Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Easy Cooking 101: How to Make a Lentil-Carrot-Kale Stew

With winter not over yet, there's still some time to make a hearty soup or stew. A good vegetarian (but filling) option is a lentil-carrot-kale stew. It's healthy, delicious, easy to make and inexpensive. Add a small salad and a chunk of good bread and you'll get a several meals from 15 minutes of active cooking and 40 minutes of passive.

In a large soup pot coated with a little butter or olive oil, sauté one chopped onion, two or three chopped carrots, some minced fresh ginger and the chopped stalks of any variety of kale. (For the kale stalks, separate them from the leaves; we'll use the leaves in 40 minutes or so.) If you don't have ginger, no problem; if you like garlic, add garlic! Remember to stir occasionally as we want the vegetables soft, but not browned.

When the veggies are soft, add some spices (cumin and coriander are my favorites) plus some unrefined sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir to combine. Add one cup of French lentils and six cups of cold water, plus a bay leaf. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, return to a simmer and cook (mostly covered) until the lentils are soft, but not falling apart. Turn off the heat and add the kale leaves (chopped into bite-size pieces). Stir to combine the kale; the leaves will cook from the residual heat of the mixture.

Let cool, taste, reseason with salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc. Like the beef-mushroom-barley soup we made earlier this winter, this soup will thicken as it sits in the refrigerator. To counter, add a little water to thin it out when reheating. As with most soups and stews, flavor will improve over the course of several days.


Anonymous said...

I have everything on hand to make this, so we will be eating it for dinner tomorrow night! Thanks for the inspiration!

Chef Rob said...

Sounds great! Let us know how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

It was good! Now, may I ask, since we're talking about lentils, for your opinion on the types of lentils. My experience has been with the greenish brownish ones. I understand the red ones are somewhat delicate, so what are they best used for? Is there a nutritional difference?

Chef Rob said...

Glad to hear that.

For nutritional info (nutritional profiles are grouped under the general term "lentils," so I am assuming there are no major nutritional differences among the different varieties) check out and

Yes, some lentils (especially the red and orange) are quite delicate. Use them to thicken soups and make purees. The brown and green, which hold their shape better, can be used in salads and side dishes. But be careful; these will turn mushy as well if overcooked.