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Start a Fresh New Year with Delicious Vegan Food—Even if You’re an Omnivore!

Have you been eating a lot of heavy foods throughout the holidays? It’s no surprise if you’ve been cooking traditional roasted meats, cheesy comfort foods, and artisanal breads for your family. Oh, and we haven’t even gotten to all those sugary cookies you ate while making batches of baked goods for colleagues, teachers, and friends! Even vegans and vegetarians may suffer after a long season of overeating favorite comfort foods.

If you’re feeling lethargic or bloated after New Year’s Eve, it’s no wonder! Your body is likely signaling it’s ready for a break. May I suggest that you make a fresh start on New Year’s Day with a lighter, yet totally satisfying, dish for your family—Hearty Lentil Stew.

I decided to create this recipe specifically for the Instant Pot since the Instant Pot has become increasingly popular (and since my friend Marie put one under the Christmas tree for herself!) However, if you don’t own one, I’ll give directions for how to make this dish in a standard pot on your stove top.

You’ll notice that I mention two types of oil. I suggest starting the dish with avocado oil because it tolerates high heat and has a neutral taste. I recommend a drizzle of olive oil at the end to give the dish an Italian accent.

Enjoy this Hearty Lentil Stew throughout the winter and early spring. If you prefer soup to stew or want to stretch the recipe, add extra fresh stock or water. If you like to January 1st with black-eyed peas, try one of these easy recipes. For a gourmet meal to wow your new year’s guests, try the Stuffed Chard with Black-Eyed Pea Pate on page 150 of Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook.

Wishing you a blessed year ahead, filled with new adventures in cooking and many delightful flavors that support your body, mind, and spirit!

PS If you have struggled during the pandemic or for many years with indigestion, chronic pain, skin problems, excess weight, or other stubborn health issues, we invite you to join our Spring 21-Day Delicious Detox Challenge. During this 21-day experience, including four 1-hour educational zoom events, you will be joining a group of people who support each other for a dietary reboot while having some great discussions and laughter.

 

 

 

 

 

Print

Lentil Stew or Soup
for the Instant Pot
or Stove Top

Preparation Time: About 1 hour for cooks familiar with the Instant Pot; 45 minute to 1 hour stove top
Serves 4 to 6

 Although many cooks like to prep all their ingredients prior to cooking, you will save time by washing and chopping in stages as described in the directions. There are blocks of time when you are unable to open the Instant Pot and you can be prepping other food. If you have a food processor, this is a good occasion to bring it out!

1 medium onion
2 tablespoons avocado or coconut oil
1 large stalk celery
3 extra-large carrots
1 small Yukon Gold potato (optional)
1 medium sweet potato (about 1 cup chopped)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
2 cups dry lentils
4 large red Swiss chard leaves with stems
or kale, or 2 cups baby spinach
2 large garlic cloves
or 2 to 3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 cups Easy Vegetable Soup Stock
1 large fresh bay leaf
1 handful Italian parsley
2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh lime or lemon juice
1½ teaspoons mineral salt, or more, to taste
dash of black pepper
About 2 teaspoons olive oil

Cook’s Tip: Loose carrots sold at Whole Foods are often more than 10 inches long! You may want to use 4 or 5 smaller carrots. If you are not making fresh stock, use additional 2 cups of water when stock is indicated along with ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric. You can certainly add additional vegetables such as fennel, green beans, peas, or zucchini if you prefer an even heartier stew.

For the Instant Pot (5- to 6-quart size)

1. Chop the onion. Press Sauté, set for 10 minutes. Add oil to the pan followed by the chopped onion. It takes a few minutes for the Instant Pot to heat, and that extra time is perfect for cooking onion. Stir occasionally so the pieces of onion cook evenly. Turn off the sauté function when this is complete.

2. While the onion cooks, wash and slice the celery and carrots. Peel the potatoes, if you wish, and dice them into ¼ inch cubes. Rinse and strain the lentils.

3. When the onion is uniformly golden and starting to brown, add the cumin and coriander (plus turmeric, if not using stock in direction number 4), and stir. Add 4 cups of water along with the lentils and the chopped celery, carrots, and potatoes. Reseal the cooker and press Pressure Cook (manual); set on high pressure for 8 minutes with the Keep Warm setting off. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes; then manually release the pressure so you can reopen the pot.

4. While the lentils and veggies are cooking, wash the greens and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Slice the red chard stems like celery. Peel and chop/or press the garlic (or grate the ginger) to ready it for use. Once you are able to open the Instant Pot, do so and add the greens, chard stems, and garlic along with vegetable stock (or extra water) and the bay leaf. Reseal the pot. Press Pressure Cook (manual); set on low pressure for 15 minutes with the Keep Warm setting off (unless you are not planning to serve for more than an hour). Manually release the pressure when you’re ready to serve.

5. Mince the parsley. Upon opening the pot, add the lime juice and finish the stew/soup with salt and pepper, to taste. (If you use a boxed stock, you may want to use much less salt.) To serve this dish as a thicker stew, use an immersion blender and briefly process ¼ to ⅓ of the ingredients. If you want a thinner soup, add more stock or water now. Add minced parsley and a drizzle of olive oil to each bowl. Serve over rice or quinoa, if you wish.

For the Stove Top

1. Rinse and strain the lentils. Place the lentils in a 4- or 6-quart pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil; then lower the heat to medium low, add the bay leaf, cover the pot, and simmer for at least 40 minutes.

2. Chop the onion. Heat a medium-sized sauté pan with the 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chopped onion. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir occasionally so the onion cooks evenly. When the onion is uniformly golden and caramelized but not burned, add the cumin and coriander (plus turmeric, if not using stock in direction number 4), and stir. Turn off the heat, set aside, and add the spiced onion to the soup pot at the end. (Note for a one-pot meal: You could start the recipe with oil and chopped onion in the soup pot and sauté the onion for 10 to 15 minutes before adding the lentils and water. However, you will save 15 minutes by cooking the onion and spices in a separate pan.)

3. Wash and slice the celery and carrots. Peel the potatoes, if you wish, and dice it into ¼ inch cubes. Wash the greens and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Slice the red chard’s stems like celery. Peel and chop/or press the garlic (or grate the ginger) to ready it for use.

4. Once all the vegetables are chopped, add all but the greens to the lentils in the soup pot, but include the chard stems. After the lentils have cooked a total of 30 minutes, add the greens along with vegetable stock (or extra water and turmeric). Stir and cover the pot another 15 minutes, or until all of the vegetables and lentils are completely tender.

5. While the stew is cooking, mince the parsley. Once all the ingredients are tender, stir in the spiced onion you’ve set aside, add the lime juice, and finish the stew/soup with salt and pepper, to taste. (If you use a boxed stock, you may want to use less salt.) To serve this dish as a thicker stew, use an immersion blender and briefly process ¼ to ⅓ of the ingredients. If you want a thinner soup, add more stock or water now. Add the minced parsley and a drizzle of olive oil to each bowl. Serve over rice or quinoa, if you wish.

 

It’s best to omit the white potato, which is in the nightshade family, if you have joint pain.

Use lime instead of lemon. Use fresh ginger instead of garlic or use half of each.

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