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Plate with sweet sour green lentils stew, topped with fried onion, sunny side up egg, pickles and freshly chopped parsley

Sweet and Sour One-Pot Green Lentils

  • Author: Michal Martinek
  • Prep Time: 8 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6–8 1x
  • Cuisine: Czech


This one-pot dish is delicious, easy to make and highly nutritious. The sweet and sour flavor of the green lentils is perfectly balanced thanks to vinegar, onion, salt and black pepper.


  • 1 pound (2½ cups, 454 g) green lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups (182 g) diced, peeled, yellow onion
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) vinegar (apple cider, white, or red wine)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional) (note 1)
  • Fried onion topping:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (118 g) diced, peeled, yellow onion
  • Serving suggestions:
  • Fried egg
  • Pickles
  • Chopped fresh parsley and/or chives


  1. Wash the lentils under cold running water to remove any dirt and debris. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add water to come up 2 inches (5 cm) above the lentils. Soak for a minimum 1 hour and maximum 8 hours/overnight (note 2).
  2. Transfer the lentils with the soaking water to a large heavy-bottomed pot or a Dutch oven. Add the bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered until the lentils are almost soft, about 15–18 minutes—you don’t want them to fall apart and get mushy.
  3. Discard the bay leaves. Place a sieve over a large bowl and drain the lentils, preserving all the cooking liquid (you’ll have about 1¾ cup/415 ml of liquid). Set both aside.
  4. Wash the heavy-bottomed pot and heat the vegetable oil in it over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 6–8 minutes.
  5. Add the lentils and stir in the vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Add the sugar, if using. Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 more minutes. Turn the heat off.
  6. To make the lentils creamier, remove 1 cup and blend them in a blender until smooth, then return back to the pot, and stir in. (You can also use a food processor, potato masher, or immersion blender).
  7. Taste the lentils and adjust to your taste – add more salt, vinegar, black pepper and/or sugar.
  8. Make the fried onion. Place both the oil and the onion in a small skillet at the same time, and stir. (Starting with the onion in the oil makes both cook gradually, and prevents the onion from burning).
  9. Heat slowly over medium-low heat. Cook and stir occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
  10. Serve the green lentils with the fried onion topping, fried onion and pickles. Store the lentils and the fried onion topping separately in the fridge for up to 3 days (note 3).


  1. Sugar – It’s part of my grandma’s original recipe, but I find it’s not necessary, because the onion sweetens it enough.
  2. Soaking the lentils – the longer you soak the lentils, the faster they cook, but might also fall apart faster & get mushy. My mom doesn’t soak them at all, but the cooking time is longer. Find a compromise depending on how much time you want to spend cooking.
  3. I like to reserve 2 cups of the cooked lentils and make a lentil soup: add 5–6 cups vegetable stock or water, 2 cups of chopped vegetables you have on hand (carrot, parsnip, potato, zucchini, peas, chopped greens such as kale), 1–2 tablespoons fresh herbs, or even 1/2 cup of leftover cooked rice, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.