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French style lentil stew recipe (six food elimination diet friendly)

A long time ago, I used to live in France. I didn't eat a lot of classicly French food - I lived in a studio flat with a two-ring hotplate as the only means of cooking, and eating out a lot wasn't much of an option for a) vegetarians and b) people living on a student grant from the British government.

Occasionally I'd get visiting friends to bring treats from back home like baked beans, custard powder, and curry paste to liven up my diet. But such fancy-dan cooking wasn't my staple fodder, oh no. During my student days abroad, I lived on soup that came in dainty Tetra-Paks from the local supermarkets, on a fairly regular rotation with salads and sandwiches. My cooking attempts were further stymied by the dodgy wiring in my tiny garret: if I turned on that two-ring hotplate, and then turned out any other electronics - the TV or radio, for example - it would short the electrics in my flat, burn out one of the wires, and I'd have to replace it. By the end of my time in France, I had a rudimentary grasp of electrics but not so much about Provencal cooking.

I still don't sadly - I'm much more comfortable making Japanese or Indian food than the cuisine of our nearest continental neighbours. How bad is that? Granted, French food relies heavily on meat, fish, and dairy, there's not a million recipes I had to draw from. Here's what I imagine a vegan French recipe would look like... It might be far off the mark, but it's tasty - and you only need a one-ring hotplate to make it!

Vegan French style lentil stew recipe
Serves four
75g dried pasta (for six food elimination diet, substitute for wheat free pasta or quartered new potatoes)
1tsp of olive oil
One onion, thinly sliced
Two carrots, cut into small dice
Two garlic cloves, thinly sliced
75g green or puy lentils
One bay leaf
One large branch of thyme
900ml stock
200g chard
50g of broad beans

How you do it
Cook the pasta (or potatoes) until al dente - undercooked is better than overcooked! - and then drain and stir in the olive oil.
Fry the onion for a few minutes until beginning to soften, add the garlic and carrots and cook for another minute or so.
Add the lentils, bay leaf, thyme, and stock, and simmer until the lentils are cooked - another 20 to 25 minutes.
While that's cooking, blanch the chard for two minutes in boiling water then drain and run under cold water until cool. Squeeze out any water from the chard with your hands, and then roughly chop (the chard, not your hands, obviously).
When the lentils are cooked, add the pasta, broad beans, and chard back in and cook for a few minutes until warmed through and the broad beans are cooked.

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  1. Whenever I think of French cooking, the movie and dish Ratatouille comes to mind. That and baguettes. For not cooking much French food, the stew looks fantastic! Light yet hearty. Good job! :-)

    1. Me too! Love that movie! Your stew looks delish', I love that shape of pasta.

  2. So cool that you lived in France! Yea, there wasn't much that I could eat there as a vegan when I visited 10 years ago but maybe that's changed. mostly I lived on salads and frites - some falafel and moroccan stuff, but nothing traditionally french. This soup does sound delicious though... thyme is such a lovely light flavor that I never know much what to do with it.

  3. When I was a child France never appealed to me, but in the last few years its my my holiday location of choice - Paris, Brittany and Marseille. We are hoping to go again this year. So I can see the appeal of living there, though it was quite manic! The only tasty food I found there though was Moroccan stuff, rather than French food - though I did have white asparagus for the first time made French style and rather delicious too. I am liking this stew, even though its a stew there is a lightness about it.

  4. Looks like a good sort of french stew. I too find it a mystery that I love france but have never really got into french food - I think it is because I don't know a french person who can cook me great home cooked french food and the cafes are always disappointing. Even on my recent trip to Paris I still didn't feel I came to grips with French food. And now I am a little jealous of you living in France even if the food wasn't great.

  5. I was in Paris last summer, and I would have been thrilled to be served a stew like the one you made. We did manage to find some delicious food, but your stew looks better. When I think of French food, I think of lots of butter and crusty bread.

  6. Sounds very familiar... Just the concept of "French cuisine" sounds somewhat intimidating, but it's simple peasant fare that really speaks to the soul of the place. This stew is a beautiful example of just that. I'd whip it up without hesitation any day of the week.


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