Ginger Sweet Potato Coconut Milk Stew with Lentils & Kale

Created by Laura Wright
4.99 from 552 votes

Ginger sweet potato and coconut milk stew is super flavourful, beautiful, and extra hearty with kale and lentils. Quick vegan dinner recipe!

Up close shot of a bowl of sweet potato and coconut milk stew with a few leaves of cilantro on top. The stew is bright orange and creamy
An overhead shot of ingredients used in a vegan soup recipe, all placed on a wooden cutting board.
An up close, overhead shot of chopped sweet potatoes on a cutting board.

We’re in that last stretch of Winter where I just want it to be OVER. The sight of a fresh snowfall is, yes, beautiful (like this coconut milk stew!). But I also know that we’re still in for at least another 6 weeks of cold and grey. Embracing the coziness is helpful and cooking new and exciting things is great, but ultimately I just keep imagining myself on a beach somewhere with a blended drink. The thought alone is helpful!

As far as I know, I won’t be getting to that beach anytime soon, so I’m cooking sunshine-y things in my little kitchen instead. This creamy white bean soup with kale, rosemary & lemon is a great example–bright and hearty at the same time.

For a quicker, still satiating and flavourful lentil soup with greens, I recommend checking out my Lemony Red Lentil Soup. Just like this recipe, it’s loaded with spices and finished with zingy citrus.

This sweet potato and coconut milk stew is a glowing shade of orange with vibrant pops of green from kale and cilantro. We use lots of chili and ginger in this stew, along with a bunch of other spices. The flavour profile, spice combination, and recipe itself is inspired by Indian cuisine as well as Thai coconut milk-based curries. You get sweetness, spice, earthy vibes, creaminess, texture from the lentils, and a squeeze of lime rounds everything out.


If you count common spices as one component, this sweet potato coconut milk stew hits at around 10 ingredients. It’s very simple to make, definitely hearty, and accommodating for different dietary sensitivities. If a stew could have it all, this would be IT.

For my taste, it has just the right amount of richness from coconut milk–a real flavour bomb with a deep health glow. Just the kinda thing I’m after lately. I love making it with homemade vegetable stock, but it’s not necessary.

An up close, overhead shot of coconut milk being poured into a pot of soup with lentils and spices.
An overhead shot of a white dutch oven filled with a sweet potato coconut milk stew that also features lentils, kale, and chopped cilantro.
An overhead shot of 2 bowls of sweet potato and coconut milk stew with a few leaves of cilantro on top. The stew is bright orange and creamy

Ginger Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Stew with Lentils and Kale

Ginger sweet potato and coconut milk stew is super flavourful, beautiful, and extra hearty with kale and lentils. Quick vegan dinner recipe!
4.99 from 552 votes
An overhead shot of a sweet potato and coconut milk stew in a bowl. The stew features brown lentils and kale and is topped with cilantro. A folded flatbread is tucked into one corner of the stew.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • ½-1 teaspoon dried chili flakes (I use Diaspora Co's ground Guntur Sannam Chillies)
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ lbs (690 grams) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup brown lentils, picked over
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 13.5 oz (400 ml) can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 small bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped (about 4 cups chopped kale)
  • To garnish: chopped cilantro, extra chili flakes, lime wedges, nigella seeds

Notes

  • Coconut milk is naturally sweet and so are sweet potatoes (obviously). I like to go in with a lot of dried chili to balance things out, but of course add as much as you feel comfortable with.
  • Chard or mustard greens would also be delicious in place of the kale.
  • You already know: I always recommend making your own vegetable stock. My go-to method here!

Instructions

  • Heat a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the coconut oil to the pot and let it melt. Add the onions to the pot and stir. Saute the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent and quite soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chili flakes, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Saute spices until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic to the pot and cook for another minute. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Add the sweet potatoes to the pot and stir to coat in the spices. Add the lentils to the pot and stir once more. Season everything liberally with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable stock and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Place the lid on top of the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Once the stew is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and set the lid slightly askew on top of the pot so that there’s a couple inches available for steam to escape. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are almost falling apart and the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. The liquid should also be reduced by almost a third.
  • Add the coconut milk and kale to the pot and stir. Place the lid on top and continue to simmer the stew until the kale is wilted and bright green, about 3-4 minutes. Season the sweet potato and coconut milk stew again with salt and pepper. Bring the stew back up to a strong simmer and check for seasoning. Adjust with more salt, pepper, chili etc. if necessary.
  • Serve the sweet potato and coconut milk stew hot with chopped cilantro, extra chili flakes, lime wedges, and Nigella seeds (if using).
Up close shot of a bowl of sweet potato and coconut milk stew with a few leaves of cilantro on top. The stew is bright orange and creamy

19/02/2020 (Last Updated 09/08/2023)
Posted in: autumn, coconut milk, creamy, earthy, gluten free, kale, lentils, main course, nut free, refined sugar-free, salty, soup, sour, spicy, spring, summer, sweet potatoes, vegan, winter

476 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Frances

    5 stars
    I want to make this but am off Sweet Potatoes for awhile. Can you substitute with Winter Squash?

