Loaded Lentil, Vegetable, and Wild Rice Stew is a hearty but light stew that’s packed with nutrition and easy to digest. It’s an excellent source of plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals, and energizing fiber and complex carbohydrates to nourish the body from head to toe!
This stew is everything I love about a hearty bowl of homemade goodness made from scratch and it’s just what I needed this week. Soothing, nourishing, filling, healing. Savory, with a hint of sweetness, plenty of depth, and a full-bodied texture.
This stew has it all, my friends!
Stress has taken quite the toll on my body this year past year and for the first time in over 10 years, I’ve developed quite a mean cold. Sniffles, coughing, scratchy throat and all, a winter cold couldn’t have come at a worse time. My mom got admitted back into the hospital last week, unexpectedly. She took a bad turn late last Sunday night/early Monday morning and was rushed to the emergency room then put in ICU. They have her stable now and have found out she has an infection, which can be treated luckily, but because of her low immunity from the chemotherapy for cancer she recently received, her body is just not responding and rebounding as quickly as they had hoped.
Needless to say, we’re all worried though very confident in her doctor and treatment team. And as fate would have it, life picked now for me to develop the first cold I’ve had in 10 years and have to stay at home away from her due to the risk of infecting her. No one with any kind of sickness is allowed to be around her at all, especially with flu season being one of the worst our state has ever seen.
So, all that being said, instead of going to the doctor and getting sent home with a bill and lots of pills, I’ve let plant foods, plenty of rest, and self-care take care of things naturally. With something as simple as a cold, I refuse to go to the doctor when I’ve found that specific at-home treatments work incredibly well for me. Everyone has to make their own decision with their health, but for me, I turn to my little arsenal of self-healing protocols which included my trusty mini slow-cooker that helped me create this incredible new stew recipe!
I’ve also dosed up on ample amounts of green tea, taken high-quality and reliable probiotics, have gotten extra rest, added extra superfood goodies to my smoothies, and have been sure to eat really well overall, as I always do. And, as most do, I’ve craved soup and stew all week long.
Plus, it snowed this week! A beautiful white blanket of gorgeous snow. There’s nothing like that kind of view when you’re already stressed and worried. So soothing, so calming. So peaceful.
This was the first actual “good snow” we’ve had this winter season, which wasn’t so bad if you have to stay home with a cold anyway. I mean, you might as well have something warm, nourishing, and comforting if you’re going to be stuck inside all day, wrapped up warm in cozy clothes and with a pile of work to do at your fingertips, despite being sick. Am I right or am I right? 🙂
So with snow outside for me to gaze upon and inside bombarded with sniffles and coughs, I knew a new stew recipe was in order!
So I took some veggies I had in my freezer, a small Russet potato that I had left in the fridge, my favorite red split lentils (which are tiny and easy to digest), tomatoes from the pantry along with organic wild and brown rice, and then I added some simple herbs and spices. I mixed all of these ingredients together to create one delicious bowl of slow-cooker stew goodness that truly did the trick like I knew it would.
I also added a few *special ingredients* to this Loaded Lentil, Vegetable, and Wild Rice Stew to make it even more healing. Turmeric, oregano, marjoram, sage, and thyme are the herbs and spices I used since they’re great for the gut as well as promoting anti-inflammatory effects and even anti-viral effects.
Finally, I included one of my favorite secret weapons for healing and nourishment: organic white miso paste.
I love, love, love miso! It’s one of the most healing and protective foods on the planet that’s loaded with probiotics that are excellent for gut and brain health. If you’ve read my blog for awhile now, you’ve probably seen me mention miso several times before. In fact, this Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Miso Dressing is still one of the top 5 posts on the blog and consistently gets the most views of any of my recipes.
What is Miso?
Miso is a fermented food made from soybeans and some type of grain (usually rice or barley) that’s incredibly beneficial for gut health. It has numerous anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, blood sugar, blood pressure, and digestive-boosting benefits. Miso can also help with the digestion of complex carbohydrates, (such as legumes and grains), since it “pre-digests” these ingredients so they’re easier on the stomach.
I always buy organic miso and Miso Master Miso by Great-Eastern Sun is my favorite brand of organic miso. I adore all the varieties they make but I tend to go for the mellow, sweet, lower-sodium miso above other varieties for soups and stew recipes where I don’t want a dominant flavor. “Sweet” miso doesn’t mean sugar or any other sweeteners are added to the miso; this variety is simply fermented in a shorter time-span which creates a lovely, more delicate flavor and doesn’t require as much salt to be added during the fermentation process.
Miso Master miso is silky smooth in texture and tastes so good! It’s almost like the texture of nut butter (but nearly fat-free) and has a hearty, tangy, slightly salty bite to it. It’s a great ingredient to use in healing recipes as well as a fantastic ingredient to use in vegan recipes, (like this Roasted Potatoes recipe I made using miso), where you aren’t using dairy but want a touch of probiotics and a nice “what is that!?” flavor. I love to add a couple of teaspoons of miso to soup or stew after it cooks (and I even love miso in oatmeal too).
