Lentils Provencal (French Lentil Stew)

This cozy French lentil stew is simmered with savory herbes de Provence, juicy tomatoes, olives, and topped with fresh basil. A healthy vegan comfort food meal that comes together in about an hour!

Overhead View of Wooden Table Set with a Pot of French Lentil Stew, Bowl of French Lentil Stew, Two Spoons and Water Glass

I always get so excited when I find out about some new (to me) non-vegan comfort food dish that I’ve yet to veganize. Making a vegan version usually becomes my number one order of business!

It was a couple of weeks ago that I was browsing Pinterest and saw a recipe for chicken Provencal. I had to check it out, along with every other recipe for chicken Provencal I could find. It seems like this is a dish people take lots of liberties with, with the only common ingredients I could find being chicken, garlic, and herbes de Provence. That was fine with me. I’d take my own liberties in creating a vegan version!

And so I did. I incorporated all my favorite elements from all the recipes I checked out: tomatoes, olives, white wine and basil all went into my version. Oh, and I turned it into a lentil stew, because why not?

Cooking with French Lentils

Pot of French Lentil Stew with Wooden Spoon

If you’ve cooked with lentils in the past but aren’t sure what variety they were, they were probably brown lentils. Brown are the most common, and if you buy a package of lentils that doesn’t tell you what variety they are, they’re usually brown.

Well, good news: French green lentils aren’t all that different from brown lentils. They’re a bit smaller and firmer, but I find the overall flavor to be the same. They also cook much like brown lentils (which means you can substitute brown lentils in lots of French lentil recipes, including this one, if you really want to).

How to Cook Lentils

Bowl of French Lentil Stew with Water Glass in the Background

People seem to have a lot of trouble in this department. Lentils are really easy to cook, but they’re also really easy to screw up.

My method for cooking lentils is this: place them in a pot, cover them with plenty of water (at least a few inches), and boil them until they’re tender. For French lentils like these you’ll usually need 30 to 40 minutes of cook time.

So why do we end up with imperfect lentils so often? It could be a few things:

  • Your lentils are old. Have they been sitting on your shelf for a while? Do they have a best by date? Lentils that are past their prime will often stay overly firm, even with a long cooking time.
  • Acidic/salty ingredients. Avoid adding acids (such as lemon juice or vinegar), or salt (which could be in the form of broth), until your lentils have already softened. These ingredients can prevent them from cooking. Acids are especially a no-no. Broth you can sometimes get away with if it’s not super salty and your lentils are fresh.
  • Not enough water. The water in your pot will evaporate and get soaked up by the lentils as they cook. Keep a container of hot water on hand so you can add it to the pot as the water is depleted. It’s important that the water be hot, otherwise you’ll cool down your cooking water and slow the cooking process.
  • They’re overcooked. This one is pretty obvious, but if your lentils turn out mushy, they’re probably overcooked. Keep an eye on the pot while they simmer. It’s also worth mentioning that some types of lentils, such as split red lentils, are meant to be mushy and will be no matter how you cook them. (Check out the pics from this red lentil soup recipe to see how that looks.)

How to Make French Lentil Stew

Start by heating up some olive oil in a pot. Once the oil is hot, add a diced onion and let it cook until it begins to soften up, then add some garlic and cook it for a minute more.

Now it’s time to employ that lentil cooking method we just talked about. Add some water to the pot, along with your lentils and herbes de Provence. Bring it up to a boil and let it cook until your lentils are tender.

Collage Showing Steps 1 and 2 for Making French Lentil Stew: Cook Onion, Add Lentils and Water

While the lentils cook, sauté some mushrooms for the stew. Heat up some olive oil in a skillet and add the mushrooms. Let them cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until they’re tender and browned. Make sure not to crowd the skillet! You can cook the mushrooms in batches to avoid crowding if needed.

Collage Showing Steps 3 and 4 for Making French Lentil Stew: Saute Mushrooms for 5 Minutes on Each Side

Back to those lentils! After about 30 minutes, the lentils should be just a tad on the firm side still, and there should be just a bit of excess water in the pot. Now add some wine and let it simmer for 5 minutes or so, until most of it has evaporated.