    • Laura

      Hi Frances,
      Any diced winter squash will work great here.
      -L

  • Roxie

    5 stars
    Wow! this was delicious. made it exactly as written with only one substitution-used box choy instead of kale. perfect for a cold, winter day.

  • Jen

    5 stars
    I’m so pleased with this recipe. It’s a hearty, flavorful soup that I’ll add to my regular rotation, for sure. I didn’t have any cilantro, but I’ll be sure to add it next time. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!

  • polina

    5 stars
    Super delicious! Easy, and I mean really easy, spicy. One can use a lot of imagination to adjust the recipe for herself, awesome. Awesome :) 

  • Greta

    5 stars
    Love it!!!

  • Ann Davis-Rowe

    5 stars
    Loved this for meal prep! Must do again to share with my carnivorous husband.

  • Nate

    5 stars
    For how easy this soup is to make, it has an amazing flavor! The extra chili flakes added at the end make a big difference, imo. This soup is also very easy to double and freeze. Highly recommend anyone try this. :) 

  • Stacy

    5 stars
    Wonderful recipe!! Turned out so delicious. Thank you!

  • Katie K

    This was amazing!!!! I did 1 tsp of red Chili flakes and even for me who is a spice-a-holic it was pretty spicy but the flavors were still to die for!!!!

  • Lesli

    5 stars
    I made this tonight after seeing your Instagram post yesterday…it was fantastic! This will definitely become a winter staple meal. I made some basmati rice which I stirred in upon serving. A perfect dinner for a cold evening!

  • Onician Wood

    Do you have any alternatives for the coconut & coconut milk? I’m allergic to coconut. Thanks!

    • Laura

      Hi there!

      The coconut does provide a lot of our flavour here, but you could definitely use olive oil for the sautéing part. To replace the coconut milk, I would look to something rich like an unsweetened cashew milk or light cream if you consume dairy.

      -L

  • Christiana Gray

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing! I really loved all the flavors, and it was perfect for a chilly day where I wasn’t feeling 100%. The only substitutes I did were red pepper flakes instead of chili pepper flakes, and green lentils instead of brown lentils. It has so many veggies, it definitely perked me up. Thank you for the recipe!

  • The Student-turned-Doctor @ Food for Dissertating

    5 stars
    This was amazing! I was so sad when the leftovers were gone. I didn’t have quite as much coconut milk on hand as was in the recipe, but I just made it with a bit less coconut milk and still loved it. I had it with some steamed rice and was SO SATISFIED. Thanks for the pretty, delicious recipe!

  • Abi

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe! I found that it was a bit too liquidy by the end, even after reducing, therefore I would recommend either using a bit less stock OR blending half of it (so you still have some whole sweet potato and lentils). I blended half and it was delicoius!

  • Brandon Elder

    This soup is amazing! To add another layer complexity and texture, add some sesame oil toward the end, and garnish with sesame seeds. Also, consider a swirls of cashew crema! 
    Thanks, your soups are ridiculously good.

  • Marti Lee

    5 stars
    Sooooo good!!

  • Nick

    What Is the calorie count per serving?

    • Laura

      Hi Nick,
      I don’t provide calorie counts on my recipes. Thankfully, there are lots of free and easy to use nutrition calculators available online, such as My Fitness Pal.
      -L

  • Jenelle

    5 stars
    This is one of our go to’s in the fall and winter. Simple ingredients and amazing flavors! Makes your house smell amazing too. Laura can do no wrong! 

  • marcie

    5 stars
    Made this stew a couple of days ago. It was delicious. I plan to make it again soon

  • Sarah

    5 stars
    Absolutely LOVE this recipe! So easy, creamy, comforting and flavorful. Perfect for fall! :)

  • Elizabeth

    5 stars
    Smashing success with this one tonight! Subbed butternut squash and red lentils and immersion blended a little to cream it all up a bit. Added peas, served with rice and naan. Husband was worshipping me and 6-yr-old asked for seconds! Thank you once again, Laura!

  • Rachel mueller

    Hi, is this 
    Half cup dry lentils? Do they need to be soaked.overnight? Or am I just adding half cup of dry lentils to recipe?

    • Laura

      Hi Rachel,
      You are adding dry lentils to the recipe. They cook as the stew simmers. You are welcome to soak them overnight to speed up this process a bit, although the sweet potatoes also take a bit of time.
      -L

  • Laure Bouret

    Hello, this looks amazing ! Is there an instant pot recipe available ? 

  • Amy serlin

    5 stars
    I made this tonight but tweaked a bit like so many others. Substituted delicata squash for sweet potatoes as well as spinach for kale. Doubled the spices as a personal preference for spice and used light coconut milk to save calories. I finished it with a good squeeze of fresh lime and a handful of fresh cilantro.  Excellent and super easy -thinking about adding some tofu next time to add more protein. 

  • M

    5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe. Mine turned out yummy but it doesn’t look as aesthetically appealing as yours ( it’s more yellow as opposed to red). How do you give it that colour. 

