Vegan Lentil Barley Stew

Okay you guys. All jokes aside, {you know, because I’m such a jokester} this stew is one of the best things to ever come out of my kitchen. I almost posted a picture of some flaky, buttery dessert with melted chocolate running down the side so that I could get my point across here…which is that it tastes incredible.

Seriously, how do you make a healthy stew look drool-worthy? Put a big piece of carby bread smothered with butter next to it? Probably.

I tell you, selling healthy food over the internets ain’t easy. It just ain’t.

Vegan Lentil Barley Stew

It’s kind of funny, the birth story of this stew. As I stood in my kitchen one night last week, preparing dinner, my eyes drifted across the counter until a slightly discolored jar of lentils caught my eye. I silently thought to myself, why are they turning red?

Yep, that’s what it took for me to realize I haven’t made anything with lentils in what felt like an eternity. I’m guessing the months of sunlight from my kitchen window sucked the life, I mean color, out of the little guys but who knows.

I’m ashamed that I forgot about my lovely little lentils for so long though. They’re cheap, healthy and incredibly versatile. Every last one deserves a safe home in somebody’s belly.

Vegan Lentil Barley Stew

I’ve had my mushroom barley soup on the brain for a while but I decided to try something new so I could put the lentils to use.

So I basically threw a bunch of stuff in a pot and this came out. Viola!

Vegan Lentil Barley Stew

The herbs, red wine and mushrooms give it a rich flavor that’s both satisfying and comforting. Then of course, there’s all of the veggies, lentils and barley to make your body sing in it’s sleep. Like in a happy, silent, well-rested way….okay, that was a bad metaphor.

Vegan Lentil Barley Stew

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 1.5 cups

Vegan Lentil Barley Stew


1/2 cup brown lentils, soaked overnight and rinsed*

1/2 cup barley, soaked overnight and rinsed*

8 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms (could also use portobello)

1 green bell pepper or celery, diced

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 yellow onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups (or 15 ounce can) diced tomatoes with liquid

5 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup full bodied red wine**

1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon oregano

salt & pepper to taste


  1. Start by warming the two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Toss in the onion, pepper, garlic, and carrots and sauté for five minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, thyme, oregano, garlic powder and a pinch of salt & pepper then continue to sauté for a few more minutes.
  3. Pour in the red wine and Worcestershire then turn the heat to high so that the liquid starts to boil. Cook for about ten minutes, allowing the wine to reduce by half.
  4. Then add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Add the lentils and the barley as well and allow to cook on high for about five more minutes, until everything is heated through.
  5. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to sit for about twenty to thirty minutes. Add more salt & pepper to taste, if necessary then serve warm.


*Soaking the lentils and barley in separate bowls covered with water and one tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar causes them to sprout which is thought to help with digestion. This step isn’t necessary. You can rinse them and cook right away, it will just take a little longer than if they were soaked.

**I highly recommend using a full bodied red wine such as Cabernet or Chianti for this dish. Using a light red wine will result in a less flavorful dish.

Vegan Lentil Barley Stew

As much as I love to try new recipes, I absolutely have to make this again. It yields six large servings and takes less than hour to make so really, you can’t beat it.


What’s your favorite lentil dish?

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{ 36 comments… add one }

  • Tara October 22, 2013, 7:19 pm

    Love the addition of the barley stalk, where did you manage to pick that up?

    I had the same lentil problem happen to me too, a pack I bought a few (understatement) months ago got destroyed by the sun and I picked up a new pack today from TJ’s.

    My favorite lentil dish is one I made with soy/chorizo and potatoes, such hearty flavors! My good friend also sent me a coconut curry lentil soup I want to try soon. We will see how motivated I am!
    Tara recently posted…Taglia Il PaneMy Profile

    • Sarah October 24, 2013, 7:41 am

      I got it at Whole Foods! I originally bought two bushels to put up as decoration in my kitchen but I randomly decided to throw it next to the soup!

  • Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries October 22, 2013, 8:19 pm

    I love to read the story behind each of your recipes! For me, recipes are the hardest thing too write about on the blog, but you always have something interesting to say about each recipe!
    Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries recently posted…Calling all Fashionistas! Stitch Fix AdditionMy Profile

  • Amy @ The Little Honey Bee October 23, 2013, 1:24 am

    Yum!! You didn’t even need the flaky, butter dessert to sell this for me :) looks/sounds awesome. I loveeee lentil soup or adding lentils to salads for extra protein
    Amy @ The Little Honey Bee recently posted…Post-Half ThoughtsMy Profile

  • Elise @ October 23, 2013, 3:21 am

    That looks good to me! I love that it’s packed with lots of yummy stuff. I like soups that don’t leave me hungry after and this looks perfect!
    Elise @ recently posted…Ab of the Week: Oblique RockMy Profile

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles October 23, 2013, 4:02 am

    Lentils are one of those things that I always forget about too, but really they’re one of my favourite things to add to veggie dishes. So hearty and filling!
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted…WIAW: Thanksgiving Dessert.My Profile

  • Carly @ Snack Therapy October 23, 2013, 5:09 am

    Okay, can we talk about that gorgeous pile of wheat you just happen to have in these photos? I’m intrigued. Did you go out and pick it yourself? Do you keep it lying around your house? Love.

    I’ve never actually cooked with dried lentils, but I sure do love eating them. I need to make this asap — it would make the perfect leftovers (with carb-y, buttery bread, obviously).
    Carly @ Snack Therapy recently posted…Things That Taste Better Than Skinny FeelsMy Profile

    • Sarah October 24, 2013, 7:40 am

      Haha- yep, I went looking for piles of wheat in a field somewhere. Although, there was some weird sign in front…I think it said Whole Foods or something like that but who knows. ;)

  • Alexis @ Hummusapien October 23, 2013, 5:21 am

    Yum! I just made lentil soup last week and I ate it for days without getting sick of it, which is rare. I def want to try soaking them next time! Looks fab.

  • Kelly @ Kelly Runs for Food October 23, 2013, 5:30 am

    I really need to try your recipes because they’re so different from what I normally make (I live with a meat and potatoes man). I think this looks awesome and it’s definitely not hard to sell healthy food to people who enjoy it :-)
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs for Food recently posted…Day in the Life: Admission EditionMy Profile

  • Nicole @ FruitnFitness October 23, 2013, 5:43 am

    This soup sounds good! I was just thinking about what kind of soup to make for dinner. I don’t have all these ingredients on hand but hopefully I can come up with something thats close, this sounds great!
    Nicole @ FruitnFitness recently posted…WIAW – Costco haul and the dentistsMy Profile

  • Clara @ Southern Thintellect October 23, 2013, 6:02 am

    This dish suits the weather outside simply perfectly, and it looks amazing (and would even without the carbilicious side items in the background!). Thanks for sharing :))
    Clara @ Southern Thintellect recently posted…no time to cook… or write apparentlyMy Profile

  • FitBritt@MyOwnBalance October 23, 2013, 7:17 am

    Girl, your photos are amazing. I would buy any food you are selling!
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  • Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures October 23, 2013, 7:26 am

    Haha, your writing style is amazing! Each one of these lentils deserves a safe home in your stomach!! So stinking cute to put it like that! AND I AGREE! I have really got to work on not being so intimidated by cooking – and there are so many delightful soups in blog land this week that I feel like I need to step up to the plate and just do it. Haha, I can’t believe this recipe beats any kind of sweet treat-must be AMAZING! :) <3
    Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures recently posted…Getting Back After “IT”!My Profile

  • Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog October 23, 2013, 8:13 am

    I have lentils sitting in my cabinet that I keep forgetting about – eek! I am planning on making a stew for the crockpot tonight so I’ll have to toss them in. Thanks for the reminder!
    Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog recently posted…WIAW #52: Can’t Do EverythingMy Profile

  • Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat October 23, 2013, 8:25 am

    Yum…perfect comfort food! Sounds delish and your pics are amazing!!!
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted…WIAW #19 – Feeling LazyMy Profile

  • Becky @ Olives n Wine October 23, 2013, 8:48 am

    Your photography skills can even make lentils look drool-worthy. Seriously – amazing photos! And I love how easy this is. I could totally pull this off on a weeknight!
    Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted…Confessions, Part IIMy Profile

  • Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate October 23, 2013, 9:00 am

    It’s definitely soup/stew/chili season…brrr! This looks yummy and super easy too– I love how it incorporates so many veggies!

  • Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) October 23, 2013, 9:09 am

    I love lentils! I’ll have to give this a try soon.
    Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) recently posted…Brew Review: New Belgium PumpkickMy Profile

  • Davida @ The Healthy Maven October 23, 2013, 9:16 am

    I personally think you make lentil barley stew look totally droolable! Barley used to be my favourite grain before my tummy went all wacko with the gluten. My Mom makes the best barley mushroom casserole. I’ve been wanting to try it with quinoa but it slipped my mind. Thanks for unintentionally reminding me :)
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted…Cauliflower TabboulehMy Profile

  • Ashley October 23, 2013, 11:29 am

    Oooo I love the sound of this stew! So right up my alley. And you’re right – it’s so hard to sell healthy meals … especially when there are so many ooey gooey desserts out there!
    Ashley recently posted…Healthy Witches’ Soup with Spinach and BroccoliMy Profile

  • Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl October 23, 2013, 12:54 pm

    This soup is absolutely screaming my name. Anything with barley, lentils, AND vegetables is pretty much amazing. Talk about a nutrient and protein powerhouse, too! :)
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted…WIAW: October 23, 2013My Profile

  • Heather Murphy October 23, 2013, 1:09 pm

    This looks delicious- no carb loaded, flaky bread necessary! My husband loves lentil soups, so this is perfect to have for dinner and left overs!

  • Chelsea @ TableForOne October 23, 2013, 2:24 pm

    I love barley lentil stews. This one is packed with all sorts of goodness! I am a fan (:
    Chelsea @ TableForOne recently posted…Black Bean and Sweet Potato StewMy Profile

  • Christine @ Gotta Eat Green October 23, 2013, 5:31 pm

    Looks great Sarah! Totally drool worthy. Lentils are such a super food that I often forget about. I have a mason jar full in my cupboard that has not been getting love the past couple months. I need to use them up asap.
    Christine @ Gotta Eat Green recently posted…Healthy Spooky Almond Joy Bites [vegan and gluten free]My Profile

  • Alisha @ Alisha's Appetite October 23, 2013, 6:11 pm

    I’m obsessed with lentils. When I was serving AmeriCorps (aka: living on nothing) I lived on lentils and dried beans- they’re so cheap and pack the biggest nutritional bang for your buck! This soup looks delish!
    Alisha @ Alisha’s Appetite recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday: Back on TrackMy Profile

  • Erica {Coffee & Quinoa} October 23, 2013, 6:27 pm

    This looks so perfect for this time of year! And I think you do a great job of selling healthy food over the internets :) Lentil soups and stews are some of my favorite cold-weather meals, however homely they look on my stove. This will definitely make an appearance in my kitchen this winter!
    Erica {Coffee & Quinoa} recently posted…Pear & Goat Cheese TartinesMy Profile

  • Nicole October 23, 2013, 8:59 pm

    I’ve been loving soup (and lentils!) lately… and I must say, your soup photos are 100x better than any of mine ever come out. Mine always look less than appetizing and I feel the need to stress that it tastes better than it looks! Ha.

  • Jan @ Sprouts n Squats October 23, 2013, 10:49 pm

    This looks delicious, I just wish my tummy would love lentils as much as I do and not cause me to double over in pain whenever I eat them. Maybe I could try them sans lentils? Or I’ve heard sprouting lentils can lessen the effect?
    Jan @ Sprouts n Squats recently posted…Two Words: Sydney RecapMy Profile

  • Consuelo @Honey & Figs October 24, 2013, 2:40 am

    How funny! I’m eating lentil and veggies stew for lunch as well! I love that you added barley too, it will surely make it heartier. I’d love to add it to mine now, but I only soaked the lentils overnight! Anyway, I’ll try it next time, which will be soonbecause lentil stews are to nice that I can have them nearly everyday ;) Lovely pics!

  • Sarah @ Sweet Miles October 24, 2013, 7:35 am

    Mmm that looks a perfect cold weather soup!! I can just see us curled up on the couch by the fire with this recipe in hand! LOVE your photo setups of course :)
    Sarah @ Sweet Miles recently posted…Last Minute SpeedworkMy Profile

  • Chamaine @ All in a Soiree October 24, 2013, 1:29 pm

    This stew looks incredible!

  • Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens October 26, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Oh, I love lentil soups, and this one looks totally exceptional! I love how quick and simple it is – prefect for busy fall evenings! Pinning quick, quick!!!

  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl October 28, 2013, 10:53 am

    The chilly weather is definitely hitting here and all I want is soup and stew. Your stew looks like it will hit the right spot! Thanks in advance. :)
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  • Molly August 23, 2015, 6:17 pm

    I’ve made this twice with sweet potato and it is really, really good. Just realized upon making it a second time that the idea that sweet potato was on the ingredients list was a fabrication of my unconscious mind.

    • Sarah August 24, 2015, 9:37 pm

      LOL! Well it sounds like it’s amazing with sweet potato so your subconscious is certainly leading you in the right direction! :)


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