Red Lentil Barley Stew Recipe

February 25, 2024

Published Feb. 23, 2024

Red Lentil Barley Stew
Armando Rafael for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Cyd Raftus McDowell.

Warm spices, fennel and leeks give this rib-sticking stew a deep, complex character. Feel free to adjust the liquid to taste. Adding a little more makes it brothier and more souplike, suitable for eating with a spoon. Or let it rest a bit. As it sits, the barley will absorb all of the liquid, making it easily forkable. Be sure to serve this with lemon wedges on the side, since the lentils and barley benefit greatly from a bright jolt right at the end.

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Yield:8 servings
  • 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 2leeks, white and light green parts, sliced into half-moons, or 1 cup sliced onion
  • 3carrots, diced
  • 1cup chopped fennel, fronds reserved
  • 1bunch cilantro, leaves and stems mostly separated and chopped (don’t worry too much about leaves and stems mingling)
  • 3garlic cloves, minced
  • teaspoons fine sea or table salt, more to taste
  • 2tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1tablespoon or
  • ½teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1cinnamon stick
  • 2quarts vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1cup pearled barley
  • 1cup red lentils
  • 1 to 2tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
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Nutritional Information

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

339 calories; 9 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 52 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams dietary fiber; 8 grams sugars; 16 grams protein; 842 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.


  1. In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until tender and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

  2. Stir in carrots, fennel, cilantro stems, garlic and salt. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, baharat, turmeric and cinnamon stick, and cook until the tomato paste begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes.

  3. Add the broth, barley and red lentils, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the barley and lentils are tender. (Add some water if the pot starts to look dry; this can be as thick or soupy as you like.)

  4. Stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice and the chopped cilantro leaves. Taste stew and add salt and lemon juice if needed (you might need a lot more salt if you started with unsalted broth). Serve in bowls drizzled with olive oil and garnished with chopped fennel fronds.

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