Golden French Lentil Stew to warm you from the inside out. Full of healthy ingredients and anti-inflammatory benefits, a perfect cozy meal!
- 1/2 cup 125 mL raw cashews, or 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 mL) raw sunflower seeds
- 2 cups 500 mL water
- 2 tablespoons 30 mL extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow or sweet onion diced, or 2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced (about 2 cups/500 mL)
- 4 large cloves garlic minced (2 tablespoons/ 30 mL minced)
- 3/4 cup 175 mL uncooked French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 4 cups 1 L low-sodium vegetable broth
- 3 cups 750 mL stemmed and chopped Swiss chard or kale leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 stalks celery diced (3/4 cup/175 mL)
- 2 teaspoons 10 mL ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons 7 mL dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon 5 mL ground turmeric
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons 5 to 7 mL fine sea salt, to taste, plus a couple pinches
- 2 medium carrots diced (1 heaping cup/275 mL)
- 1 14-ounce/398 mL can of diced tomatoes, with juices
- 1 to 2 teaspoons 5 to 10 mL white wine vinegar, to taste
- Put the cashews in a bowl and cover with a couple of inches of water. Soak for 1 to 2 hours or overnight. (For a quick-soak method, cover with boiling water and soak for 30 to 60 minutes.) Drain and rinse.
- Transfer the cashews to a high-speed blender along with 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the water. Blend on high until super smooth and creamy in texture. Set the cashew cream aside.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, and a couple pinches of salt, and sauté until the onion is softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Stir in the carrots and celery, and cook for another few minutes or so. Stir in the cumin, thyme, and turmeric until combined.
- Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, lentils, broth, and remaining water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
- Stir in the cashew cream and chard. Add salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste. (The vinegar’s role is to add a little bit of brightness to the soup; add a bit at a time and keep tasting, as it can quickly overwhelm.)
- Cook for a couple of minutes over low-medium heat, until the chard is wilted, and then serve.
- This stew will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or you can freeze it for 1 to 2 months (always let it cool completely before storing). The stew will thicken after sitting in the fridge; you can thin it out with a bit of broth when you reheat it, if desired, or simply serve it thick with some crusty bread.
- This golden-hued stew is remarkably rich and creamy, thanks to the addition of a dairy-free cream base that can be either nut or seed based.
- When I was developing this recipe, I tested the stew with both cashew and sunflower seed cream, and both versions work beautifully.
- It’s a friendly recipe for those with tree nut allergies (provided you can still eat sunflower seeds).
- Turmeric gives this stew its joyful, rich color, not to mention anti-inflammatory benefits; curcumin, one of the compounds in turmeric, has been shown to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
- The stew is spiced with dried thyme and cumin, and it packs a hefty portion of greens (Swiss chard or kale—your choice!) and other hearty vegetables like carrot and celery.
- The French green lentils hold their shape well and add a lovely, chewy element, but feel free to use green or brown lentils if that’s all you can find.
- The stew will just be thicker since green and brown lentils break down a bit more.