lentils in tomato sauce on a fork with rice and a dish full in the background
Lentils in Tomato Sauce is a warm, nourishing recipe with French flavors as it is written. But the spices are easily modified. So if you prefer a south-western feel, chili powder, cumin and cilantro would be good. Or Indian with curry powder.

And it is naturally top eight allergen-free. Plus lentils are inexpensive so it is easy on your budget. As an added bonus, it freezes well.

Let’s talk about substitutions:

If you are vegan, just swap out the chicken broth for your favorite vegetables stock.

We serve it over brown rice, but substitute your favorite whole grain.

We use shallots in place of the onions. I use two shallot, even though that is less volume than the two onions.

You can use more wine if you desire. The original recipe calls for 2 cups. I found this overwhelming. I purchase small bottles for cooking so I use an entire small bottle which is 6 fluid ounces, or 3/4 cup. Be sure to adjust the other liquid accordingly.

Spice variations: As mentioned above, try different spice variations. I adore thyme and marjoram so this recipe appeals to me. For South-western try chili powder, cumin and cilantro in place of the parsley. For Indian try curry powder. The possibilities are truly endless!

Lentils are legumes that do not need to be soaked.

Put your lentils in a colander and pick out any dirt or rocks, or shriveled lentils. Rinse well. (Always rinse your dried legumes – consider them a raw vegetable, even though they come in a bag.)

Peel and chop your carrots and onions. Saute them in oil in a large pot over medium heat for about 3 minutes. I use my eight quart stock pot/ Dutch oven. Turn the heat down to low, add the spices, stir and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Quickly add some liquid so the spices do not burn.

Add the rest of the liquid and lentils. Add parsley if using. Cook for 45 minutes to one hour, stirring occasionally. In this dish you want the lentils to be tender but intact. I use brown lentils which I can easily find in the grocery store. In addition they hold their shape better than red or some other lentils.

Serve over brown rice – or your whole grain of choice.

This recipe reheats well for lunches and dinners later in the week. I usually freeze my leftovers for future meals.

Please leave me a review to let me know if enjoyed this recipe and what spice variations you tried.

lentils in tomato sauce on a fork with rice and a dish full in the background

Lentils in Tomato Sauce

An inexpensive lentil dish served over brown rice loaded with fiber, plant protein and easily made vegan.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 8
Calories 270 kcal


  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • cups water
  • 1 pound lentils, dried
  • 1 28 ounce can tomato puree or tomato sauce
  • ¾ cup wine
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped optional


  • Put lentils in colander and pick over; discarding any shriveled or debris. RInse well.
  • Peel and chop onion, medium fine.
  • Peel and chop carrot medium fine.
  • Saute carrots and onions in oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes until onion is transparent.
  • Add thyme and marjoram and saute 30 seconds - 1 minute to "bloom" flavor of spices.
  • Add lentils, broth, water, wine, tomato puree and parsley.
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally so lentils do not stick to the bottom.
  • Simmer, partially covered about an hour, until lentils are tender.
  • Serve over brown rice or grain of your choice.


This recipe freezes well.  If you are not feeding a crowd, or do not want to freeze it, it halves easily as well.
Modified from The New American Diet, Sonja L. Connor, MS, RD and William E. Connor MD, Simon & Shuster, New York 1986.


Calories: 270kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 18gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 60mgPotassium: 785mgFiber: 18gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 3345IUVitamin C: 11mgVitamin E: 1mgVitamin K: 70µgCalcium: 60mgFolate: 290µgIron: 5mgZinc: 3mg
Keyword legumes
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