Coconut Red Lentil Stew with Kale

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Coconut Red Lentil Stew with Kale
“I thought we’d try something healthy for dinner tonight.” These are not the words you want to hear from your camping companion – especially after a long, active day of burning calories. For me, the word healthy conjures up memories of flavorless grain bowls and bitter piles of kale. The food of masochists. So when Megan told me our meal would contain both lentils and kale, I immediately started taking mental account of how many Cliff bars we had left. I figured I would need at least two or three to properly supplement.

However, I’m happy to say that not a single Cliff bar was needed because this meal is legit. Not only is it Hungry Camper™ approved, but it also uses just one pot (which is always a good sign). The recipe really brings out the best in both the lentils and the kale. Red lentils break down when cooked and become more of a creamy porridge and the kale looses nearly all of its bitterness when simmered. But the real stars of the meal aren’t the main ingredients. It’s the coconut milk, coriander, and cumin that gives this stew such a full and satisfying flavor profile. We prepared a lot for just the two of us, but had no problem finishing it. If we had had a loaf of crusty bread on hand, the pot would have been cleaned and ready to go by the time we got done with it.
Coconut Red Lentil Stew with Kale
Coconut Red Lentil Stew with Kale
Red lentils and tomatoes in a pot
Coconut Red Lentil Stew with Kale
Coconut Red Lentil Stew with Kale

Coconut red lentil stew in a camping bowl

Coconut Red Lentil Stew with Kale

Protein-rich red lentils, hearty kale, and flavorful coconut milk are simmered together to make this quick and easy red lentil stew.
Author: Fresh Off The Grid
4.8 from 15 ratings
Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
2 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 14 oz can broth, or bouillon equivalent
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk powder
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped kale


  • Over medium heat, saute shallot in olive oil until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic, cumin, coriander, and cayenne and saute 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juices, broth, coconut milk powder, red lentils, and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Add the kale. Cook until the lentils begin to break apart and become creamy, about 20 minutes. Season to taste, and serve immediately. This would be great topped with some chopped cilantro or a squeeze of lime!


Substitution: If using canned coconut milk, it's better to cook the red lentils first, then add the coconut milk. The high-fat content of the canned coconut milk seems to inhibit the red lentils from properly hydrating.  

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 574kcal

*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator

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Coconut red lentil stew in a camping bowl

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  1. Jen Medina says:

    I just made this for lunch & I love it. I was looking for recipes that I could send to my daughter who is away in College. This will be easy for her to make and also delicious & healthy. Thanks so much for sharing this 🙂

    1. Megan @ Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Thanks, Jen! Your comment made me think about how similar camp cooking is to college cooking; I hope your daughter enjoys it as well!

  2. casio barnes says:

    If you simply cannot find coconut milk powder (and are too impatient to wait for it to ship online!) do you know the ratio to sub for canned coconut milk?
    LOVE the site by the way! Beautiful photos 🙂

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Thanks, Casio! You know, I haven’t made this with canned coconut, but I imagine that 1/4-1/2 cup would work. If using full fat, I’d err on the 1/4 cup side. Sorry I don’t have a precise answer for you. If you try it, let me know what ended up working for you!

  3. I made this at home, not camping, but still loved it! Would definitely make while camping as well. Love the site!

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      So glad to hear you enjoyed it, Lisa! Thank you 🙂

  4. Annette Robertson says:

    This is a very good recipe! Thank you so much! Loved it5 stars

  5. I noticed that the recipe calls for coconut milk but the photo of ingredients shows coconut cream and since they are different (one is creamier), which one should we be using in the recipe? I’m excited to try this on our camping adventure next week.

  6. I love this 🙂 I’ve been making it weekly for the past month — camping and not!5 stars

  7. Andrea Sales says:

    Does this recipe freeze well? It looks great!

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      I haven’t tried freezing it, but I imagine it would. Would love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

  8. We made this using 1/4 cup of canned coconut milk – it was great! Anxious to try again now that I have some coriander – bet that will be a great addition.5 stars

    1. Thanks, Deb. I am making it this weekend for the first time and couldn’t get the powdered coconut milk so I appreciate knowing that the 1/4 coconut milk worked. Yay I have coriander so I expect it will be nice and spicy – but not too spicy. I’ll being a lime for garnish.

  9. Just made this today! Absolutely divine! Made a few mods:
    -didn’t have coconut milk powder so used desiccated coconut
    -Swapped corriander for oregano and nutmug
    -used spinach instead of Kale

    Stew is currently doing its thing in the dehydrator. I will be bringing it along with me when travelling the nullabor at the end of the year.

    Cheers for the good recipe!

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Glad to hear to liked it! We’ve never dehydrated this before (especially with those mods), but we’d love to hear how it turns out! Enjoy exploring the Nullarbor (we had to look up where that was) but that coastline looks incredible. ????

  10. I have not been able to find the coconut powder anywhere in town. I’m car camping THIS weekend so i have refrigeration and bought liquid coconut milk. Can I just use less broth to accommodate the extra liquid from the coconut milk? If I love the recipe as much as I like your cheesy asparagus one, then I’ll get the powdered one at Amazon. Trader Joes didn’t have it and

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      You can use a can of coconut milk, instead of powdered coconut. However, a 14 oz can of coconut milk is more then you need. So back off the broth a little bit and back off the can of canned coconut milk by half. We haven’t worked out the exact ratios of making this recipe with canned coconut milk but it should work out with a little finessing.

  11. It was so tasty! I’m not sure if I should’ve soaked the lentils ahead of time because cooking time was a lot longer and I had to keep adding water. I used Coconut milk and it was so good! My not vegetarian family loved it!5 stars

  12. This recipe is a standout! My new favorite way to make lentils! Definitely top w/ the lime and cilantro- brightens it. Thank you!5 stars

  13. I found this recipe a few months ago and have made it several times since! It’s so good, easy to make, and packed with nutrients. I’ve made it for camping but also just as part of a weekly meal prep.5 stars

  14. Just discovered this recipe (it’s 6 years old!) a few months ago and it’s been in my regular rotation at home ever since. I follow the recipe verbatim, except I add a tbsp of fresh grated ginger with the lentils and 1/4 cup canned coconut milk after 20 mins of simmering. The pop of flavor and creamy consistency are divine! Just made it again and used a slice of crusty bread to mop up the juices in the bowl. Thank you!!!5 stars

  15. This is hands-down my favorite red lentil dish of all time. I make it in all seasons, exactly as written, when I want a bowl of hearty but healthy comfort. I’ve used both the coconut powder and 1/4 cup canned coconut milk (my preference), and once added a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger when I wanted to brighten the flavor (that was delicious too). Every time I make the recipe it tastes a touch salty and heavily seasoned until I add the coconut milk (last ingredient), which is the finishing touch that mellows the flavor, makes the lentils extra creamy and brings it all together. I’m eating a bowl now with a piece of crusty bread and green salad- so good and I’m not even camping!5 stars

  16. Loved this recipe. It made two large satisfying portions. I’ll definitely be making this again. It’s my second recipe from this blog and both were a total hit. Can’t wait to try more.

  17. I really wanted to love this soup but it was just ok. The red lentils were mushy but the flavor was pretty good. I might try adding more lentils next time.2 stars

    1. Fresh Off The Grid says:

      I’m sorry to hear that the texture wasn’t to your liking! Red lentils by nature do get mushy when they are cooked. Since you enjoyed the flavor, you could try substituting with brown lentils since they retain their structure better when cooked.