One pot green lentils with sweet potatoes and kale is a hearty vegetarian meal. It’s easy to make and packed with nutrition.

Recipe Overview

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
Servings: 8

White decorative bowl containing hearty lentil stew, garnished with cilantro and Greek yogurt.
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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.

Uncooked French green lentils spilled out onto wooden cutting board.

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.

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.
Front view of a serving of one pot lentils in serving bowl with bowl of yogurt in background.

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.

Serve this green lentil stew with herbed cornbread muffins or pumpkin cheddar muffins. Lately we’ve been loving no-knead Dutch oven bread — so crusty, yeasty and delicious!

Overhead of lentils in serving bowl, garnished with fresh cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

FAQs

Do lentils need to be soaked before making soup?

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.

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.

Make-Ahead Ideas

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.

More Soups & Stews

Recipe

One Pot Green Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

4.27 from 60 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
One pot green lentils with sweet potatoes and kale is a hearty vegetarian meal. It's easy to make and packed with nutrition.
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Ingredients 

  • 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 clove garlic, minced (more to taste)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups uncooked green lentils, rinsed (see note)
  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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 to 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 water during the cooking process as needed (about 2 cups) to keep the lentils just barely covered with liquid.
  • Add baby kale; cover and cook for 1 to 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.

Notes

  • About soaking lentils: Lentils (any variety) are quick-cooking and don’t need to be soaked. Be sure to rinse them well to remove dust and debris. If you prefer, lentils can be soaked in cold water for 2 to 12 hours. This may aid in digestion; the lentils will also cook more quickly. 
  • This is a great recipe to meal prep on the weekends and keep in the fridge for healthy eating all week long! It can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week. 
  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 318kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 242mg, Potassium: 956mg, Fiber: 20g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 10276IU, Vitamin C: 43mg, Calcium: 151mg, Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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30 Comments

  1. Roxanne Willett says:

    For a little more umami I added 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. I topped it with yogurt and blue cheese crumbles. Very nice and really quick and easy.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Great idea! I can’t wait to try it with your additions. Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment!

  2. Brando says:

    The recipe lacked a savory note, maybe could have used a different spice blend to make it more appealing. 

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m sorry to hear you didn’t love this recipe! This is a favorite of a lot of people and I think the earthy lentils, onions, celery, parsley, thyme, and kale all add great savory elements. What would you add to it next time you made it? Maybe you’d like it with a sprinkle of cumin in the spices, or a dash of hot sauce on the top.

  3. Jessica says:

    I’ve made this recipe twice now and absolutely love it. I recently started weight watchers and I’ve calculated a serving is only 3 points! This meal feels like an indulgence not healthy food.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Oh I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment, it means a lot to me! :) Good luck with WW!

  4. keri says:

    Just made this and I’ve been eating it all week. Cannot get enough! My mother, husband and son also loved it! This is a keeper, for sure.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know!

  5. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl says:

    My boys would love this healthy and delicious recipe!

  6. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    I have such a love-hate relationship with lentils. The first time I tried them they were plain and a bit too earthy for me BUT then I tried them with spice and I was hooked! I love the addition of sweet potatoes and kale in this delicious side dish or meatless meal!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Oh they are so good! But they definitely need to be prepared the right way. :) You would love the red lentil soup too.

  7. Amy @ Amy's Healthy Baking says:

    I didn’t realize there were multiple varieties of lentils, but with how many delicious-sounding recipes you just listed that you’ve used them in, I’m itching to get my hands on some of the different options and start cooking! And with how much my family loves both sweet potatoes and kale (my mom eats kale salad almost every day!), your healthy vegetarian meal would definitely be a huge hit. :)

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Yes you have to try all the varieties! Hope your family loves this meal. :)

  8. Danae @ Recipe Runner says:

    When I was a kid I used to hate lentils, I’m so glad I got over that because this one pot meal looks fantastic! I feel healthier just looking at it. :-)

  9. Megan {Country Cleaver} says:

    Ben and I love lentils – we do come from the land of lentils in Eastern Washington, so there is never a shortage. But this is one heck of a way to use them!!

  10. Matt says:

    What an awesome, healthy meatless Monday idea!