Warm and hearty One-Pot Lentil Stew with sweet potatoes is packed with good-for-you ingredients: delicious tender sweet potatoes, creamy coconut milk, aromatic spices, kale, and lentils! This lentil stew is incredibly fulfilling and true comfort food in one bowl.
This recipe is Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-free, and Gluten Free.
Why it's yummy
- Comfort food in a bowl. There is nothing better than to enjoy a hearty, cozy, creamy bowl of lentil stew on a cold evening.
- Simplicity. Made with simple ingredients - sweet potatoes, lentils, coconut milk, some basic ingredients that you already have sitting in your pantry. This combination makes a very rich and flavorful lentil stew.
- Versatile. I love how easy it is to customize this one-pot meal, you can sub the sweet potatoes with pumpkin, butternut squash, regular potatoes, chickpeas, green beans. Serve with ciabatta, cornbread, chili flakes, and freshly chopped cilantro. Simply delicious!
- Dried brown lentils - are the star of the show, they are a great base for any rich and hearty stew. I recommend using brown lentils that are soaked in water prior. Why? We need to make sure they are clean and will cook faster. Other types of lentils such as green lentils are more thicker and will cook longer + they are not as tasty as brown or red ones. Red lentils are better for soups as these will cook very fast and increase ins ize quite a bit. All of the lentils are similar but they have different flavors.
- The vegetable broth -or whatever broth you want to use, for non vegan modification, feel free to use chicken or beef broth.
- Aromatics - garlic, onion and ginger are the best base for this kind of soup. Thanks to their aromatic fragrant taste and smell, they are irreplaceable and combine wel with creamy coconut milk.
- Coconut milk - shake the can before adding to the soup. You need all of it - the crema nd the milk for a hearty stew. For best texture and flavor, I recommend using full fat rather than lite coconut milk.
- Spices - coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili flakes, black pepper add complexity creating a wonderful aroma that complements the lentils and sweet potatoes so well.
- Sweet potatoes - thanks to their sweetness and tender texture, they are by far the best for creamy coconut milk-based stews or soups. Their sweet flavor works great to balance the savory and spicy ingredients in this lentil stew.
In a large pot over medium heat, add oil and saute onions until translucent. Add ginger, garlic, chili flakes, coriander, cumin, turmeric.
Add the sweet potatoes to the pot and stir to coat in the spices. Follow with lentils and stir to combine all the ingredients.
Pour in the vegetable stock, cover with the lid and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer until lentils become tender but the potatoes almost cooked.
Stir in the coconut milk and kale. Add the lime juice. Continue to simmer with closed lid until kale is softened slightly about 3 minutes. Season with salt if needed and simmer for a few minutes more. Squeeze 1-2 lime wedges into the soup.
Your stew is ready! Pour into individual bowls and garnish with fresh sliced jalapenos, chili flakes, lime wedges, cilantro. Serve with fresh bread or cornbread.
- Green or Brown lentils are preferred choice for stews and soups. They hold their shape and texture very well after cooking.
- Soak the lentils for a couple of hours or overnight to reduce cooking time and easy digestion.
- Use more flavorful vegetables. In addition to kale, garlic, onion and sweet potatoes, carrots, and celery, butternut squash, pumpkin, zucchini, peas, and fresh or canned tomatoes are tasty options to fill up this soup with even more fiber and nutritional benefits!
- Let the soup simmer enough to thicken and become even more aromatic once the ingredients had enough time to blend.
- This stew thickness can be easily adjusted by using more or less broth or coconut milk.
Just a couple of quick facts why this vegan lentil stew is so good for you:
Lentils are a rich source of plant-based protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.
- Lentils are high in energizing iron (which makes them perfect for vegans), folate and vitamin B1 which helps to maintain a steady heartbeat.
- Low calorie - lentils are low in fat and calories/
- They are high in potassium, magnesium, and other minerals that are important for heart health.
- Lentils are low in sodium and saturated fat. This may help to lower the cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar. Consumed weekly, lentils help to maintain a healthy diet and health which can be a key factor in reducing the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
- Lentils have plant chemicals called polyphenols that have antioxidant activity that help the body against free radical damage and oxidative stress.
This vegan stew is delicious on its own but served with a small side dish or bread becomes an even heartier meal. Here are a few of my suggestions on what to serve with lentil stew:
- Crusty bread
- Green salad
- Fresh Herbs
- You can add a vegan sausage or ground meat to your soup. Before adding these to the soup, brown the meat in the skillet with little cooking oil.
