Lentil Stew with Winter Vegetables and Mustard Greens

Lentil Stew with Winter Vegetables and Mustard Greens

Lentil stew –   wholesome, nourishing and filling – makes for an inexpensive and satisfying meal.    I serve it in late autumn and winter, using up all the sturdy  root vegetables we keep in cold storage.  I bake a loaf of no-knead sourdough, open up a jar of homemade sauerkraut and ladle lentil stew into my family’s waiting bowls.  I drizzle a bit of olive oil over my stew and toss in a splash of balsamic vinegar, which bring a bit of their brightness to the stew’s humble earthiness.

Lentil stew is peasant food – simple, satisfying and inexpensive.  When times are tight and our grocery budget shrinks as a result, I rely on lentils to satisfy hungry bellies and to stretch inexpensive cuts of beef a bit further.  It’s something we rely on, and something I love.  In making this stew, I favor the French Green Lentil which is a pretty forest green color, and which keeps its shape even during prolonged cooking.  It’s a bit on the expensive side, as far as lentils are concerned, so I often substitute the brown lentil which costs a bit less, but offers a muddier flavor and texture.

Dr. Price on Lentil Stew

Those of you who’ve read Nourished Kitchen for some time, know that my family adheres to the dietary guidelines of the Weston A Price Foundation; that is, we eat traditionally prepared whole foods with special emphasis placed on good quality fats and animal foods.  In the newest edition of Dr. Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the Price Pottenger Nutritional Foundation published a letter written by Dr. Price to his nieces and nephews in which he narrowed down the scope of his work traveling the globe and investigating the traditional diets of healthy peoples into practical, simple tips for contemporary American families on a budget.

In that letter which you can read in the appendix of this book as it is not, to my knowledge, published elsewhere,  Price extolls the virtue of lentils and lentil stews:

The protein requirement can be provided each day in one egg or a piece of meat equivalent to the bulk of one egg a day. The meals can be amply modified and varied with vegetables, raw and cooked, the best of the cooked vegetables being lentils used as a soup. – Dr. Price, in a letter to his nieces and nephews.

In his work with underprivileged children, Price also fed lentil soup and whole-grain bread as part of a lunch program intended to help reverse tooth decay and support the children’s optimal growth.  Other meals included marrow stew, beef stew and liver – all served with whole-grain bread, whole milk, cod liver oil and a bit of cooked fruit for dessert.  And the children’s health excelled, even with only one solid, nutrient-dense meal each day.  You can read more about the program in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration as well as in this post by Stanley Fishman of Tender Grassfed Meat.

Green Lentils and Mustard Greens for Lentil Stew

Lentil Stew Offers Rich Nutrition

Dr. Price favored lentils with good reason: they’re simple, inexpensive and nutrient-dense.  Lentils are an excellent source of many B vitamins – particularly folate.  One cup of cooked lentils supplies 90% of the body’s need for folate, and 22% of the body’s need for thiamin.  Properly prepared through soaking, lentils are also an excellent source of minerals like iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.  Pairing them with bone broth, another superb source of minerals, provides even more nutritional support.

This lentil stew recipe also makes use of the smoky flavor of bacon fat to season the humble lentils.   I know you’ve been told time and time again to avoid bacon – told that it’s bad for your heart.   Yet, pasture-fed pork and pastured bacon offer a beautiful alternative to forgoing bacon completely.   Indeed, the fat present in bacon is largely monounsaturated – the very same type of fat found in olive oil and avocados.   It is a wholesome fat.   Moreover, pasture-fed bacon is a good source of fat soluble vitamins – particularly vitamin D which is essential for proper immune function.

Between lentils, broth, bacon fat, olive oil and a beautiful array vegetables – there’s a lot of flavor and a lot of nutrition in a simple pot of lentil stew.

Lentil Stew

Lentil Stew

Lentil Stew with Winter Vegetables and Mustard Greens

By Jenny Published: December 10, 2012

  • Yield: 1 1/2 qts (about 6 Servings)
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Ready In: 7 hrs 30 mins

Winter vegetables - carrots, parsnips and celeriac - release their sweetness into this earthy, humble Lentil Stew. Mustard greens, stirred in at the very last minute, wilt in the residual heat of the stew and provide just a whiff of pungency. Serve it with good quality olive oil (you can find my favorite kind online), and balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups French green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider viengar
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped fine)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 pound celeriac (peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch dice)
  • 3/4 pound carrots (peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch dice)
  • 1/2 pound parsnips (peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch dice)
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 dried red chili pepper
  • 2 bunches mustard greens (trimmed and sliced very thin)
  • unrefined extra virgin olive oil (to serve)
  • balsamic vinegar (to serve)

Instructions

  1. Pour the lentils into a large mixing bowl, cover with warm water by 2 inches and stir in vinegar. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel, and leave it in a warm spot in your kitchen for 8 to 12 hours. Drain the lentils and rinse them well.
  2. Melt the bacon fat in a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat. Toss the onions into the bacon fat, and cook them until fragrant and translucent. Stir in celeriac, carrots and parsnips. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt, cover the pot, and sweat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in lentils, chicken stock, chili pepper and bay leaves. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes until lentils are tender. Pluck out the chili pepper and bay leaves.
  4. Turn off the heat, and stir in mustard greens. Cover and allow the greens to wilt in the residual heat of the lentils for about 5 minutes. Serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    I *adore* lentil pretty much anything!

