One pot green lentils with sweet potatoes and kale is a hearty vegetarian meal. It’s easy to make and packed with nutrition.
Why you’ll love it: This thick meatless stew is so satisfying.
How long it takes: 40 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: soup pan or Dutch oven
When I think lentils, my mind automatically goes to delicious health food. Lentils are a powerhouse in terms of nutrition and so tasty. They are a quick-cooking legume and have lots of protein and iron. Lentils are low calorie but high in fiber.
Did you know that there are different varieties of lentils? They’re usually classified by color and each variety has unique properties and a different taste. Here’s a quick look at a few of the most common varieties.
Red lentils are very small and they break down when they’re cooked. I love red lentils in this smooth, comforting red lentil soup. They are mild and sweet in flavor. Yellow lentils are a little larger, similar in flavor, and hold their shape a bit better.
Green (or French) lentils are often used in salads because they hold their shape well and stand strong in a salad. They are so beautiful (see the photo below) and they have a really great peppery, earthy flavor. We love lentil salad with grapes and walnuts, or this lentil salad full of feta cheese and bright, fresh flavors.
One of the most common type of lentils are brown lentils. They are often the most economical choice, as well. Brown lentils can stand in for meat (check out my vegan bolognese) and are delicious in soups and stews. Try this delicious lentil soup with pasta.
About This Recipe
Green lentils boast a hearty 18 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein per serving. And surprisingly, they provide 25% of your daily value of iron.
I also throw in a little bulgur for good measure. Bulgur is made from dried cracked wheat that has been parboiled and dried. It cooks quickly and adds another layer of texture as well as additional protein, fiber, and iron.
Perfect for meatless Mondays (or any day of the week!), this stew is a healthy comfort food recipe. It’s also a great weeknight meal because you only have to wash one pan. ONE! Pretty much a busy cook’s dream come true.
I’ll get you started on the recipe and give you lots of helpful tips. Look for the printable recipe card near the end of the post with complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Green Lentils: This recipe calls for 2 cups of dried lentils or about 16 ounces. Rinse the lentils with water in a fine mesh strainer, sorting out any foreign material.
- Bulgur: This quick cooking wheat grain is usually found in the specialty food aisle at the grocery store, often with Middle Eastern foods. Cracked wheat can be substituted in this recipe.
- Sweet Potato: Diced sweet potato adds creamy texture and a hint of sweetness to this stew.
- Baby Kale: This green cooks quickly, much like spinach (which is a good substitute, if you prefer). If you use a different type of kale, add it with the lentils so it has a chance to tenderize.
- Onion, Carrots, Celery: The stew is started with this common flavor booster, often called mirepoix. The trio of vegetables is cooked with a bit of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, until they are softened.
- Garlic: Just one clove of garlic adds a savory complexity to the stew. You won’t notice a garlicky flavor but you’d miss it if it wasn’t there.
- Dry White Wine: Choose a wine that you would like to drink. Chardonnay or sauvignon blanc are good choices. Sweeter wines generally aren’t used in cooking.
- Chicken or Vegetable Broth: If you are making a vegetarian or vegan stew, choose the vegetable broth. In either case, look for reduced sodium or no salt broth, or make your own.
- Fresh Parsley and Thyme: Fresh herbs are so good in soup (and everything else!). Use additional fresh parsley for a fresh garnish.
- Lemon Juice: A squeeze of lemon juice adds a bright note of acidity which balances the flavors in the stew.
- Plain Greek Yogurt (optional): Other options are sour cream or shredded cheese.
How To Make This Recipe
You’ll need a good sized soup pan or Dutch oven to make this stew. Rinse the lentils and prep the veggies before you get started. Are you ready? Let’s get going!
Heat a little olive oil in the pan and add the diced onions, celery, and carrots. Cook and stir until they are getting tender and the onion is translucent.
Add the garlic and stir for one minute. It will smell so fragrant. Stir in the wine and the fragrance goes over the top! Take a nice deep breath and inhale all that goodness.
Next comes pretty much the rest of the ingredients: the lentils, bulgur, sweet potato, broth, and herbs. If you are using a longer cooking green (such as curly or lacinato kale), add that too.
Cook the stew until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. You’ll need to stir in a couple of cups of water to keep the lentils covered with liquid.
Stir in the baby kale and cover the pan. The kale will wilt quickly and then the stew in ready to eat. Stir in the lemon juice and taste the stew. Add more salt and pepper, or lemon juice if you feel it’s needed.
Garnish each bowl with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
Lentils are a legume and most legumes do need to be soaked before cooking so that’s a really good question! However, in the case of lentils, no soaking is necessary. Lentils are quick cooking. They will soak up a lot of liquid as they cook so be sure to add enough broth or water to the pan so they don’t dry out.
The answer to this question is a resounding Yes! Lentils are high in protein, have lots of fiber, and contain important nutrients and minerals, including a good dose of iron. If you add lots of good vegetables, including greens, to the stew, you’ll have a very healthy meatless meal that is satisfying and filling.
While all lentils are a healthy food, green lentils and black lentils contain the most protein. Black lentils are also high in anthocyanin, an antioxidant.
Make It Your Own
Stews and soups can be changed in so many ways to make it your own special recipe.
- Add more seasoning or change the seasoning. Like garlic? Use two cloves. Add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or oyster sauce if you like.
- Love meat? Bacon, ham, or sausage are good in this stew.
- Try a different type of lentil. Brown lentils are a great substitute for the green lentils.
- My husband likes to eat the stew cold with tortilla chips. Please keep in mind I am not endorsing this choice. I am only sharing the facts here.
Prep the carrots, celery and onions the night before and have them waiting in your fridge to make this recipe even easier and quicker when you get home from work or sports games or whatever you may have going on.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Lentil stew will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week in a covered container. It can be frozen for up to three months although the texture/consistency will change a little. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
To reheat, warm it up in a saucepan over medium low heat until it’s heated through. You may need to add a bit of water or broth if it’s gotten too thick. Individual portions can be heated in the microwave.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow or sweet onion (about half a large onion)
- 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 carrots)
- 1 cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)
- ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 cups uncooked green lentils, rinsed
- ½ cup dried bulgur
- 1 large sweet potato, chopped (about 2 heaping cups)
- 4 cups reduced or no sodium chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth if you prefer)
- 2 cups water, as needed
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 4 cups packed fresh baby kale (5 ounce container)
- ½ lemon, juiced (more as desired)
- plain Greek yogurt
- Additional fresh parsley for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften and onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the wine and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until wine has reduced by about half.
- Add lentils, bulgur, sweet potato, broth, parsley, and thyme, and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low to simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Add more water during the cooking process as needed (about two cups) to keep the lentils just barely covered with liquid.
- Add baby kale and cover for 1-2 minutes. Uncover, stir, and repeat as needed until kale is wilted. Sprinkle in lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve garnished with plain yogurt and fresh parsley.
- Store leftovers covered in fridge for up to a week.
- This is a great recipe to meal prep on the weekends and keep in the fridge for healthy eating all week long!
- Spinach can be substituted for the baby kale. If you happen to substitute a longer-cooking green, add it to the stew with the lentils, etc. so it has a chance to tenderize.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.