The table as the gravitational center of our lives.

Cinnamon-Spiced Red Lentil Stew with Chorizo


“I travel the world, and I’m happy to say that America is still the great melting pot – maybe a chunky stew rather than a melting pot at this point, but you know what I mean.” -Philip Glass, American composer

This recipe is one of my first inventions since starting culinary school.  The inspiration came from a local restaurant in my neighborhood (which shall remain politely nameless…) that had something similar on the menu, but when I ordered it I thought it an uninspiring, bland, lazy attempt at combining ingredients that could otherwise have so much potential together.  I took some cues from our class about soups a few weeks ago, and I came up with this lovely, healthy, and flavorful stew that’s incredibly easy to make.


Extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

I carrot, peeled and diced to roughly same size as diced onions

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1 16 oz. bag dried red lentils (we used Arrowhead Mills), picked through but not rinsed

1 28 oz. can fire-roasted crushed or diced tomatoes (we used Muir Glen)

4-6 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade) or water

4 links of chorizo sausage

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1.  In a large stockpot, heat enough olive oil over medium heat to coat the onions and carrots (about 1-2 tablespoons).

2.  When oil is hot, add onion, carrot, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick.  Stir to coat with the oil, and cook until onions are translucent but not brown, stirring occasionally.

3.  Add dried red lentils and continue to cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Add 4 cups of the chicken stock, and the can of fire-roasted tomatoes, and bring to a boil.

4.  As soon as a rapid boil develops, turn heat down and let the stew continue to cook at a gentle simmer, partially covered, for about 30-40 minutes, or until lentils are soft.  Check the pot and stir occasionally to make sure nothing is burning at the bottom of the pot.

5.  While stew is simmering, heat a tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  When oil is hot, brown the chorizo sausages on all sides until desired color is achieved.  Remove sausages from pan and set aside.  Check stew periodically – if it is getting too dry, add more chicken stock or water.

6.  When stew is ready and lentils are soft, discard the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and garlic cloves, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cut sausages into 1″ chunks on the bias (diagonally) and add to the stew.

7.  Ladle the stew into large shallow bowls, garnish as desired, and serve with a large spoon.  (NOTE:  I used dill as a garnish because it’s what I happened to have in the refrigerator, but I would’ve preferred cilantro and a dollop of greek yogurt.  A drizzle of olive oil or some chopped flat-leaf parsley would be great too.)

Yield: About 4 hearty servings

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4 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. Rochelle

    :o) I am so glad we’re becoming friends.

    PS Let’s make this together and garnish it with CHERVIL!

    Jul 22, 2009 @ 12:45 am

  2. Tim

    This is exactly the kind of hearty food I love this time of year. I feel warm just looking at it!

    Jul 23, 2009 @ 3:51 am

  3. Helen

    By “chorizo” do you mean spanish chorizo or mexican chorizo? I’ve got a pound of lentils just waiting to be used in this recipe, but I want to make sure I’ve got the sausage right.


    Sep 28, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

  4. admin

    @ Helen: Either one should work fine, but I’d go with the Spanish chorizo over the Mexican. It’s a personal preference of course, but those Spaniards know their sausage! Have fun in the kitchen, and send a photo when you make it! :)

    Sep 28, 2009 @ 2:34 pm