Thomas Russell is a Practical English for Success (PES) volunteer serving in a pueblo in Atlántico, Colombia

This is what kept me going in my first few months at site. Schedules change, counterparts change, space and time actually changes, but these lentils stay the same. They’re perfectly good without the meat; in fact, that is the most common way I have made them. Thyme and basil can be found at Olimpica.


For the lentils:

1 cup of french (brown) lentils

½ red onion, chopped

½ carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 Bay leaf (laurel)

Pinch of thyme (tomillo)

Salt and pepper


For the chicken:

½ chicken breast, diced

3 tablespoons of finely chopped white onion

½ cup of skinned, seeded tomato, finely chopped (stick a knife in the tomato and rotate it over an open flame. After about 30 seconds you should be able to peel the skin right off. It’ll be hot though so watch out!)

1 minced garlic tooth

½ teaspoon of cumin

Salt and pepper


  1. Rinse the lentils. They can be soaked the night before but it’s not necessary.
  2. In a pot, sauté the half onion, carrot, celery, tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme on a medium flame for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the lentils, cover with water, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. If you like your lentils less firm, continue simmering for another 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. In another pan, make a stew with the 3 tablespoons of onion, half cup of skinned tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Combine the stew and lentils, and serve with rice if desired.


If you liked this recipe or have a pueblo recipe you’d like to share, we’d love to hear about it for our Peace Corps Colombia cookbook Tierra de Sancocho! Please reach out to

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