Ginger Sweet Potato Coconut Milk Stew with Lentils & Kale

Created by Laura Wright
4.99 from 556 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 556 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

481 comments

4.99 from 556 votes (374 ratings without comment)

Recipe Rating




  • Denise

    Can you substitute green or red lentils for the brown lentils?

    • Laura Wright

      Green would be a better substitute in this recipe since they will hold their shape better!
      -L

  • Pamela Penman

    I am looking forward to trying this. I wanted you to know that your recipe and photos has been plagiarized on the Facebook page Plant Based and Vegan recipes by the website yummy recipes.us.

  • Stacey

    5 stars
    I am in love with the soup! It’s easy to make, full to nutritious, easy to find ingredients, and so delicious. It’s on regular rotation in my house it’s so good. Thanks for such an incredible recipe.

  • Diana

    Is there nutritional info on this recipe ? Husband is type 1 and needs to know carb count. Thanks.

  • shannon

    5 stars
    What a wonderful addition to my vegan repertoire!! I didn’t add the entire can of coconut milk and added a squeeze of lemon as someone else had mentioned. LOVE it!! Thank you

  • Layla

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe as written! It’s amazing flavors and the spice ratios were spot on. I made it once as is and it was stellar. The I made it again and added 1 teaspoon of curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala just to try and it honestly didn’t need it. And I used Swiss chard. But mine came out looking brown each time and not that pretty vibrant color but that’s ok.

  • Shannon

    5 stars
    This was sooooo good I cannot stop thinking about it. 2 of us are the whole thing.
    We left out the lentils, as they don’t agree with my partner.
    Oh and I squeezed some fresh lemon juice into each bowl to finish it. Offset the spice beautifully and added a nice bright flavour level!

  • Crystal

    5 stars
    I love this recipe…! I learned about it from an old teacher that I have a lot of respect for.

    I was wondering how long this stew might last in the fridge as I am considering making it for meal prep.

  • Heidi U.

    5 stars
    This soup is divine. Definitely going on my regular rotation of delicious recipes. Thank you!

  • Linda

    I make this soup frequently, passed it on to a friend, who also enjoys it frequently! Wondering, would butternut squash be an acceptable/comparable substitute for sweet potatoes?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Linda!
      I have made this ginger sweet potato coconut milk stew with butternut squash before and it was delicious! It’s a nice little change–just a bit less sweet than the sweet potatoes :)
      -L

  • Gems

    Can this be made in a pressure cooker? Thnx

  • Lisa Hooper

    can I use red lentils instead of brown lentils?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Lisa!

      You can use red lentils, but since they are a split lentil that takes much less time to cook, they will break down into the stew–which will thicken it up a bit! Other than this, using red lentils will not impact the overall flavour really.

      -L

  • Kelly

    So good! And simple! Don’t skip the lime and cilantro on top.

  • Erin Joy

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing, hands down. Made it exactly per the instructions, and it is out of this world. Looking forward to making this all winter long. Thank you!

  • Hannah

    5 stars
    Made this twice so far and it was phenomenal both times. I subbed broccoli for the kale one time and spinach the other. It was fantastic both times!!! Especially with the broccoli. I added some curry powder and garam masala since I didn’t have coriander. Will absolutely make again. Thank you for a delicious recipe! My husband and I in Tulsa, OK very much appreciate all your delicious recipes.

  • Laurie

    5 stars
    I made this for my son’s visit as he’s a vegetarian. We all really liked it. He ate two full bowls! The cilantro and lime are great additions. I will definitely make this again.

  • Tawnya

    5 stars
    Half baked harvest literally posted this exact recipe this week. I think she completely ripped you off

  • Margaret

    5 stars
    Made last night. Delicious! Thank you

  • Emily

    5 stars
    We love this stew. We have made it a bunch of times this fall, and we enjoy it so much every single time. We made a batch for my elderly father who is going through a really hard time right now and maybe hadn’t been getting enough healthy food. He said it felt like the stew was healing him. Thanks for this terrific recipe.

