curried red lentil stew with swiss chard

4 Jan

If you live in Minnesota, you know that it is most definitely soup and stew weather. It was below zero on the way to work this morning and during the next two months, that will most likely be a common occurrence. When the weather gets like this I turn to cozy pants, hot tea and stews. That way I can warm up on the outside and from the inside. Believe me – it’s necessary.

During a day off during the Christmas break, I made plans to workout with Meghan (in the middle of the day!) and then join up with Amanda and baby Kaler for lunch.  Lunch was back at Meghan’s and we were fortunate enough to have it prepared by Tommy. Remember him? He’s the awesome tree farmer/maple syrup maker/fly-fishermam/recovering engineer/most kind-hearted boyfriend of Meghan. Duh.

How cute are they?

We returned to Meghan’s house, we walked in the door and were met with the smell of sweet, hearty curry. Not to mention, a beautifully set table. Thanks Tommy! The stew was perfect after a super tough weight workout. The lentils and garbanzo beans are great sources of protein and when you mix them with some hearty vegetables, spices and some broth? A bowl that will make you and your muscles very happy.

This dish is one that Meghan and Tommy make all the time and I fell in love after one bite. I went home, found the recipe and made it myself two days later. That’s how much I loved it. It’s super simple which is an added bonus; It was a cinch to put together on a weeknight.

I made a number of changes from the orginal recipe because…well…that’s what I tend to do. The major changes included:

  • adding carrots (because I had them and I knew they would be perfect).
  • utilizing the chard stems. I wouldn’t dare throw them away  – they are delicious!
  • garlic – I have to put it in everything.
  • adding some additional seasoning. I thought mine needed some salt and I really liked the addition of cumin in this dish.

A side note on swiss chard: Have you cooked with it before? It is a favorite in our house, but I’ve come to realize that a lot of people don’t know what it is or what to do with it. This was evident at one of the Christmas gatherings I attended. I brought a winter minestrone (and it was delicious) that had swiss chard in it. Three different people asked me what the “green stuff” was and when I told them it was swiss chard, they said “swiss what?”. I obliged by enlightening them about the world of chard. Swiss chard is a leafy vegetable that is delicate enough to eat raw, but hearty enough to hold up in soups. We have grown it in our garden the past three years and our favorite way to eat is is simply sauteed with some onion, olive oil, salt and pepper (and bacon if we have it). The stems are completely edible, they just need a little more cooking time than the leaves. If you like spinach, I am confident you’ll like swiss chard. Bonus points that it is one of the most nutritous vegetables out there. It’s a great source of Vitamins K, A, E and C, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron and Calcium. Score!

Curried Red Lentil Stew with Swiss Chard

adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 6 hearty servings

Note: I made my stew pretty thick and I still added additional broth at the end. If you don’t have extra broth to add, water will work just fine.

This stew begs for a slice or chunk of hearty bread. I think pita or naan would also be splendid. I found the flavors only got better as the stew sat in the fridge. I looked forward to the leftovers every day.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stalks removed and chopped, leaves roughly chopped (keep stalks and leaves separate)
  • 2 small garlic cloves (or one large), minced
  • 5 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 to 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 pound red lentils (about 2 cups)
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • Plain yogurt (optional)
  • Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, chard stems and carrot; sauté until soft and they start to turn color, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Mix in curry powder, cayenne, cumin and salt. Add 6 cups of broth, increase heat and bring to a boil. Add lentils, garbanzos, and chard leaves; reduce heat to medium.

    Cover; simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 minutes. Add broth if needed. Divide stew among bowls. Top with yogurt, if desired.


    10 Responses to “curried red lentil stew with swiss chard”

    1. Jackson January 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

      It looks like a lot of curry. I’m not a big fan. I haven’t used it in a long time and didn’t love it last time I did. Maybe I used the wrong kind or it was old? What do you suggest?

      • jen January 5, 2011 at 7:18 am #

        I thought 5 teaspoons sounded like a lot too, but it was not over powering at all. I used Penzey’s (surprised?) sweet curry powder. If your powder has been sitting around for a few years, I would definitely start a new bottle. With all that said, you might just not like curry. It happens and we can still be sisters. :)
        Brette used to not like curry, but he kept trying different things and now enjoys it.

    2. anne January 5, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      Mm, this sounds good and definitely make-able for me:)

    3. Willa January 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

      I can’t wait to make this!

    4. MB January 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

      made this last night and loved it!!! thanks so much for the healthful and delicious recipe. i did substitute organic russian kale for the chard, and it worked great.

      • jen January 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

        I’m so glad you liked it! I imagine kale would be a wonderful substitute. Yum.

    5. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking January 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

      This looks really good!

    6. Kim March 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

      Hi! After Brette’s recommendation I made this for dinner last night with just a couple of changes. (I added golden beets – loved the sweetness – and substituted great northern beans for the garbanzo beans.) It was delicious and the leftovers are even better. I can’t wait to try another of your recipes.

      • jen March 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

        I’m so glad you liked it! I love the idea of beets….though Brette HATES beets.


    1. Freedom Fritters and Recipe Roundup | The Heavy Table - Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog - January 6, 2011

      […] noodle soup, Ta’amiya of Justice and Understanding (a.k.a. “Freedom Fritters”), curried red lentil stew with swiss chard, savory [cheddar herb] cupcakes, and horseradish-crusted prime rib and sweet potato souffle. […]

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