Help me make something with lentils and buffalo meat

I’ve got:

1lb lentils
1lb ground buffalo
8oz tomato sauce

along with:

beef broth
chili powder
garlic powder
What I have in mind is to brown the buffalo with some finely chopped onions, add an amount of the lentils and carrots, and then mix in tomato sauce, beef broth, and the spices to taste. Then I’ll add enough water to cover everything, and stew it.

Would this work? How much do lentils swell up relative to how much rice would? What would you add to it? What would you take away?

Lentils are kind of unpredictable in how quickly they cook and can get mushy. I think I would cook them separately and add them to the other stuff when it has cooked as much as you want.

The spices sound good, although I generally use fresh garlic, rather than the powder.

I would skip the water. The tomato sauce and beef broth should be plenty of liquid.

I’d probably make smallish meatballs. Depending how lean the meat is, you might want some crumbs and an egg to hold them together. A little chopped onion would be good, or save it for later. Brown the meatballs, toss in the onion to fry a bit, then spices very briefly, and add the liquids. As cher3 says, cook the lentils separately. I’d serve them on the side, but that’s just my taste.

I’ve looked up some recipes for lentil soup, and it’s about a 50/50 split between adding the lentils at the beginning or later on. On the one hand, I’d like a thicker consistency so I don’t mind the lentils breaking up. On the other, I don’t want a bunch of mush.

I’ve been on this lentil kick ever since 1997 or thereabouts. We were at glacier national park and I had this great buffalo sausage and lentil soup. I’m not trying to recreate that, since I can only remember that I liked it rather than how it tasted, but that’s how it got started.

One thing I’ve noticed though, is that nearly all the recipes call for bay leaves. Thinking about it, a lot of such things want bay leaves. Why is that? What does a bay leaf do?

Also, how about this: cumin, garlic, and chili powder–what WOULDN’T work with that? What spices would conflict?

I’d take away the tomato sauce. Lentils are yummy but very mild. Tomato sauce would overpower both the texture and the taste of the lentils. The stew would be just fine without it. Chili powder would be optional.

And of course you need a bay leaf.