This slow cooker red lentil stew is one of the best things I’ve made this year, or maybe ever.
It all started when I went to Small Business Saturday with my friend Anna. We had lunch at Union Loafers, a popular spot in St. Louis. I ordered a bowl of their kale garbanzo bean soup and I was blown away. The texture, spices, and color made me forget that it was raining. It improved my mood and increased my willingness to be anywhere besides my apartment.
I was going to try to recreate the soup exactly as it was, but then I realized that I wanted to add some red lentils. I also decided to put in onion, garlic, fresh ginger and turmeric, and pepper. I threw everything into my slow cooker at lunchtime on Sunday and went about my day, which involved lying on my coach watching back-to-back episodes of “The Crown.”
At around three hours into the cook time, I started smelling the soup from the other room. I wanted to open the lid and eat some, but I forced myself to hold back. A few minutes before the five hour mark, when you’re supposed to stop cooking the soup, I added chopped kale, garbanzo beans, coconut milk, and some salt. I would highly recommend tasting the soup at this stage to see if it needs more salt.
I poured myself a bowl and took it into the other room with some cut up Union Loafers baguette. I dipped my spoon in and took a sip. My first thought was, I can’t believe how good this is. My second thought is, I’m never using ground spices in soup again.
The latter might be hard to achieve, but in the case of this soup, I would recommend springing for the good stuff. Freshly grated ginger and turmeric takes your soup from tasting like box variety to restaurant quality. I also love the color it turned the soup. It was bright, vibrant, and warming, exactly what I needed after a carb-loaded Thanksgiving weekend.
When you drink this soup, it basically feels like someone waves a magic wand over your body and takes away all the stress and pain. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. It has anti-inflammatories including turmeric and ginger, so it calms your insides down. It also warms you up, so if you’re like me and get cold in a 70 degree house, it comes in handy.
I heated up the leftovers for lunch today and the soup was still good on day two. It might have even been better, because the flavors had a chance to set.
Here’s a song to get you started on your slow cooker red lentil stew journey.
Slow Cooker Red Lentil Stew
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced thin
4 small garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp freshly grated turmeric
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 bunch lacinato kale, roughly chopped
1 cup canned, full-fat coconut milk
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 2 limes
Combine the first 11 ingredients in your slow cooker and stir thoroughly. Put the lid on and cook for five hours on low. After five hours, stir in the kale, coconut milk, garbanzo beans, and lime juice. Add salt to taste. Put the lid back on the slow cooker and heat on the “warm” setting for 15 minutes. Enjoy!