Active time: 25 minutes || Total time: About 1 hour
I love that the addition of one word can turn a sloppy one-pot meal into something refined. The word, of course, being “rustic.” This is a hit-the-spot stew for wintertime, and the addition of a soft, simple and creamy polenta make it pure comfort. Even though there are lentils, I wouldn’t call it a “lentil stew.” The lentils are there to add extra body and some meatiness. Chopped plum tomatoes ensure a fresh tomato taste, as opposed to a heavy handed tomato-from-a-can flavor.
Go for yukon gold potatoes that are about the size of a misshapen golf ball, that way you only need to slice them in half to prep. Baby carrots are especially helpful, too., if you’re feeling too lazy to slice carrots.
Of course if you don’t want to use polenta you can use mashed potatoes, rice or any manner or yummy starches.
For the stew:
Olive oil (from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons, depending how much you feel like using)
1 small onion, diced medium
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup green lentils
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
2 lbs plum tomatoes, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 lb small yukon gold potatoes, sliced in half (if using large ones, cut into about 1 inch pieces)
2 bay leaves
3 leeks, white & light green parts only, in 1 inch chunks (and washed well)
Fresh rosemary or thyme, to serve (realistically, only if you’re taking food photos)
For the polenta:
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry polenta
To make the stew:
Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Saute the onion in olive oil, along with a dash of salt, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, celery seed, pepper and salt and saute a minute more.
Add the lentils, baby carrots, tomatoes and vegetable broth. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes, until lentils are slightly softened (now is a good time to start the polenta.)
Add potatoes and leeks. Lower heat to simmer. Cover and cook for about 20 to 30 more minutes, until potatoes are fork tender and lentils are soft. Let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to meld. Serve over polenta, garnished with fresh herbs, if you like.
To make the polenta:
Bring vegetable broth and salt to a boil in a 2 quart pot. Add oil. Lower heat to simmer. Add the polenta in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until polenta is thickened. Keeping heat low, cover and let cook for 20 more minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
Wow! So good. After this meal, I decided I need to put together a binder with “All time favorite recipes”. This will be the first recipe I add to my binder.
River (Wing It Vegan)
Made it, loved it, blogged it! Thanks for sharing!
Mmmm…. SO GOOD! Just ate a huge bowl and I think I gotta go back for seconds. :]
I just made this but forgot tomatoes, didnt have any canned, so i skipped altogether, and added celery and a dash of vegan Worcestershire sauce. Also only had the polenta tube so decided to pan fry slices in a little olive oil. I loved this meal. So did my husband. Will be making again soon!
Really good, but the polenta would be better cooked with water, and not vegetable broth. it turned the polenta into a brown color – not like the picture. Minor change for next time.
So, so good! Warm and rich and tasty. It will be my lunchtime stress relief for the work week! Thank you!
Made this for dinner two nights ago. Am heating up left overs and making a fresh batch of polenta to share with my hubby for lunch. This recipe was amazing. It even passed the kid test. Wouldn’t change a thing, although I did use different tomatoes. Thanks so much for an amazing recipe.
Oh man! I was reading the directions while cooking and realized that it doesn’t say when to put in the bay leaves in the directions and I didn’t realize it until it probably doesn’t matter anymore. Should still be good tho.
Follow up: I added the bay leaves in the last 15 mins of simmering and the flavor was still delish!
Also, my potato’s were looking pretty sad, so I replace with a sweet potato and added a parsnip.
All in all, this will be my go to ‘rustic’ stew recipe for sure!
Thank you again, Isa!
I’m new to veganism and this was the first real recipe that I’ve tried. Wow. Wowowow. Even my 5 year old son liked it, and that is a freaking MIRACLE. I am still basking in the food afterglow…
Didn’t have Thyme so I used Tarragon instead, and it was fantastic in it!! Also added diced kohlrabi in with the carrots, and made the polenta with garlic similar to the blackened scrambled tofu recipe. I’ll be making this now in place of my usual vegetable stew! Delicious!
This was one of the most delicious meals I have ever made. My boyfriend and I went nuts for it! Just incredibly tasty, nutritious, and satisfying. My type of comfort food. This is the dish that finally won my boyfriend over on leek and it will no doubt be made again and again in this household. Winner winner vegan dinner!
LOVE. I made this and had some instant polenta, which I messed up and it was yucky so didn’t add it to the soup. The soup was still ah-mazing,
I made this but added turnips, rutabeggas, and parsnips…then sauteed mushrooms. in butter with shallots and garlic…then, served over polenta….it was so yummy!
could you freeze this?!
Just made this and it worked out beautifully. Both me and my partner loved it and couldn’t resist large second helpings. Isa you rock – as always 🙂
Mmmmmmmmm. Delish. Thank you isa for always feeding me. Someone literally told me today that I’m not a pale sickly vegan haha. My stupid grocery store didn’t have dry polenta so I used prepared (tube=weird) but mashed it w almond milk on the stove and came out not weird but yum. Savory delicious meal.
Don’t mean to be nitpicky, but it doesn’t say here when to add the Bay Leaf..
I made this last night – LOVED the polenta!!! 🙂
I make this stew every fall when leeks show up in my CSA, and I always look forward to it.