French Green Lentil Stew

Green Lentil Stew Recipe

For me, one of the best things about going on holiday is the inspiration it brings to the food you prepare and eat. Having spent some time in France back in September, I picked up one or two good ideas for French countryside fare. Green lentils have long been a staple ingredient in rustic French cuisine. And you can see why; a few special additions transform what is an otherwise basic ingredient into a rich and delicious French Green Lentil Stew.

Ingredients like pancetta and red wine may not seem entirely frugal, but even in small quantities they make an astounding difference. Huge gains; little expenditure. Being economical needn’t come at the expense of good-quality ingredients.

Recipe for French Green Lentil Stew

Technically speaking, a dish like this should use lentilles du puy, a region-specific ingredient protected in the same way as Champagne or Cornish pasties. Unfortunately, these are far more expensive than your average green lentils. If you can justify the added expense, then don’t let me stop you. But this dish is so rich and flavoursome that it hardly matters.

For me, French Green Lentil Stew is great eaten alone, perhaps with a hunk of bread and cheese. However, if you’d like to make it a little more special – perhaps for a dinner party – a few slices of pan-fried duck breast or salmon placed on top wouldn’t go amiss. Obviously, such indulgence would add considerably to the price of the dish, so I’ll leave it up to you.

For a couple more French-inspired dishes, which may or may not use green lentils, check out my recipes for Duck Liver and Onions and Green Lentil and Carrot Salad…

French Green Lentil Stew

Serves 2


  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 50g pancetta, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
  • 40g butter
  • 150g green lentils
  • 50ml red wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • a handful of parsley, finely chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a large, wide pan. Fry the onion together with the pancetta on a high heat until both are browned.
  2. Add the fennel and butter and cook down until soft. Incorporate the lentils, wine, garlic and chicken stock and stir.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are softened. Stir through the parsley and serve immediately.

Green Lentils and Pancetta French Green Lentil Stew

Cost: French Green Lentil Stew; a perfectly rustic dish, full of rich flavours and simple ingredients. By making the most of a small of amount of wine and pancetta it’s simple to keep the cost of the recipe down. In fact, the ingredients listed above should set you back a mere £2.50.

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17 comments on “French Green Lentil Stew

  1. Grace @ Cultural Life
    November 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    That looks delicious (minus the pancetta, as I’m not a meat-eater)! Any ideas on what I could replace the pancetta with or do you think it would be fine to simply omit it?

    • ambramarras
      November 14, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Grace, I’m thinking about making a vegan version of this myself I’m pretty sure it would be nice and rich without pancetta, however you could add some spiced veggie sausages or mock meat. if you like them.. Looking forward to trying this!

      • frugalfeeding
        November 17, 2014 at 9:45 am

        That’s a great idea – perhaps even better than a pinch of paprika!

        • ambramarras
          November 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm

          I gave it a go yesterday afternoon: I’ve tried with smoked firm tofu and a pinch of unsmoked paprika, loved it!

          • frugalfeeding
            November 23, 2014 at 10:53 pm

            Fantastic! Great idea. Never tried tofu myself 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      November 16, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      Just leave it out I think. Or perhaps add a little smoked paprika. Just a little though.

  2. Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir
    November 10, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Yum! I made a huge pot of lentils last week, and was eating them on top of everything. Such a great staple to keep on hand.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 16, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      Wonderful – I’ll be making more this week.

  3. cookinginsens
    November 11, 2014 at 12:50 am

    Wonderful looking stew Frugal. Like the fennel.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 16, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      Thank you – the fennel works well. It was a last minute thought.

  4. Eha
    November 11, 2014 at 2:32 am

    This sounds fabulous! Have made many a lentil ‘stew’ but have never thought of including fennel which I quite adore! That would really add an extra flavour and make this humble dish quite a gourmet offering 🙂 !

    • frugalfeeding
      November 16, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      The fennel works wonders. It isn’t overbearing, just right.

  5. Lorna
    November 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    that was really delicious Nick – even impressed a carnivore!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 16, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Thank you – I can’t wait to cook it again.

  6. francesca
    November 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    oh man, that pancetta. We eat so many lentils round these parts.. don’t know why I never thought to add lentils. Yum!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 16, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      I love lentils and pancetta. I’ve been buying a little pancetta every week recently.

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