Lentil Stew with Kale



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This hearty, healthy lentil stew is packed with mushrooms and kale and uses fresh salsa for a boost of flavor. Added bonus: it’s budget-friendly and cooks up in 45 minutes!

Sometimes you need a simple, wholesome meal with mountains of vegetables. Do you feel me? This lentil stew is just that. It’s warm, comforting and hearty so it’s perfect for chilly, winter evenings. It requires only a handful of ingredients and about 45 minutes of cook time, yet it’s got the flavor of a stew that’s been simmering for hours. And… it’s budget-friendly. This whole meal costs about $17 to make (minus pantry staples). That’s less than $3 per serving!

Close up of thick lentil stew with kale and topped with avocado slices.

Before we get into the recipe, let’s cover some basics about lentil stew.

Can You Add Dry Lentils to Stew?

Yes! That is the glorious thing about this recipe. You don’t need to soak or do any prep work when it comes to lentils. You can toss the lentils in with the broth and other ingredients and they will be done cooking by the time the stew is ready.

How Long Does Lentil Stew Last?

This stew will last 4-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge or up to two months in the freezer! I usually make it ahead of time for the week and if I don’t get through all of it, I’ll pop it in the freezer to enjoy at a later date.

Bowl with lentil stew topped with avocado slices. A gold spoon is on the bowl. A bowl of slices cherry tomatoes is to the side.

Ingredients in Lentil Stew

  • coconut oil
  • yellow onion
  • garlic
  • button mushrooms
  • green lentils
  • salsa – I used fresh salsa from the produce section, but jarred shelf-stable salsa will work too
  • vegetable broth
  • kale
  • spices: turmeric, basil, cayenne pepper, cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan, avocado or fresh basil – or all three! For topping.

Addig Salsa to a Stew Recipe

Salsa in stew? Yup! It’s not something you’re probably used to seeing in a stew recipe, but trust me, it’s a key ingredient here. It adds an acidic component, a good amount of spice and a lots of veggies without having to spend a ton of time chopping. I used two containers of fresh salsa – a roasted garlic version and one that was restaurant style. Both were medium spice and worked beautifully for the stew. Any type of salsa will work for this recipe, but just be sure the salsa flavors are something you’d want in soup. Fruity salsa (like pineapple or mango) might not be the best fit for this recipe.

Two bowls of lentil stew with kale and topped with avocado slices. Gold spoons are on the sides of the bowls, and a bowl of cheery tomatoes are around the bowls along with garlic and a cloth napkin.

How to Make Lentil Stew

First, you’re going to prep the vegetables. Sauté the onion, garlic and mushrooms in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add in the vegetable broth, lentils, salsa, turmeric, basil, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

Add in the chopped kale and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the kale is wilted. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with freshly grated parmesan, avocado and/or fresh basil. This would also be delicious with some crusty bread!

As you can tell, this stew is super simple to throw together and would be the perfect, inexpensive weeknight dinner.

Like This Recipe? Here are Other Soup Recipes You Might Enjoy:

Love Lentils? Try These Other Tasty Lentil Recipes:

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4.08 from 14 votes

Lentil and Kale Stew

This healthy lentil stew is loaded with kale and uses fresh salsa for a boost of flavor. Added bonus: it’s budget-friendly and cooks up in 45 minutes!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6


  • 1 Tablespoon olive, avocado or coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 8 oz package white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 16 oz bag of green lentils
  • 2 16 oz containers salsa, I used roasted garlic and restaurant style
  • 32 oz 1 quart low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • for garnish: fresh grated parmesan, avocado, fresh basil


  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add in onion, garlic and mushrooms and sauté until fragrant and soft. About 6 minutes or so.
  • Add in vegetable broth, lentils, salsa, turmeric, basil, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  • Add in chopped kale and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until kale has wilted. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Spoon stew into bowls for serving. Top with avocado, fresh basil and fresh parmesan (or all three).


Serving: 1bowl with avocado | Calories: 422kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 7g | Fiber: 29g | Sugar: 9g

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

Additional Info

Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lentil stew
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
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Recipe Rating


  1. I love this idea to put salsa in a stew! Iike adding salsa because it adds a ton of flavor and is nutrient dense. I’ll have to pick up some lentils and try this! Thanks for sharing!

  2. This looks delicious! And YES I’ve been craving lots of veggies after a few too many Christmas cookies 😉

  3. I just made this and LOVE it. Your blog is my favorite, I love everything of yours that I make! Thanks so much and keep them coming! Happy New Year!

  4. So, I wasn’t able to get this made for New Year’s Day (there might have been a hangover involved), but I made this last night and my husband and I LOVED IT! It was cold outside and we had just come back from a run and I felt like I was in food heaven! I used Jack’s Salsa (Chipotle Garlic), Can’t wait to have the leftovers tonight as it will be colder.

  5. Hi Brittany,
    I just made this stew for dinner. It’s tastes yummy! 🙂 Thanks for sharing the recipe. Lot’s of leftovers :). Any idea how many days it would keep fresh in fridge? Thanks in advance. I got my lunch figured out for tomorrow:)

    Have a good night!

  6. Hi! Can I make this with precooked lentils? If yes, how would that change the cooking time? Thanks and Happy New Year!

    1. Sure. You’ll need about six cups of cooked lentils and I’m guessing it should only take about 15-20 minutes of cooking time — just enough time to warm everything up.

  7. I love salsa on everything, so looking forward to trying this one out as one of my goals for 2020 is to enjoy more plant-based meals.

  8. Serving size? One bowl is a little too vague for calorie counting. One cup?two cups? It sounds delicious, I just want to be sure I don’t go over my daily calorie count. Thanks, Brittany!

  9. 4 stars
    I can’t rate the actual recipe because I had to alter it. I only had red lentils so I reduced the cooking time to 30 mins; but I did enjoy this. It was nice comfort food feeling. Perfect for the cool weather. And definitely lots of leftovers. I think I’ll have to freeze some!

    1. I’m glad this recipe turned out for you, Carey! Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating, I so appreciate it!

      1. I love your website and always recommend your recipes to others. Thanks for all you share! 🙂 And thanks for clarifying the calorie thing because I’m a calorie counter.

        1. I made this recipe and IT WAS AMAZING! I love all of EBF’s recipes!
          I do have a question though: would you say that this is freezable???

          1. Ahh yay!! That makes me so happy to hear, Sierra. So glad you loved this recipe. I think it would freeze just fine in a airtight bag or container. 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe this evening and I loved it. I had some leftover salsa that I wanted to finish off and so I found your recipe online.
    The only change I made was I added microgreens on top and served it with garlic bread. Yum yum!

    It made enough for 6 servings!

    1. Ahh that makes me so happy to hear, Cristy! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. <3

  11. 5 stars
    I have to say I’m a chef at a private school and I use a lot of your ideas. All very good easy to make and ingredients available.

    1. Ahh that puts such a smile on my face! 🙂 I’m so glad you’re loving my recipes. Thanks for trying them and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it!

    1. Hey Theresa, I’ve never made this in the instant pot, so I’m not sure. I so have this other lentil stew recipe that you could make in the slow cooker or instant pot.

  12. 3 stars
    The lentil soup itself was really nice, but we did not like the kale. Putting it in at the very end did not allow it to cook enough and it was still crunchy. We cooked it for a while longer, and then it was eadible, but the kale leaves still added a bitterness to the otherwise satisfying soup.

    1. Yay! So glad you loved this recipe, Cheryl. Thanks so much for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I really appreciate it