  • Kalena

    5 stars
    This soup was delish!!! I don’t use oil or salt, so I added extra garlic and ginger and a little tamari and dulse flakes. Thank you for this excellent recipe! I made your veg broth recipe too and love the browning first. Came out rich and delish. Can’t wait to try more.

    • Laura Wright

      Love the idea of adding dulse flakes to this! Thanks for leaving this review, Kalena :)
      -L

  • Molly

    5 stars
    11/10 One of my favorite fall/winter recipes of all time.

    I found this recipe about 4 years ago, and I totally fell in love with it! At one point I lost the screenshots I’d taken of it and couldn’t find it again online and I almost cried LOL. But after a ridiculous amount of googling I finally found it again. It’s now printed on actual paper and laminated in a 3 ring binder so that I never lose it again haha

    I pretty much have this in my freezer at all times. It freezes REALLY well. I’m a shameless meat lover, so I wanted to mention a few tweaks I’ve made over the years in case anyone’s interested (but it’s absolutely fabulous as is, as well)-

    I follow the recipe with the onions, ginger, and garlic. In addition to the listed spices, I like to add a little cayenne, anise, cinnamon, and fennel too (for a little more of that curry flavor- you can also just use a pre made curry powder from your local asian grocery, the little plastic baggies are cheap!) Then I add half chicken stock and half water for my liquid, and nestle in rib on split chicken breasts and either bone in chicken legs or thighs (as much as you want). I let this simmer with lid slightly skew for 90-120 minutes until the chicken is tender. Then I remove the chicken, pull the bones off, and throw the bones back in the pot while leaving the chicken to the side to cool (I leave the bones in the pot until the very end, for more flavor and nutrients). Then I add in equal parts sweet potatoes and yams, the same total amount the recipe calls for (I like the added color and sweetness of the yams), and the lentils. I simmer that for 30-50 minutes depending on how cooked I want the potatoes. Then I pull out the bones, add my coconut milk (I use about 1/3 what the recipe calls for because I like the taste of the potatoes so much), add my kale, and pull apart the cooked chicken to add back in. I put the whole thing over a bed of jasmine rice (basmati is great too, but I just love jasmine so much!) Then I add all the toppings from the recipe, as well as some Golden Mountain seasoning sauce, a little chili oil, and sometimes a little sriracha.

    I’ve probably made it this way about 20 times now, so there you go if anybody else can’t help putting meat in every dish lol, bon appetit! And thank you SO MUCH to the author for this incredible recipe!!

    • Shawni

      5 stars
      I have never commented on a recipe before, but I will lose this badge to tell you that me and my boyfriend are dying at your comment . “I am SO HAPPY I FOUND THIS RECIPE ITS MY SOUL MATE RECIPE… now here is a chapter book on how I changed it, completely.” .

      We will be following your version, to a T. Thank you.

    • Ruth-Cassandra

      5 stars
      Thank you so much for adding your comment!! I knew it was a vegan dish and felt bad adding meat to it, so I really appreciate your detailed comment as a guide.

  • Julie

    5 stars
    This is good!!!!

  • JayJ

    5 stars
    My meat and potato husband gave this one 2 thumbs up. Made it with homemade pita while the stew simmered, wow. And when you add the cilantro and lime it feels like you shift countries! Great recipe. Try it.

  • Eden

    5 stars
    Made this today, but used cooked lentils added at the end to prevent them going to mush, however I didn’t reduce the broth accordingly so it’s more soupy than stewy and not this vibrant opaque color. Have you done this, and have a rec for how much to reduce the broth? Thanks for the lovely recipe either way.

  • Kelly B

    5 stars
    My husband and I love this recipe! We will make this again! It has the right amount of sweetness and heat, due to the chili flakes. Highly recommend!

  • Vibeke

    5 stars
    Like your creamy lentils with kale and your French onion shepherd’s pie, this recipe is the BOMB!!! Five full stars – made on repeat.

  • Nicole

    So yummy!! Highly recommend!

  • Christine

    5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe. There’s so much flavor and nutrition packed in this easy to make meal!

  • Sarah D

    5 stars
    This was a winner with my family tonight! It’s going in my recipe box. Great recipe. Thank you!

