French Lentil Tomato and Harissa Stew

french lentil tomato stew

Lentils are the perfect solution for what I call "mid-week meals" when you need a fast and bother-free weekday dinner without giving up taste and nutrition. This is especially true on those days when I haven't planned ahead, because — unlike whole beans which require at least several hours of soaking before cooking — lentils don't have to be soaked at all or need only a couple of hours of soaking to speed up what is already a short cooking process. They're also extraordinarily versatile and can be prepared or paired with almost any number of other ingredients and flavors.

I'm especially fond of the Puy or French lentils that hold their shape when cooked — these beautiful dark green and blue speckled little pearls are especially attractive and toothsome in a soup. Their earthy and peppery flavor combines beautifully with tangy fresh tomatoes and spices, as with this quick and easy thick, nourishing and delicious stew made with lentils, tomatoes and harissa, the classic North African chili, garlic and cumin condiment. It's perfect if you have harissa on hand, whether store-bought or homemade. In fact, I used some leftover green harissa made with fresh jalapeños instead of dried red chilies that I had prepared to serve with some baked chickpea koftas earlier in the week! Delicious, but any variety of harissa will make this stew a savory delight … just adjust the amount of harissa to suit your preferences.

Five minutes of preparation and 20 to 30 minutes of easy fuss-free cooking time is all that this stew takes from start to finish. Feel free to dispense with the short 2-hour lentil soaking time in the instructions if you're in a hurry, and just add an extra 1/2 cup or so of water and let the lentils cook for an extra 10 minutes. Ordinary green or brown lentils may be used if you cannot find French lentils, although more care needs to be taken to make sure that the lentils do not turn any more mushy than necessary.

French Lentil Tomato and Harissa StewFrench Lentil Tomato and Harissa Stew
Recipe by
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Published on September 23, 2013

Quick and easy, this thick, hearty and nourishing French lentil and tomato stew is seasoned with harissa, the classic and distinctive fiery chili, garlic and cumin condiment from North Africa

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes

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  • 2/3 cup French or Puy lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot or small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons harissa, or to taste
  • Rinse the lentils and soak for 2 hours in enough water to cover. Drain before cooking.

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the shallot or onion and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, stir for 30 to 60 seconds, then toss in the ground coriander, cumin and thyme and stir to coat the vegetables.

  • Add the lentils, tomatoes and turmeric, and pour in 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

  • Stir in the paprika, salt and harissa, taste for seasoning, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or until the water is reduced and the mixture is a thick stew.

  • Remove from heat and serve hot.

Yields 3 to 4 servings

french lentil tomato harissa stew

More French lentil soup ideas you will enjoy:
Saffron-Brandied French Lentils
Puy Lentil Soup with Spinach
Puy Lentil and Tomato Soup


Eileen said...

This stew sounds perfect for fall! I really need to keep harissa in the house... :)

Priya Suresh said...

Makes a wonderful a dinner with some bread slices.

Amy said...

I made this last night for dinner and it was wonderful!

Unknown said...

This looks fantastic, I never considered putting harissa with lentils but I will definitely try it soon.

Susan said...

Love. This recipe leaves me warm and cozy for cold weather ahead. : )

Bill said...

I love any type of lentil and this looks delish!

Anonymous said...

I have just made this lentil dish, I didn't have harissa at home so I added a red chilli from my garden. The spices go really really well together, thank you!