I start with one white onion and one bell pepper, which I slice into thin strips and toss in a Dutch oven with a tablespoon of olive oil. I let that cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and peppers are just tender.
Next, I add a bunch of sliced carrots (about 2 cups worth). I like my carrots to be rather large in this recipe, and I always cut them at an angle because they look beautiful that way! Saute that for a few more minutes.
Next I peel and slice two large, ripe tomatoes and sprinkle a little salt on them to bring out the sweetness, like so. I toss those into the pot as well and let them cook for a few minutes.
Finally, I add about two cups of cooked lentils. You can cook the lentils yourself ahead of time, following the package directions, or you can buy pre-cooked lentils. (Trader Joe's has excellent pre-cooked baby lentils from France, which can be found in the refrigerator section of the store. That's what I use when I'm pressed for time.) Pour in about 1 cup of water or vegetable broth, and season with salt, pepper, and cumin until the flavors taste just right. If you want a little heat, add some cayenne pepper as well.
I let everything cook together on a low heat until all the flavors meld and the liquid reduces-- this simmering process should continue for at least half an hour, but the longer the stew cooks, the better it tastes! Serve hot on brown rice, or my favorite, fresh arugula!