Lentils are not only delicious in conjunction with spaetzle. I also enjoy them with potatoes as in this rustic lentil stew with bacon. It’s a simple one-pot meal that has an astonishingly deep and complex flavor.
Dishes like this one have a long tradition in Germany as they are very nutritious and cheap to prepare. The focus of these one-pot meals is not the meat itself but the harmonious combination of starches, vegetables, broth, and meat. Every ingredient that gets added to the broth enhances its flavor.
Another classic example of a German one-pot meal is Gaisburger Marsch. It’s a soup that combines potatoes, spaetzle, vegetables, and onions. Somehow these kinds of dishes have lost some of their popularity in recent years as they can take quite some time to prepare.
Even with pre-soaking, I needed to cook the lentils for 35 minutes until they were tender to my liking. If you have a pressure cooker on hand, this lentil stew with bacon is the perfect opportunity to use it.
You can modify the lentil stew with bacon to your taste
If you don’t have any chicken broth on hand, that is ok. You can also cook this soup with water. The flavor won’t be as deep and concentrated but it will nevertheless taste delicious. The lentils and vegetables will yield a light broth that is delicate in flavor.
I add carrot, celeriac (celery root), and kohlrabi to my soup. However, the vegetables you put in this stew are up to your taste. Everything that you like goes. Just make sure to not boil more delicate leafy greens for too long so they won’t turn mushy. The vegetables should be tender but they shouldn’t be tasteless mush.
I recommend serving this stew with a slice of sourdough bread. I know that some people think it’s weird to combine bread and potatoes or potatoes and noodles. But I think that’s just glorious. Two different kinds of carbs taste always better than one!
Lentil Stew with Bacon (‘Linseneintopf mit Speck’)
- 1/2 cup green lentils
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup finely diced smoked bacon
- 1 medium-sized white onion, finely minced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 sprig lovage
- 3 sprigs savory
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 cups cubed waxy potatoes, about 9 ounces (250 g)
- 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
- 1/2 cup finely diced kohlrabi
- 1/2 cup finely diced celeriac (celery root)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar + more to taste
- cayenne pepper, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- salt, to taste
- flat-leaf parsley, for sprinkling
Soak the lentils:
- Soak the lentils in plenty of water for at least 3 hours before cooking. When ready to cook, discard the soaking liquid and rinse the lentils thoroughly.
Cook the lentils:
- Heat the butter and bacon cubes in a large pot over medium heat. Sweat the mixture for 3-4 minutes until the fat from the bacon starts to render. Add the onion and garlic and sweat the mixture for another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and sweat for another 30 seconds. Then add your lentils along with the chicken broth, lovage, savory, and bay leaf. Bring the broth to a simmer, then cover the pot and let the lentils gently simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
Cook your vegetables and season the stew:
- After 20 minutes of simmering, add in your potatoes, carrot, kohlrabi, and celeriac. Cover the pot again and simmer for 15 more minutes. Season the stew to taste with the sugar, vinegar, cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Ladle the stew into deep soup bowls and sprinkle with some parsley leaves. Serve with a slice of sourdough bread.