  • Amanda

    Would butternut squash be a good substitute for sweet potatoes? And if so do you think it would cook similarly or should I roast first then add.

    • Laura

      Hi Amanda,
      Butternut squash would be great in this stew. It might actually cook faster than sweet potatoes.
      -L

  • Wendy

    5 stars
    Just…wow. Delicious dish. Thank you!

  • Anne

    5 stars
    An immediate favorite – quick, delicious, healthy

  • Gemma

    5 stars
    So easy to make and SO, SO delicious! This soup has become a staple for me & feels so healthy but still yummy and indulgent 

  • Maureen Fitzpatrick-Rofe

    5 stars
    Yum

  • Sue C

    5 stars
    I made this yesterday and we really enjoyed it.  I had no kale but some bok choy in the freezer.  Also, leftover lentils in the freezer. So, at the end I added the thawed  lentils and bok choy.  I liked adding the cilantro for a counter point to the sweet potatoes.  Definitely an addition to our rotation. Thank you.

  • Maryellen

    Can I make this three days ahead of time and store in refrigerator?

    • Laura

      Hi Maryellen!

      You can make this 3 days ahead of time. I would recommend leaving out the kale and cilantro garnish though. Just add the kale when you reheat the stew and simmer until it’s bright green and tender. Reserve the cilantro for garnishing when you’re ready to serve.
      -L

  • Rebecca Fox

    This has become one of my favourite recipes to make. It is absolutely delicious!! It also freezes really well. 

  • Lauren

    5 stars
    I sent this to my boyfriend to make for dinner. He claimed it as the best thing he’s ever made. Great recipe! It was delicious

  • roe

    5 stars
    this stew is literally stupendous. I’m a potato girl, sweet potato is just not my thing, never has been but my husband asked if I could make use of the sweet potatoes that keep persisting in our spring CSA boxes for dinner. I made this tonight. perfection. comforting, balanced, interesting, snd not too sweet — more gingery actually. Standing ovation from down here in Louisiana!

  • Carly

    5 stars
    Laura, this was incredible!! So full of flavor, filling and easy to make. We all loved it! You’re a star, thank you!!

  • Dani

    5 stars
    This is *amazing* for real. Just made it for lunch and damn near ate the entire thing.

  • Nicole Bazile

    5 stars
    Best soup I have ever had…..hands down

  • Chantal

    OMGAWD this was GOOD. 

  • Emma

    5 stars
    This was so so delicious! I kept my soup vegan and added shredded chicken for my partner. Thank you for sharing this recipe :))))

  • Veronica Bauer

    I made this last night. The flavors of this dish absolutely blew me away! One of the best dishes I have made in awhile! I swapped brown lentils for red lentils, used onion powder instead of onion & used vegan ghee instead of coconut oil. The result was truly sooo satisfying. Thank you so much for the marvelous recipe. 

  • Anya

    5 stars
    I adore this recipe!! This curry is sooo good– the flavors are incredible (love the spice), it’s warm and comforting, super healthy, and also pretty easy to make. Definitely a keeper :)

  • Heike

    5 stars
    Hey Laura, 
    I loved this meal so much. Accidentally I bought all the ingredients at the farmers market. I had to use black lentils, after I added the kale, the color turned green (pantry refill will be done). We only have a small portion left. I will add this recipe  to my staples.

  • Linda

    Did anyone break down the nutritional value?  Sounds delicious.

  • Alidon

    5 stars
    This was delicious! Thank you.

  • Helene

    5 stars
    Delicious! As a main course I would double the amount of lentils. 

  • Rachelle

    Incredible mixture of tastes!  Love it!

  • Casey

    5 stars
    I have made this many times for my family of 10 and it’s always been a hit!! It’s the type of food that is earthy, wholesome and warms your soul.  I doubled the recipe and use a whole pack (500 g) of Trade Joe’s precooked steamed lentils instead of dried lentils.  Because I use cooked lentils, I reduced the amount of vegetable stock to 4-5 cups — depending on the consistency and richness you want.  I also omitted the chili flakes so that it’s not spicy for kiddos.  Thanks so much for this lovely recipe!!

  • Gina

    Wow – SO much better than i had expected. I never follow recipes and typically just use them as a guideline for flavor profiles but this one is truly a winner – delicious, great mouth feel, filling but light. I increased the amount of lentils just to make it more stew like and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you for putting this out there :) 

  • Beau

    4 stars
    This is a good recipe. The only reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is because it calls for waaaaaaaay too much ginger! 2 inch piece of ginger renders the soup a ginger soup. It’s pretty much all you can taste. Totally dominates all other flavors. Proportions matter when cooking. If I make it again I would use one half to one third of the amount of ginger called for here.

    Also 1/2 teaspoon of cumin is not nearly enough for soup of this size. It needs a teaspoon at least. One would normally see 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric for one teaspoon of cumin because turmeric can overpower with an unpleasant flavor. Again, proportions matter. I would do 1/4 teaspoon turmeric.

    • Lily

      5 stars
      Completely disagree. The proportion was perfect. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric does not begin to overpower a big pot of soup. Ginger was just right too.