Rachel's Table

I’ve-Overindulged-One-Too-Many-Times Red Lentil Stew

You know the lyrics…

It’s that time of year when the world falls in love. Every song you hear seems to say….

Eat pies. And cake. Now try this ham with maple glaze. Wash it down with some fudge. 

This time of year is TERRIBLE for healthy eating. Cookies, pies, meat-heavy dishes, hot chocolate, copious amounts of red wine, and cheese plates are everywhere. Making good choices is difficult and overindulgence becomes a habit.

I’ve overindulged one too many times already (and we’re only half way through December!). The thought of another Snickerdoodle gives me hot and cold sweats and the sight of eggnog sends a wave of nausea through my entire body.

It’s times like these that I make a trip to a place I love but usually avoid–Whole Foods. Not that there’s anything wrong with Whole Foods. I just try to shop at local farm stands and farmers markets instead of chain stores. But this time of year, my favorite places are shut down for the winter months.

Walking through the front doors of Whole Foods, I am overjoyed to see the amount of fresh, local, and organic produce they offer; I swear I can hear angels singing (or is that Taylor Swift?).  Kale, beets, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, carrots–I grab them all.

I am a little dumbfounded, almost starstruck, when I visit the beans and grains section. So many choices! Such pretty colors! I bag up some lentils in hopes of making a healthy soup to get me through the week.

The resulting soup was so rich and flavorful that I never missed the lack of meat or Snickerdoodles. Although I will admit one thing–this soup goes great with a bold red wine.

I’ve-Overindulged-One-Too-Many-Times Red Lentil Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (you can find it in most grocery stores)

1 large onion, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups red lentils, picked through and rinsed

8 cups stock (any kind, I used turkey stock)

Juice of one lemon

Yummy red lentils cook up faster than other lentils

Yummy red lentils cook up faster than other lentils

Heat oil in dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add the chili garlic sauce, stirring constantly for a few seconds. Add onion, carrots and garlic. Cook until soft, about 6 minutes.

Add the spices, salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Stir. Add the broth and lentils. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Add the lemon juice and give it a good stir. Top with chopped parsley or cilantro.

You must make this.

You must make this.

This soup is my new favorite, because it came together so easily, but tasted complex. It thickens quite a bit and could easily pass for a side dish with fish or chicken.

So what about you? What do you crave after an overindulgent weekend? Or better yet, what are your FAVORITE overindulgences this time of year?


  1. Oh man. I need to eat nothing but that soup for the next five days, so I’m prepared for this weekend/Christmas. This past weekend was like marathon training for the Overindulgence Olympics.

    I do make some mean Snickerdoodles, though.

  2. My husband was just telling me he’s been craving a real hearty soup. I’ll be sure to show him this recipe. what do I indulge in this time of year? Wow. Everything. Starting with the frosted sugar cookies I baked for my kids yesterday and ending with a giant box o’ wine.

  3. That soup looks like just the detox my body needs. A new bakery opened up a block from my office and got me started on Salted Caramel Shortbread and I am hooked. I’m hooked like the worst junkie, twitchin’ and jonesin’ in the alley, looking for a fix. Man, I need another one of those right about now….

    But of course I’d much rather have lentils.

  4. Thanks for the inspiration. I think for lunch I’m going to have one of my favorite lentil dishes – Kusherie. It’s a blend of lentils and brown rice loaded with onions and garlic and tomato sauce. I make a large batch and eat on it for days.

    You’ve also inspired me to make a visit to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Indy (not far from where I live). I’ve never been there, but I’m eager to check out what fresh whole foods they offer. I think they are mostly locally grown.

    • There’s nothing like a farmer’s market, especially in spring and summer! Right now, many of my usual places are closed for a few months. Sometimes I wish I lived by a big city so I could get year round, local produce. Stop back by and tell me what’s local in Indy this time of year!

  5. My favourite indulgence is anything sweet! I don’t discriminate! 😉 And after all this over-eating (or unhealthy eating) so many days in a row, I do crave something warm, comforting and wholesome. Lentil stew or lentil anything is a good choice! I will be trying out this recipe after New Year’s for sure, if not earlier!

    Congrats on getting FP! 🙂

    • Thanks! This stew is definitely warm and wholesome–even the spices are warm and inviting. It’s my favorite way to make lentils. And since they are so healthy, I can eat cookies afterwards!

    • Thanks!

      I’ve made this with green lentils and it’s just as good, but the red lentils release more starch and thicken up the soup quite a bit.

      Good luck on your new eating habits! And I agree with you–food should be enjoyed! 🙂

  6. Ree

    This is a lovely post on a healthy indulgence. Red lentil soup or stew (or dal as Indians call it) is one of my favorite lentils. My version has white onions that are cooked slowly before they are added to the cooked lentils. I top it off with smoked hungarian paprika heated in oil. Yum! You see, I’m a newbie blogger, but I also had this recipe on my to do posts. I would love to get your feedback when I post it on my blog.