- Swap sweet potato to butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin, cauliflower (I have a similar and very delicious Chickpea and Cauliflower Coconut Curry recipe if you want to try next), carrots, turnip, rutabaga, kabocha.
- Swap lentils to barley, chickpeas, red lentils (should be added on very last step when simmering)
- Swap kale for spinach, green beans, mushrooms, parsnips, celery.
Kale and Other Leafy Greens
A quick note: For this post's pictures, I wanted to chop the kale into medium large pieces so it’s bright green leaves could shine through beautifully. However when you make it, I recommend chopping the leaves more fine or using baby kale instead (similar to spinach and wilts quickly) - it will cook faster and be easy to eat.
We like to use kale or spinach for this vegan lentil stew recipe. You can use one of those common varieties, they are similar but still vary in cooking time and flavor.
- Common curly kale - this is the most common kale type found in most of grocery stores. Its color tends to be pale greenish with frilled-edged leaves and long stems.
- Lacinato Kale (Dino Kale, Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero) - The dark blue-green colored with long leaves and a kind of flat-looking kale variation. Its leaves are tougher and hence are mostly used in soups (Tuscan soup) and stews. More rare in salads.
- Spinach - baby spinach or regular spinach, chopped. Use fresh spinach for that bright green color and texture. Frozen spinach can be used but I recommend thawing it first rather than adding straight to the soup from frozen. It will change the color of the soup and will be full of very fine and small bits of spinach. It’s just my personal preference and what my family likes but of course, use what you have readily available.
- Swiss chard - another great option. When eaten raw, swiss chard has bittery flavor just like kale but once it’s cooked it is softer and milder in flavor (very similar to spinach).
- Collard greens - will take longer to cook, so make sure to add these a little earlier than you would kale.
For any type of greens you’ll decide to use here, wash it properly and chop it into smaller pieces before cooking.
Storing and Freezing Instructions
To Store. Let the curry cool completely, and transfer it to airtight containers, refrigerate, and consume within 2-3 days.
To Freeze. If you want to freeze it the best time for it is to do it right after making. Let the stew cool down first, and transfer to airtight containers. This way it will remain fresh for longer and retain its nutritional value. Freeze for 2-3 months. You may need to add more liquid when reheating it after thawing.
This dish is quite fulfilling on its own and if you want to serve some side dishes, here's what I recommend:
- Bread - crusty bread, biscuits, baguette, ciabatta, dinner rolls or tasty garlic bread or garlic toast are our go-to’s.
- A simple salad - cucumber, tomato or classic kale salad.
- Steamed, grilled or Roasted vegetables - for added nutrition! My Roasted Pumpkin from this salad recipe, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Roasted beets, carrots,
- Hummus - we love a good hummus with our vegetarian meals! From my Classic hummus recipe, Pumpkin Hummus to Roasted Pepper Hummus, Or for something different try this Eggplant Caviar Spread recipe.
How long does lentil stew last?
Keep refrigerated for 3 days, it will actually taste so much better on the next day!
Do I need to soak lentils?
Lentils do not require long soaking like other pulses. I usually soak them for a couple of hours and then rinse them multiple times with cold water until all the dust is removed. They will also cook faster this way in a stew.
Easy Soup Recipes
ALL SOUP recipes.
Easy One-Pot Meals
This Vegan Sweet Potato Lentil Stew recipe is adapted from The First Mess.
I would appreciate it so much if you left a comment about this recipe below! Subscribe to join the TYB newsletter and receive free recipes straight to your inbox! Let's connect via Facebook, IG & Pinterest!
Vegan Coconut Lentil Stew With Sweet Potatoes
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- ½ cup brown lentils properly rinsed
- 4 cup kale stems removed and leaves chopped
- 3 ¾ cup vegetable stock
- 13.5 oz can coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 small onion
- salt to taste
- cilantro (chili flakes, fresh jalapeno, lime wedges for garnish)
- In a large pot over medium heat, add oil and saute onions until translucent. Add ginger, garlic, chili flakes, coriander, cumin, turmeric.
- Add the sweet potatoes to the pot and stir to coat in the spices. Follow with lentils and stir to combine all the ingredients.
- Pour in the vegetable stock, cover with the lid and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer until lentils become tender but the potatoes almost cooked.
- Stir in the coconut milk and kale. Add the lime juice. Continue to simmer with closed lid until kale is softened slightly about 3 minutes. Season with salt if needed and simmer for a few minutes more. Squeeze 1-2 lime wedges into the soup.
- Your stew is ready! Pour into individual bowls and garnish with fresh sliced jalapenos, chili flakes, lime wedges, cilantro. Serve with fresh bread or cornbread.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)