    Your recipe looks simple and beautiful – I will give it a try!

    I’ve actually been trying to recreate a lentil soup I had in Spain a couple of years ago. It was almost like a cream of or pureed lentil soup – I got it in a small town in the hills, I don’t speak the language (even though I’m there often!), and couldn’t get them to understand I’d died and gone to heaven! LOL!

    Anyway – thank you! Looking forward to trying this out soon!

  2. Erin C says

    I have made this recipe a few times now. It is very good. I haven’t tried it in a slow cooker, I’ve just cooked it in a large stainless pot on my stove. I like to make it on the weekend to take to work for lunch for the whole week. I never get sick of it!

  3. Deb says

    I love anything with lentils! My German mother made lentil stew throughout my childhood. She made hers with a little added beef sometimes. My mother also added a little sugar along with the vinegar. Instead of sugar…agave nectar could be used….just a spoonful or so. It makes the lentil soup a little sweet and sour. Making it that way brings back a lot of fond memories for me. Try it you may find out you like it too.

  4. vickie wilson says

    ok,,,, maybe it is just me, I didnt see exactly when you add the lentils to the pot. Is it with the chicken stock?

  5. Brianne says

    I too love lentil stews. Do you just add a touch of olive oil and vinegar to the bowl when serving? That’s a unique idea, I’ll have to try that next time. I must admit, I’m partial to a dollop of soured cream with my lentil soups!

  6. aliyanna says

    We love lentil…but make a wonderful bread or cracker with them….. We soak rice and lentils (use half and half.) for 24 hrs. Rinse well. Put in processor and blned into a slurry. We then add a cup of teff to every cup of slurry, adding water as needed to make a thick pancake dough and let it ferment for 2 days. We then add liquid as needed to thin to a good pouring consistancy (we use coconut milk) and pour onto a really well greased( we love bacon grease) pan and bake at 350 til done….10 min or so.
    Yummy

    ps….the fermenting process doesn’t always seem good!!! lol

  7. judith scott says

    made this tonight. thank you for the reminder. i was a little aghast at the soaking time.
    learned from you to add baking soda. thats a lovely addition. never knew to soak lentils.
    apple cider vinegar for us rather than balsamic,a little bit of bacon on the top and lots of
    parsley. sometimes make this with lots of tumeric,ginger and garlic. love to the humble and gifted
    lentil!

  8. says

    Our daughter’s wonderful kindergarten teachers at her Waldorf School gave us a recipe where you use brown rice, Braggs amino acids & apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and red lentils. You separately soak the lentils and rice over night or even a couple of days rinsing them a couple of times and then just put them in the slow cooker. They kind of melt into the rice and the children don’t really notice them. Just one more way to sneak in a little extra protein. :) I love lentils and can’t wait to try your recipe! :)

  9. says

    I’m so glad you added vinegar! I worked in Spain one summer years ago and we were served this wonderfully refreshing lentil soup at lunch. I used to think of lentils are fall/winter food not hot mid-day summer fare, but with plenty of light broth and a splash of vinegar, it became both filling and refreshing. Thanks for the recipe!

  10. says

    Made this tonight and it was fantastic! I subbed a sweet potato for the celeriac because I had one on hand. I served the soup with a choice of whole wheat curly pasta or roasted pumpkin. It was amazing. My daughter and husband begged for seconds! Thanks for the recipe!!

  11. says

    This is just the sort of recipe I’ve been looking for. We love lentil stew and this one sounds delish, especially with the bacon fat to add smoky depth. I’ll also finish with olive oil and balsamic. Thanks!

  12. Bebe says

    Finally made this tonight, using brown lentils and celery instead celeriac. Even my dyed-in-the-wool carnivorous 13yo son gave it a thumbs up! The olive oil and balsamic vinegar truly elevate the flavors.

  13. Ros says

    Hello Jenny, I wonder if you can advise me: Every time I’ve soaked lentils with vinegar in the water I’ve found that they won’t cook. My mother taught me to never add anything acidic (like tomatoes) or salt to lentils before they are cooked. I realised the other day that soaking with vinegar before cooking of course counts as adding acid. Will soaking in plain water dissolve phytic acid? I’d greatly appreciate what information you can offer.

    • MsDrPepper says

      Same here.. I’ve had great results just soaking them. Then after they are cooked, add the acidic or salty flavors etc. I do that with other beans too, fava beans etc. for Foul Maddemes etc.

  14. says

    Question. Where I live in S. Sudan, we can only get lentils without skins. Any idea what effect this has on the nutrient profile you mention above?

  15. Chris says

    Hi,
    Your lentil meal is shown as nut free. Actually lentils are in the Legume family and are deadly to people who have a nut allergy. We have found that out when my son was little. Legume family are lentils, peas ect.

    Thank you for listening.

  16. Kim says

    When you had originally posted this I made it and it is for sure a WINNER. I added to it pastured ham steaks- cubed. A really hearty soup and this was the first time people held their bowls out for seconds and thirds. Not too much left for leftovers :(

  17. MsDrPepper says

    French Lentils? what’s wrong with ordinary brown lentils or the exotic red or yellow lentils like I see at the Middle Eastern / Asian grocery stores in town. I love lentil soup regardless…. just thought it funny that you specified only French lentils. :)

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