A hearty vegetarian slow cooker stew with butternut squash, red lentils, coconut milk and a robust blend of spices. This stew is the perfect way to warm up on a cold day. Vegan + gluten-free.
It’s the perfect time of year for this cozy stew. It feels like spring should be right around the corner, but my guess is that half of the U.S. is still covered in snow and doesn’t feel like spring is anywhere near. So for those of you battling cold temps and wanting a simple dinner that will warm you up from the inside out, this stew is for you.
This veggie-packed stew is inspired by my Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili, which is cooked in the Instant Pot. I LOVE this chili so much, but recently wanted to try a completely vegetarian version with extra red lentils and this was the result. It’s so warm, comforting and amazing filling for a vegetarian meal. I love the combo of red lentils with butternut squash, and the unique combo of spices in this soup make it so delicious. I can’t wait for you to try it!
I know cooking lentils can be a little intimidating, but this method could not be simpler. I’ll answer some FAQs below, but don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have any additional questions!
Can you put dried lentils in a slow cooker?
Yes! You can put dried, uncooked lentils in a slow cooker with liquid and they will cook through. For this recipe, you’ll put all of your ingredients for the stew in the slow cooker and it’ll work its magic.
Do you have to soak lentils before slow cooking?
Nope! Lentils are the one of the only dry beans that you don’t need to soak before cooking. You can soak them if you want to speed up the cooking process, but it’s not necessary. On thing to note: You should always rinse your lentils before cooking just to clean them off and remove any stones, debris or shriveled lentils. Once rinsed and sorted, drain and use as directed in the recipe.
Can you overcook lentils?
Yes, you can overcook lentils – they’ll end up getting super soft and mushy. Follow the directions in this recipe to make sure you don’t end up with mushy lentils from overcooking.
How to make Vegetarian Slow Cooker Stew
The ingredient list for this recipe might look long and intimidating, but almost half of the ingredients are spices you probably already have in your spice cabinet, so don’t stress!
Start by sautéing the chopped onion and garlic in a saucepan (or your slow cooker if it’s stovetop safe!) and add in the spices. I love seasoning multiple layers of a dish – it makes for awesome flavor!
Next, add your sautéed onion and garlic to the slow cooker along with the butternut squash, broth, tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils, tomato paste, and apple cider vinegar. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6. You’ll know it’s ready when the lentils and butternut squash are soft and cooked through. Feel free to taste test to make sure.
Once the stew is cooked through, you’ll stir in your spinach (if using) and let it sit for a couple of minutes so the greens get a little wilted. Then it’s ready to serve! Enjoy on its own or serve over brown rice or quinoa if you’d like.
If you make this butternut squash and red lentil stew, please be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how it turns out. Your feedback is so helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers.
chopped cilantro and sliced green onions, for garnish
cooked brown rice or quinoa (optional)
Add oil to a sauce pan or the base of your slow cooker (if it’s stove-top safe) and sauté onion and garlic for 3-5 minutes. Add spices (turmeric, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, sea salt and pepper) and cook for an additional minute.
Combine sautéed veggies, butternut squash chunks, veggie broth, tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils, tomato paste and apple cider vinegar together in your slow cooker. Top with lid and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours, or until lentils and butternut squash are soft and cooked through.
Add in spinach, stir and let stew sit for a couple minutes to allow the greens to wilt.
Portion stew into bowls, top each bowl with fresh cilantro and green onions before serving. You can also serve the stew over brown rice or quinoa if you’d like.
Serving Size:1/6 of recipe
Keywords: butternut squash and red lentil stew, slow cooker red lentil stew