  • PeeBee

    5 stars
    I couldn’t get dried brown lentils without going to a big supermarket so used a tin of green lentils. I added 3/4 tsp chilli flakes then remembered the ones I had were hot as hell. End result was delicious but far too spicy. Not wanting the dish to go to waste, I rescued it by cooking some sweet potatoes until soft, pureed them and mixed them in. This worked a treat and thickened the soup. I’ll definitely make it like this again.

  • Paula

    5 stars
    I couldn’t get dried brown lentils without going to a big supermarket so used a tin of green lentils. I added 3/4 tsp chilli flakes then remembered the ones I had were hot as hell. End result was delicious but far too spicy. Not wanting the dish to go to waste, I rescued it by cooking some sweet potatoes until soft, pureed them and mixed them in. This worked a treat and thickened the soup. I’ll definitely make it like this again.

  • Dana

    5 stars
    This is a terrific recipe and it freezes beautifully.

  • Christine

    5 stars
    Sitting here eating a bowl filled with amazing goodness! Loving every bite. Sweet. Mildly spicy. Just so good.

  • Gab

    5 stars
    Collectively my friend and I have made this soup probably over 30 times. We love your recipe dearly :)

  • Erica

    5 stars
    This has become one of my favorite recipes. So Delish!

  • Frances

    5 stars
    A make again and again and again recipe in our house! Always so delicious.

  • Jenn

    Does this recipe freeze well? Think it would work in a crockpot?

  • Augusta Slocum

    Is there an instant pot version of the recipe?

  • Bee

    5 stars
    Delicious! I make this at least once a month in the winter and eat it for lunch throughout the week. It is *chef’s kiss* with a slice of toasted sourdough/Tuscan bread.

  • Marley

    5 stars
    So good, lot of flavour and easy to make. Definitely making again

  • Eloise

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe first time using lentils always been a little scared of them, but this was amazing !!
    Made some yogurt bread to go with it and it was fab :)))

  • Dawn

    Would love to know what the bread is in the photo – do you have a recipe available for that , or a suggestion for a wheat free accompaniment to this dish?

  • Simon

    5 stars
    I love this recipe… I’ve made it many, many times and always have plenty of leftovers to freeze for lunches. Healthy, hearty, and delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jill

    5 stars
    Both myself and my husband thoroughly enjoyed your recipe and we will certainly be having it again. The only substitution I made was using lite coconut milk and we certainly did not miss the full fat coconut milk.

  • Brittany

    5 stars
    This stew was so good! I was looking for a recipe to use up some sweet potatoes and this was perfect. So much flavour and easy prep with easy cleanup. New family favourite!

  • Rebecca

    Looks amazing. Can this be frozen?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Rebecca!
      Yes, you can freeze this stew. If possible, I would freeze it without the additions of kale and cilantro, just because they tend to get overly soft and unappetizing in colour after they are frozen and thawed. You can simply add them in after the stew has thawed and you’re re-heating it on the stove.
      -L

    • Dana

      5 stars
      I freeze it with the kale and there’s been no problem, the colour is as vibrant as when it’s made. I think freezing it makes the texture of the whole thing so much better, it gets thicker.

  • Mel

    5 stars
    Soooooo delicious added minced turmeric root, tofu, red bell pepper, and some gochujang for spice ️️ served with tandoori naan

  • Milly

    5 stars
    Best soup i’ve ever made! I use the purple kumara (sweet potato). Love all the spices & the hit of chilli I make it for large crowds at the Marae and they all love it! Thanx for sharing this recipe

  • Lisa

    5 stars
    I made unintentional substitutions out of necessity and it was still awesome. I used green lentils bc we didn’t have brown. I also used low fat coconut milk instead of full fat and spinach instead of kale since we didn’t have kale. The low fat coconut milk saved 600 calories and we didn’t miss them at all! What a great, hearty stew I will make again bc with the reduced calories using the light coconut milk, it’s really quite a low calorie meal.

  • Lisa

    This recipe looks really good and I would like to try it. However I only have white sweet potatoes and I’m thinking it would probably work fine. What do you think?

    • Laura Wright

      I think white sweet potatoes would be great! They are a bit more starchy in my experience, so they will help to thicken the stew even more :)
      -L