Usually when we make a lentil stew we add turkey sausage but I felt a totally vegan dish would suit me better. I started by sautéing the mushrooms and onions in a little olive oil. After they were softened I added celery, red bell pepper, and part of the carrots I was planning on using in the dish. I wanted the carrots for flavor in the base of the stew and then added again nearer to serving for some texture.
John picked over and rinsed 1 1/4 cups of brown lentils and added them along with 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth to the pot. Then it simmered for about 1/2 hour with the reserved carrots going in for the last 5 minutes.
I put a layer of raw shredded kale in my bowl, then the stew, and garnished with a few broken pretzel sticks for crunch. The carrots and red bell pepper gave the stew a subtle sweetness, the mushrooms added a meaty flavor, and the pretzels added a salty crunch. Success!