    • I was going to add smoked paprika to this dish! But I thought it had enough warmth already. I’d love to read your post. Just put the link here in the comments section and I’ll check it out!

  7. I usually never drink my calories but there’s something about this time of year that those drinks really get me. Whether it’s hot chocolate, egg nog, spiced cider, if it’s on the menu during the holiday season, I usually cave for a cup.

    • Hot chocolate! Ah! And spiced cider with cinnamon sticks. I can’t get enough. There’s just too many good things to eat and drink this time of year. That’s why these lentils made it to my weekly menu.

  8. This year I learned to make a persimmon pudding, but it’s more like a bread, sort of like brownies, but persimmon not chocolate. It’s so yummy! I eat healthy as a rule, so I don’t worry too much about a month of seasonal yummies, like, mmmm, fudge! Today I made a black-eye pea soup with celery, garlic, onions, kale, red potatoes, and tomatoes, used only salt and pepper. Came out really tasty. I hate to cook, so I keep it simple.

  9. Pingback: Christmas Came Early « Rachel's Table

      • School party today with gift wrapping in between (aaaaaah!!) followed by (guess what?) ANOTHER school party (uh, parties) tomorrow. I’m freaking out with merry-ness. I look so forward to playing with my new Christmas pressie (shhh…I’m not supposed to know) as I back-surf my favorite blogs unshowered in my PJ’s for three days straight. (Some beer might be in there too.) See you soon, Rachel. Y’all have a splendid Christmas! 🙂

      • Children had a whole ‘nother dimension to Christmas, huh? In mostly good ways, though!! …right???

        I hope your Christmas is filled with beer, unwashed hair, and the laughter of your little ones, Shannon!

    • It’s my new favorite way to make lentils! There’s something so warm about it–ginger, cinnamon and cumin are a great combination.

      And yes, I’m already planning on making a light soup for dinner because I know the weekend and beginning of next week are going to be filled with cookies and cheese!!

    • I’ve made this recipe with green lentils, too. I like it better with red (cooks up faster and is a bit more starchy) but the flavor with the green lentils was just as good. Thanks for stopping by!

    • I have a crockpot recipe with that includes chicken and sweet potatoes that I’ve been wanting to try. There’s nothing like coming home from work and dinner is already smelling wonderful.

      My nieces enjoy lentils, and I think kids would like the flavor of this stew.

  10. Cool blog! Just discovered you on Freshly Pressed. I am a baker and always make cookies or fudge or something for people at the holidays but like you, I’m struggling not to drown in sugar and fat, so this year — I made gluten and poultry-free dog biscuits! Almost everyone I know has dogs, so that works for me for a gift. And it keeps me from eating it!!! Almost…I tasted them. They were pretty good.

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  12. I have a similar recipe which I adore, but mine is soupier. I never thought about a thick stew like meal and will definitely try your recipe.
    After the excesses of the holidays I too went full swing into tasty, vegetarian meals. I am trying to blog about them, but they tend to get eaten before I have a chance to take pics. Today’s lunch? Creamy garbanzo, potato, and spinach soup. Creamy, yet chunky and full of goodness.

    • I think the red lentils, which are starchier than regular green lentils, give this a nice thickness. I’ve made this with green lentils and it’s just as delicious, but more soupy.

      Sometimes I wish I would STOP taking pictures of the things I cook. I never know when a meal is going to make it into the blog, so I pretty much document everything.

      Your soup sounds delish! Garbanzo beans are one of my favorite things. 🙂

  13. I just love soups! They are like a warm hug in winter… And if you are a food blogger is probably one of the few dishes that will keep warm while you spend time photographing them. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Serena! Ha! I know what you mean about photographing food. Sometimes I’m so relieved when I make a dish I’ve already shared on the blog–no pictures, now writing down the exact recipe as I go along. Just cooking!

      • Yes, I spent a lot of time photographing food as well…and usually my camera ends up completely covered by all sort of food… 🙂 I am quite messy 🙂 But the result is the important part! 🙂 …And yes, foodbloggers also love eating!! 🙂

  14. I’ve made this twice now and have loved it both times. My mouth starts watering as soon as I start frying the chile sauce. I use butter and olive oil, and fry the pants off the spices before adding any liquid. I also add an extra can (15oz.) of stewed tomatoes along with the diced tomatoes. Then I serve it with fresh chopped cilantro. But you really can do no wrong with the basic recipe as the spice mix is so good! Who would have thought lentils could taste like heaven?

    • I’m used to just cooking lentils in the traditional way with some bay leaf and carrots and onions, but this spice combination is a winner! I agree–who knew lentils could taste this good! I’m so pleased you are enjoying this recipe. Thanks for letting me know!

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