stew was ready to eat. As mentioned, the carrots could have used a little more time, but the rest was perfect. I actually served mine with some slices of Honeycrisp apple (stuck right into the stew), a bit of grated smoked cheddar cheese, half a slice of crusty multigrain bread, and a shake of very coarse sea salt. YUM.

It's not a photogenic dish, so I didn't bother snapping any pictures of the end result, but it's a great option for cool fall and winter afternoons. I also recommend the cabernet; it worked really well with the stew (though not so much with the apples).

Posted by Lori in food at 9:39 PM on November 5, 2007