This month, V for Life (VfL) shares the recipe guide to a versatile and hearty stew, perfect to introduce within your home as the cold weather is upon us.

VfL is working across the UK to make sure that care establishments can cater well and ethically for older veg*ns. They seek to do this through their UK List, which details every organisation and care home that makes a special effort to cater for older vegans and vegetarians.

As the colder weather begins to creep in, there’s nothing better than a warming stew when it comes to dinner time. Just the thing for a cold winter’s day, although the cooking time is long it can easily sit alongside other dishes while the oven is on. Alternatively, the stew can be cooked in a large pan on the hob.

Stews can be made with a wide range of ingredients, making them versatile and suitable for accommodating various dietary needs and preferences. They can be adapted to be gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sodium, or high-fibre, among other options.

Along with being a versatile option, stew is a cost-effective meal option, especially when serving a large group of people. Understanding that your care home will have budgets to consider, stews can be an economical choice while still offering nutritional value.


  1. Preheat oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
  2. Meanwhile, trim and halve the leeks and celery lengthways. Chop into rough 2cm chunks.
  3. Peel and finely chop the onion and carrots into 2cm pieces.
  4. Place in a large ovenproof casserole pan over a medium-low heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil.
  5. Pick, roughly chop and add the thyme and rosemary leaves. Add the bay.
  6. Cook for around 20 minutes, or until soft and sweet, stirring frequently.
  7. Chop garlic and fry for extra couple of minutes.
  8. Add the cloves and flour to the veg, stirring well to combine. Add the tomato purée and pour in the tomatoes and porter (or wine, if using).
  9. Add the lentils and any roasting juices, cover with the stock or 1 litre/35fl oz of cold water and stir well.
  10. Turn the heat up to high and bring to the boil, then cover and place in the hot oven for around 2 hours, or until the lentils are soft. Stir every hour or so, and add a splash of water to loosen, if needed.
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes.
  12. Add a good splash of vegan Worcestershire sauce or alternative.
  13. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy with Pappardelle pasta, creamy vegan mash and seasonal steamed greens.

Chef’s tip:

Turn this stew into soup by adding a good splash of boiling water and simmering to your desired consistency. VfL Chef Ollie loves this stirred through pappardelle pasta and served with a grating of vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast on top.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Serves: 6


2 medium leeks
2 sticks of celery
1 onion
4 medium carrots
1 tbsp olive oil
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 fresh bay leaves
1 clove garlic
4 cloves
2 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
275ml vegan porter or red wine (*use kosher wine if required)
200g/7oz red lentils
1 litre/35fl oz vegetable stock (optional)
Vegan Worcestershire sauce, OR glug of apple cider vinegar, OR 1 tsp tamarind and 1 tbsp molasses

Salt and pepper