Now stir in some tomatoes, olives (I used a mix of red and green) and your cooked mushrooms. Bring everything to a simmer and let it cook for 5 or 10 minutes, until the lentils are as tender as you’d like them.

Collage Showing Steps 5-8 For Making French Lentil Stew: Cook Lentils, Add Wine, Add Tomatoes, Olives and Mushrooms, and Simmer

Take the pot off of the heat and season it with salt to taste. Make sure to add a bit of salt at a time, stirring well between each addition to fully incorporate it. This recipe can be deceiving, as no salt has been added up until now, but the olives add super concentrated salty bursts throughout the stew.

Serve your stew with a sprinkle of fresh basil.

Pair of Hands Holding a Bowl of French Lentil Stew Over a Table

Lentils Provencal FAQ & Tips

  • Can a different variety of lentil be substituted for the French lentils in this recipe? Yes! Brown lentils should work just fine.
  • Is there a substitute for the wine? You can leave it out if you prefer.
  • If you do use the wine, check with Barnivore to ensure the brand you use is vegan.
  • When cleaning your mushrooms, simply wipe them with a damp cloth rather than rinsing them. This will avoid them sucking up a ton of water, which can prevent browning.
  • Avoid crowding your mushrooms in the skillet. This can also prevent browning. Cook them in multiple batches if needed.
  • Is there a substitute for the mushrooms? You can leave them out if you prefer, or try using some diced eggplant instead.
  • Is this recipe gluten-free? Yup!
  • Leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days.

Like this recipe? If so, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter. And please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you make it!

Overhead View of Wooden Table Set with a Pot of French Lentil Stew, Bowl of French Lentil Stew, Two Spoons and Water Glass

French Lentil Stew (Lentils Provencal)

This cozy French lentil stew is simmered with savory herbes de Provence, juicy tomatoes, olives, and topped with fresh basil. A healthy vegan comfort food meal that comes together in about an hour!

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 45 minutes

Total Time 1 hour

Servings 4

Calories 354 kcal

Author Alissa Saenz


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dried French green lentils
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (14 ounce or 400 gram) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup olives*
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon of salt and about 1/2 teaspoon pepper)
  • Fresh basil, for serving


  1. Coat the bottom of a medium pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place it over medium heat.

  2. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sweat the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.

  3. Add the garlic and cook it for 1 minute, until very fragrant.

  4. Add the water, lentils, and herbes de Provence, then raise the heat and bring the water to a boil.

  5. Lower the heat and allow the lentils to simmer until just a tad undercooked, about 30 minutes. Add a bit of hot water to the pot if it gets too dry while simmering.

  6. While the lentils cook, sauté the mushrooms. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place it over medium heat.

  7. Add the mushrooms in an even layer, being careful to avoid crowding the skillet. Cook the mushrooms in batches if needed.

  8. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes on each side, until browned and tender.

  9. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet and transfer them to a plate.

  10. When the lentils have finished simmering there should be just a bit of water left in the pot — not quite enough to cover the lentils. If there’s more than that, drain the lentils and return them to the pot with about 1/2 cup of water, then return the pot to the burner.

  11. Add the wine to the pot. Raise the heat and bring it to a simmer. Allow it to cook until most of the liquid has cooked off, about 4 minutes.

  12. Stir the cooked mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato paste, olives, and capers into the pot. Bring it back up to a simmer.

  13. Simmer the stew for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the lentils are as tender as you like them and the stew is thick.

  14. Remove the pot from heat and season the stew with salt and pepper.

  15. Divide into bowls and top with fresh basil. Serve.

Recipe Notes

*You can really use whatever variety of olives you like! I used a mix of Kalamata and plain old green olives. If you want your stew to be more authentically French, use a French variety of olive.

Nutrition Facts

French Lentil Stew (Lentils Provencal)

Amount Per Serving (1.25 cups)

Calories 354 Calories from Fat 119

% Daily Value*

Fat 13.2g20%

Saturated Fat 1.9g10%

Sodium 885mg37%

Potassium 1089mg31%

Carbohydrates 40.9g14%

Fiber 17.5g70%

Sugar 6.5g7%

Protein 15.6g31%

Calcium 6mg1%

Iron 29mg161%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Sharing is caring!

Thanks to the Courtesy of :


Leave a Reply