How to Make Lentil Stew

Posted by The Home School in the Woods Team on

The Bible is a sacred text that has shaped so much of our world’s history. For that reason, we don’t want to leave it out of our children’s history curriculum. However, if we’re honest, this book is incredibly complex and can be difficult for even adults to comprehend!

So, how do we teach our children the Bible in a way that they can easily understand?

We at Homeschool in the Woods are a big believer in hands-on learning. When children can see history right before their eyes, it resonates with them on a deeper level, and they remember it beyond the final exam. 

One of the many ways we like to include hands-on learning in our lessons is by adding historical recipes. Cooking a recipe that relates to your children’s history lesson helps give them a better idea of the period they’re learning about. It’s also fun, memorable, and includes other important subjects like math, reading, and home economics. 

Today, we’re going to share our Lentil Soup Bible recipe found in our Old Testament Activity-Pak. This recipe accompanies a story found in Genesis where Jacob’s brother, Esau, gives up his birthright for a bowl of crimson lentils and a loaf of bread!

To learn more about why you should include recipe making into your history curriculum, read our blog post, Adding Interest to History with Recipes.

The History Behind Lentils

Lentils are an ancient legume that originated in Eastern and Mediterranean regions. This earthy, nutty-tasting legume comes in hundreds of different varieties and colors, including red, brown, and green. 

Interestingly enough, lentils are considered to be one of the earliest domesticated crops in history. They can be found growing on a bush in pods with two seeds inside. The coating found around these seeds has made it an ideal plant for farmers to maintain throughout history due to it being less vulnerable to common crop killers like frost, wind, and insects.

Archeologists have found artifacts of lentils in the Euphrates River dating thousands of years in the past. There’s also clear evidence that lentils were eaten by ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Romans, and Hebrews. 

Depending on which period you’re studying, lentils were either considered a delicacy to the rich, or an easily accessible poor man’s food. This notoriously inexpensive food is incredibly nutritious and filling. It is a great source of protein, iron, and vitamins A and B. 

In today’s society, lentils are a staple food consumed by Asain and Mediterranian cultures. They can be found in a variety of dishes such as soups, stews, curries, stuffings, salads, and more. 

The Story of Esau in Genesis

One of the most well known stories in history involving lentils is the story of Esau and his brother Jacob, found in Genesis. 

Some of you may know the story of Esau and Jacob, twin sons of Issac and Rebekah, and grandsons of Abraham and Sarah. 

God foreshadowed Rebekah’s sons’ future during pregnancy by telling her that, “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One peoples shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).

When the sons were born, Esau came first and was described as looking red and hairy. Jacob, who came second, took hold of Esau’s heel, foreshadowing Jacob and Esau’s struggle for power in the eyes of their parents. 

As the boys grew older, Esau was described as a skillful hunter and a man of the field, whereas Jacob was described as a simple man who dwelled in tents. Issac was said to have favored Esau, and Rebekah, Jacob.

One day Esau came in from the field feeling very weary. Jacob was cooking a red stew made of lentils. Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary” (Genesis 25:31). Jacob responded, “Sell me your birthright as of this day” (Genesis 25:32). Esau agreed saying, “Look, I am about to die, so what is this birthright to me.” 

The rest is history – Esau sold his birthright for a steaming bowl of lentils and bread! Later, Jacob goes on to deceive his brother with the help of his mother to claim his blind father’s blessing inherently due to Esau, the firstborn child. 

Lentil Soup Recipe

This complicated brawl between brothers can leave children with questions like why on Earth would a person sell their birthright for a bowl of lentil soup? At the end of the day, the best way to understand Esau and Jacob’s story is to see it from each character’s point of view. 

Imagine being Esau – not eating all day long, working hard in the fields, and then coming home to a delicious meal you can’t have. Or consider Jacob, a man who yearns to be the spiritual leader of his family, but can’t because he was the second-born son.

Have your children make this Old Testament recipe and reenact this scene for themselves. Maybe then they’ll understand why Esau sold his birthright for it, or perhaps they’ll take Jacob’s side.


  • 6 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 1-2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 (1 lb.) package dried lentils
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of diced tomatoes or 3 cups of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 whole head of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place chopped potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. 
  2. Boil for 15 minutes.
  3. In a pan, saute garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent.
  4. Once potatoes are cooked for 15 minutes, add cooked onion and garlic into the pot.
  5. Add tomatoes.
  6. Rinse lentils thoroughly and place in the pot. Add water if needed.
  7. Add in all seasonings.
  8. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. 
  9. Continue cooking approximately 20-30 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are tender. 
  10. Enjoy this delicious Old Testament recipe!

Other Bible Recipes and Resources

As stated, teaching the Bible can be tough! The key to helping kids understand these providential events is to present it to them in a relatable way. 

Whether you’re teaching your children the New Testament or the Old Testament, we have lessons that incorporate numerous hands-on projects, loaded with lap booking projects that include creative writing, coloring, research, Bible studies, recipes, and more. 

You can find our Old Testament projects in our Old Testament Activity-Pak. For New Testament projects, check out our New Testament Activity-Pak

We hope you enjoy making this recipe with your family and friends! If you do, please post your experience in the comments below, or post to our Facebook page (we’re also on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to follow us!).

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