If you’re looking for wintertime comfort food at its finest you will find it in this Italian lentil stew with mushrooms and crunchy bacon. Brown lentils are prepared with garlic, mushrooms and spring onion, cooked in stock and white wine and topped with crispy bacon. Enjoy with some crusty bread and butter on the side.
If you are a lentil lover you will surely love this lentil stew. But even if you are not a lentil lover this recipe may surprise you. What’s awesome about this Italian lentil stew is that it is incredibly hearty and comforting. It has a thick texture – almost like a dahl – but the flavour profile of an Italian vegetable soup.
The base flavour for this stew is the combination of garlic and spring onion instead of a more classic option like onion soffritto. A splash of white wine and some vegetable stock make up the liquid for cooking the lentils. Soft button mushrooms add to the overall texture. Stop right there if you’re a vegetarian – this recipe so far is actually vegan.
But if you are an omnivore I invite you to use all the ingredients listed in this recipe and top your lentil stew with crispy bacon bits. The smoky crunch of the diced bacon adds flavour and texture to every bite, taking this simple lentil stew to the next level.
Italy’s lucky food
Lentils are a traditional food on New Year’s Eve in Italy. Eaten at the strike of midnight they’re said to bring money or overall good fortune in the new year. Since most people are busy clinking their Prosecco glasses at midnight, lentils usually have a reserved spot on the dinner table. Traditionally they’re served with a meat preparation called zampone (or cotechino, a cooked sausage).
The most common lentil type in Italy is brown lentil. You can find lentils cooked and tinned, or dried. Tinned lentils are very easy to prepare because they just require seasoning and warming. Dried lentils take a little longer as they need to soften. You can soak them prior to cooking, but even cooking them from dry this lentil stew will take about one hour total time.
How to make this Italian lentil stew
The ingredients needed for this delicious lentil stew are:
- Dried brown lentils
- Button or cremini mushrooms
- Spring onion
- White wine – preferably a dry type, unoaked;
- Vegetable stock – homemade or from stock concentrate;
- Dried thyme
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Diced bacon – preferably smoked.
Please refer to the recipe card at the end of this post for quantities and directions. An overall explanation follows.
- Warm up the oil in a pan. Mince the garlic and slice the spring onion. Add to the pan and sauté on medium heat 2 minutes.
- Slice the mushrooms and add them to the pan. Sweat until they release water, 4 minutes.
- Turn up the heat and pour in the white wine, stirring to deglaze the pan. When almost evaporated, add the stock, thyme, salt and pepper. Let it come to a boil.
- Lower the heat and add the lentils. Give it a stir and let simmer on low heat with the lid on, leaving a small opening for some steam to escape. Stir from time to time and cook for about 30 minutes, until the lentils have absorbed all the liquid and are soft throughout.
- If you are not a vegetarian, warm up a skillet and add the diced bacon. Cook it in its own fat on medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes, until crispy. Discard the excess fat and top the lentil stew with the crispy bacon bits.
- You can also reserve some of the green parts of the spring onions to use as decoration when serving the lentil stew, especially if skipping the bacon.
Make it a meal!
This comforting lentil dish is a great main course for a wintertime dinner. This is the perfect nutritious and warming food to enjoy after a day out in the nature or snow. Start the meal with these mushroom and goat cheese crostini as starter as the lentil stew cooks. This is an excellent recipe since you will already be buying mushrooms and garlic for the main course. And any leftover bread from the crostini can accompany the stew.
If you have room for dessert after the main course and want to keep the Italian feel, I’d suggest a cup of thick hot chocolate with some whipped cream on top. Italian hot chocolate is so thick you can actually sip it from a spoon, doubling as warm drink and dessert.
If you make any of these recipes – or all three! – let me know your thoughts in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you! And don’t forget to pin this recipe for later.
Italian lentil stew with mushrooms and bacon
- 180 g brown lentils dried
- 250 g button mushrooms
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 spring onions
- 125 ml white wine
- 250 ml vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 140 g diced bacon
- Mince the garlic and slice the spring onions. Set aside about 1 tbsp of the sliced green part for later use.
- Warm up the oil in a pan. Add the minced garlic and sliced scallions and sauté on medium heat 2 minutes.
- Clean and slice the mushrooms. Add them to the pan and sweat until they release water, 4 minutes.
- Increase the heat to high and pour in the white wine, stirring to deglaze the pan. When almost evaporated, add the stock, thyme, salt and pepper. Let it come to a boil.
- When it boils lower the heat and stir in the lentils. Simmer on low heat with the lid on, leaving a small opening for some steam to escape. Cook for about 30 minutes stirring from time to time, until the lentils have absorbed all the liquid and are cooked through.
- Warm up a skillet and add the diced bacon. Cook it in its own fat on medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes, until crispy. Discard the excess fat and top the lentil stew with the crispy bacon bits, as well as the raw sliced spring onion you had reserved.