One of my favorite things about Miso Master is that they’re made so close to my home. They’re based in Asheville, NC (which is about an hour from my home), and they produce some of the finest miso I’ve ever had. I love and appreciate the care they put into making their products which really comes through in the flavor of their miso and the effects their miso has after consuming it. Miso is especially great for digestion as well as grounding and calming the body.
Miso Master miso is also yeast-free meaning no yeast is added to start the fermentation process to help produce it quicker. This is crucial for me since I have had a yeast allergy since I was a little girl (and a long history with candida overgrowth). Miso Master allows their miso to ferment naturally in its own time creating natural beneficial probiotics just as nature intended.
When adding miso to hot foods like this stew, it’s important not to add it in during the cooking process or it will kill the beneficial bacteria due to the high heat. Instead, add it in after cooking and right before stirring. I just add a dollop to the top, let the stew sit for a minute or two, and then stir it in and enjoy. Easy and done!
Other Nutrient-Dense Ingredients in Loaded Lentil, Vegetable, and Wild Rice Stew:
Red split lentils – All lentils are packed with iron, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. Red split lentils cook down and turn creamy in a recipe, plus red split lentils are really easy to digest compared to other lentils or beans so I use them more. Red lentils actually have the highest in antioxidant-content of all lentil varieties! I always choose split lentils since they’re tiny, easier on the stomach, and they cook quickly without needing to soak them. Lentils are an also an excellent source of plant-based protein and they contain B vitamins that are great for our mood health.
Wild and Brown Rice – Wild and brown rice are exceptional foods for our health since they’re a great source of magnesium, amino acids, and complex carbohydrates that are easy to digest. In fact, brown rice is one of the most prized foods used in Ayurvedic medicine and macrobiotic diets due to its healing properties and gentle nature. Wild and brown rice are also good sources of potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. Although not a true grain, (it’s actually a grass), wild rice has a delicious nutty texture and contains twice the protein of brown rice with over three times the antioxidants. I particularly love Lundberg organic wild and brown rice blends.
Veggies! All the veggies in this soup are ones I had on hand but by are no means ones you have to use. I also digest all of these very easily, another reason I chose them. Carrots (frozen), squash (frozen), green sweet peas (frozen), a white Russet potato (chopped and peeled), asparagus (frozen), and a humble stalk of celery that survived in the fridge which I chopped and diced.
I also added herbs and spices, (which you’ll find in the recipe), as well as a special flavoring technique I use using garlic and onion that’s safe for sensitive tummies like mine…
—> Sensitive Tummy Digestion Tip: If you don’t digest onions and garlic well (I can’t tolerate them whole AT ALL–even in spices), then use a trick that I use to impart a great flavor and nutritional benefits that garlic and onions have without suffering a massive stomachache later on. *Don’t cut the onion and garlic up and use it in a recipe or use a spice mix with garlic and onions.* Simply drop a whole clove of garlic into the pot and an entire half of an onion, peeled but not cut at all. Then, remove both of them after cooking just like you do with a bay leaf. By leaving them intact and whole, you create a broth with them during the cooking process and get a lot of nutrients and flavor out of them without having to deal with their hard-to-digest components (mainly fructans, a type of sugar that many find hard to digest, which is also found in wheat products). This trick works wonders for me and it’s my favorite tip for better digestion in soups and stews! Of course, if you digest onions and garlic fine, feel free to chop them up and leave them in.
- 3 cups filtered water
- ½ cup red split lentils (or any type of split lentil works great)
- ½ cup wild/brown rice mix (I used Lundberg brand, see below)
- ½ -1 cup frozen carrots (I like a lot of carrots)
- ½ cup frozen squash (yellow/zucchini)
- ½ cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup frozen asparagus (pre-cut or just break it into bits with your hands)
- 1 potato, peeled and chopped into one-inch chunks (I used Russet, but Yukon gold/yellow potatoes work great here too.)
- 1-2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
- 1 15-ounce can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. dried marjoram
- ½ tsp. rubbed sage
- 1 garlic clove left whole * (see directions and notes)
- ½ a yellow onion, peeled and left whole* (see directions and notes)
- 1 bay leaf
- After cooking: 1 tsp. mellow white/sweet miso paste per bowl/serving
- optional: a dash of black pepper before serving
- Add all of the ingredients (except the miso) into a slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.
- After cooking, remove the garlic and onion as well as the bay leaf (I just use a spoon to do this).
- Then either serve it as it is or purée the stew slightly right in the cooker pot with a stick/immersion blender if you want a slightly smoother but still chunky texture.
- Before serving, ladle some stew in a bowl and 30 seconds or so later, stir in 1 tsp. mellow or sweet white miso paste. Add a dash of black pepper if desired, serve and enjoy!
PIN FOR LATER!
Got a favorite soup or stew you made recently? Share down below!