This rich and hearty stew is my healthy vegan version of the classic French dish, Coq au Vin – literally Chicken in Wine. The classic dish is composed of chicken braised in red wine, often flavored with bacon and cognac. While you’ll find some vegetables in the classic dish, in my version I’ve brought the vegetables center stage and paired them alongside French-style lentils. The rich, flavorful broth is aromatic – perfumed with the familiar scents of sage, thyme and bay leaf and enriched with just a hint of tomato paste and smoked sea salt. The toothsome quality of the French Du Puy lentils marries perfectly with meaty cremini mushrooms and tender parsnips, carrots and potatoes. Stirring in fresh parsley and tomatoes at the end of the cooking process gives the dish freshness to balance out the richness of the broth.
Serve this savory stew in a large shallow bowl with plenty of rustic whole grain country bread to sop up the savory juices. Start the meal with a light and simple salad of mixed greens drizzled with a light tarragon vinaigrette.
Note: If you prefer not to use wine, simply use No-Chicken Broth or vegetable broth. The soup will be divine either way.
1 small onion, diced
3 cups cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup cognac or brandy, optional (or just use water or stock)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (about 2 cups)
1 cup French du puy lentils
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups Imagine Foods Brand No-Chicken Broth or low-sodium vegetable broth
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, stripped from the steam and minced
1 bay leaf
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
Pinch smoked sea salt, optional (substitute a few drops of Liquid Smoke)
1 tablespoon kuzu root, arrowroot or organic cornstarch blended with ¼ cup cold water *(See Note, below)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fine sea salt to taste
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and mushroom in a couple tablespoons of water, stirring occasionally until golden, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic, sage and tomato paste and stir until rich and aromatic, adding a bit more water as necessary – about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the burner and carefully add the cognac or brandy and bring to a boil. If the cognac ignites, simply stand back. The flames will die out quickly.
- Stir and add the carrots, parsnips, potatoes, lentils, red wine and No-Chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender.
- Remove bay leaf, and stir in tomatoes, smoked sea salt and starch slurry. Increase temperature to medium-high for a few minutes – just enough to thicken the sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding regular sea salt along with freshly ground black pepper if desired. Stir in parsley and serve.
(Note: A mixture of kuzu root, arrowroot or cornstarch blended with cold water is called a pure starch slurry. It is usually used to thicken sauce. It must be heated to the boiling point in order to work. Never add starch directly to hot liquid or it will clump. The starch must be blended with a cold liquid before being whisked into a hot liquid.)
Recipe by Emily Barth Webber, 2006.