I’ve been making versions of this lentil chard stew for years and finally decided to write it up and share it, as I often recommend it to my clients. It’s an example of my “cook once; eat thrice” philosophy. Always make enough for leftovers when you’re cooking, and a stew like this is often better the next day.
Benefits of Lentils
The star of this show is the lentil. I’m enamored with lentils because they have about 16 grams of fiber per cup, and they’re delicious. Fiber keeps your gut bugs happy so that they keep you healthy! And you’re probably aware that most adults aren’t nearly meeting the daily fiber rec of 30 grams. Most holistic health professionals recommend much more–50 grams plus–which can seem daunting. How can you get that much fiber? Increase your intake of legumes and plants! By getting two bowls of veggies daily and assorted legumes or beans with meals, you can easily meet this rec.
As I mentioned, fiber is super important because it’s food for your gut bugs. If you’re not feeding your gut bacteria, they can’t help you digest food and absorb nutrients. Humans cannot digest the fibrous portion of carbohydrates (anything that is not a protein or a fat is a carb: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, for example), so our gut bacteria do it for us. Fiber keeps things moving through your digestive tract and gives bulk to your stool to help scrub your colon walls clean. Fiber also keeps you full, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and protects you from cancer and even heart disease. Other high fiber foods include avocados, berries, figs, artichokes, beans, and chia seeds.
Lentil Chard Stew
Back to the stew. This is a super healthy meal, as it not only contains the high-fiber lentils, but I also include chard so you get some leafy greens. (You can use spinach or kale). The base is chicken broth, or you can use bone broth to get all the wonderful benefits it provides. I also add curry powder for the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric–and the great taste!–making this a true superfood meal. I include chicken sausage for flavor and added protein, but vegetarians can easily leave out the meat. Enjoy!
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3-6 cloves crushed garlic
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth or bone broth, or any combo thereof
- 1 large bunch or 2 small bunches Swiss chard, tough stalks removed, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups lentils, red or green
- 1 lb chicken sausage (optional)
- Sea salt to taste
- Black pepper
- Bay leaf (optional)
- Spring water if needed
- Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and garlic and sausage if using; sauté about 5-7 minutes.
- While that's sauteeing, rinse the lentils and cull them for small stones and debris.
- Add to pot; add broth. Mix in curry and a pinch cayenne.
- Add bay leaf if using.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook at a lively simmer for about an hour, stirring from time to time to prevent the lentils from burning.
- Add water or broth as needed if liquid cooks down too quickly.
- After about 40 minutes (when lentils are not quite done but almost), add chard. It will cook down quickly.
- Taste to correct seasonings; add salt if needed.
- Add more broth or water to desired thickness (I like mine very thick).
- When the lentils are cooked and the chard is tender, serve piping hot in bowls. Top with sour cream if desired.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.