Red Lentil and Millet Stew with Lemon

Thick Red Lentil Stew

As a vegan, I am often asked for examples of staples in my diet. In an effort to eat healthier, they want to know what kind of dishes are regularly prepared in my household. So today I figured I’d share a one-pot wonder that is frequently in our rotation. In fact, it’s so frequent that it often makes a once-a-week appearance at dinner and then shows up as leftovers in my lunch the next day.

Red Lentil and Millet Stew with Lemon

This Red Lentil Stew has so much going for it. Aside from it being incredibly tasty (even kids love this one!), it’s also a nutrient powerhouse. The lentils and millet pack a ton of protein in this dish, and together they actually make a complete protein, offering all of the essential amino acids humans need. There are some other interesting dances going on between foods in this dish. Let me explain. Iron is more easily absorbed by your body when consumed with vitamin C. Lentils are loaded with iron, while lemons and onion are loaded with vitamin C. So not only do they taste incredibly good together, but by joining forces, they make your body perform better. It’s like we evolved to want to eat lentil and millet stew.

Red Lentil and Millet Soup with Lemon

I could go on about all of the amazing nutrients in lentils (phosophorus, copper, folate, fiber, thiamin, B6, manganese, zinc, magnesium, and the already-mentioned protein and iron) and millet (thiamin, niacin, manganese, phosophorus, more protein, fiber, and magnesium) but I won’t. I’ll stop here and get on with the recipe! 😛

Chopped Fresh Veggies

You first need to chop all of your veggies and then saute them in olive oil over medium-high heat until softened. Meanwhile, rinse your lentils and millet in a fine sieve under cold water. Pour the lentils into the veggie pot, add your water, and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes and then add the fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt. It’s as easy as that!

Red Lentil and Millet Stew with Lemon

This recipe provides six healthy servings


  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 7 cups water (plus more if needed to thin it a bit)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt (to taste)

Saute: Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large (~6 quart) saucepan. When the oil is heated, add the onion and celery. Cook for 10 minutes until softened. Add the carrots and garlic, and cook for another 7 minutes.

Measure and Rinse: While the veggie are cooking, measure the millet and lentils then rinse them under cold water in a fine sieve. After the veggies are done, add the lentils and millet to the pot along with the 7 cups of water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil, stirring once or twice. Once it’s reached a boil, stir again, turn down the heat so that it maintains a simmer, and cover slightly with a lid. Let it simmer for 20-25 minutes and stir a couple times during cooking.

Finishing Touches: After it’s finished cooking, add the lemon juice and salt. In my experience, I’ve added at least 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, if not more. The salt really helps to bring out the lemon flavor and marry the other flavors in the dish very well.

Note: This makes a very thick stew and if you want it more soup-like add another cup (or more) of water at the end until it reaches the consistency you desire.

Red Lentil and Millet Soup with Lemon

18 Responses to Red Lentil and Millet Stew with Lemon

  1. Elisa's Spot says:

    I’m cooking it now and awaiting the first boil. I had to use a greenish-brown looking lentil. I used to have red, but I followed another recipe with them in it and the lentils all came apart! (oops!)
    I hope that doesn’t affect taste or color…I’ll let you know!

    • Elisa's Spot says:

      MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, batch done and into tummy by 9:24 in the morning! This makes a huge amount too, if I food cost it better I think it’s around .50 a portion! It’s probably prettier using the red, I’ll get some for next time!

      • Christina says:

        Hahaha! You are productive in the morning, Elisa!! I am very impressed!

        Also—phew! I’m so glad that it still tasted good, despite using green lentils instead! I’m not sure that I’ve ever paired green/brown lentils with lemon before so I can’t speak to how they taste together. I do know that red lentils and lemon are a match made in heaven, but now I’m going to need to try your version.

        You’re right, it does make a lot for so little money! Thanks for estimating the cost per portion. This should be the new ramen for college students—so much healthier! I’m going to note how many this serves in the recipe to give people a heads-up. This made two lunches for me and Alex, and when lunch can cost $10 each, I realize that we’re saving $38 by eating this. Woot!

  2. Alcina says:

    Your recipes are marvelous and way of writing is interesting as i cannot just leave in between whatever i started reading over here 🙂
    And equally nice shots that accompanied..

  3. Dana says:

    This stew recipe bears an uncanny resemblance to one of my own vegan staples:
    I add a bit of tomato, rosemary, and spinach or kale to mine, but it’s very similar otherwise. SO YUMMY! I love lentils.

  4. Kathy says:

    OK, will definitely try this one, Christina. I love red lentils because they’re so mushy and melt in the mouth. Millet has not always been our favorite grain, but I suspect in this recipe it pairs perfectly. Will venture into the pantry to see if these two staples are at-the-ready. It already feels like it will soothe the deepest organs.

    • Christina says:

      Really? You’re not a fan of millet? I find this fascinating because I’ve always thought the flavor is so mild that it would be appealing to most people—kind of like rice. Given that, I am curious to hear how you like it in this dish. And I totally agree with you about how red lentils just melt in your mouth! So good! 🙂

      • Kathy says:

        I guess it’s the texture which has challenged. It seems a little grainy…to someone who is head-over-heels in love with brown rice & quinoa. However, I do love millet with friend green onions and umeboshi plum vinegar, yum.

      • Christina says:

        Ah, interesting about the texture. In this dish it pretty much becomes mush along with the red lentils so I don’t even notice it, but then again, I like the texture to begin with so maybe that’s why I don’t really pick it out.
        Oooh, do tell me how you make the millet, fried green onion and umeboshi vinegar dish! That sounds so good!

      • Kathy says:

        Hi Christina! OK, I found the recipe. It comes via Amy Carr ( I know your sister knows her).

        Braised Millet with Umeboshi and Lemon

        1-2 T. Sesame oil
        1/4 c. sliced green onions
        2 c. cooked millet
        2 T umeboshi vinegar
        2 T lemon juice
        2 T water

        Heat oil, saute onions for 7 minutes or until slightly browned. In separate bowl mix vinegar, lemon juice and water. Pour over cooked millet.

        (Kathy’s note: the umeboshi vinegar makes it nice & salty. Very simple, but satisfying.)

      • Christina says:

        Thanks so much, Kathy! I will definitely have to try this sometime! And I do recall Naomi mentioning Amy Carr before—such a small world!

  5. Robin says:

    This reminds me of a kitchari without all the spices. I was going to make kitchari today, but you have just given me the excuse I need to use the red lentils and millet I have in the pantry. I’ve been pondering what to do with them (not that I don’t know what I could do with them, but I couldn’t make up my mind), and this is perfect as it allows me to use both. Thank you! 🙂

    • Christina says:

      Thanks for your comment, Robin! I had never actually heard of kitchari before so you taught me something new! You’re right, this is similar to kitchari in that it’s a legume/grain combination, but lemony instead of spicy. I hope it turned out well 🙂

  6. ebloporto says:

    I love the simplicity of this recipe! I am not a fan of soup or stew recipes that always require prepared broth. Let the ingredients speak for themselves!

    • Christina says:

      I totally agree! In this case, there is so much flavor from the veggies, lentils, and lemon that there is no need for additional flavorings or broths.

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