My family has made lentil soup for a while, ever since my sister’s second visit to Spain two years ago. But it wasn’t until I visited Bellingham’s Avenue Bread that I discovered that lentils could also be used in chili.
It doesn’t seem like that novel a concept, to be honest, but I’d never thought of it before. So when I returned home, I looked up about ten recipes on the internet, changed them a bunch and…voila! Lentil chili.
Ingredients: (keep in mind that the veggies don’t need to be chopped perfectly – a rough chop will add to the texture)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium white/yellow onions, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 bell peppers, diced
6 large cloves garlic, minced/chopped/crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tbsp chili powder (I find that dark chili powder works really well, but regular is totally fine)
5 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp cornstarch
28 oz can diced tomatoes, squished (use the extra juice, too)
16 oz lentils
1. Heat oil in a large pot. You could totally use a dutch oven too, but I haven’t tried it yet.
2. Add onions and carrots. Cook for 5-10 minutes until soft.
3. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, and bell pepper. Cook 5 more minutes.
4. While that’s cooking, heat vegetable broth in a separate small pot until boiling.
5. Remove one cup vegetable broth into a bowl and mix the corn starch into it with a whisk. This step is important, as it allows the cornstarch to mix with the broth without clumping. Add the mixture, along with the rest of the broth, to the large pot of veggies.
6. Add the tomatoes and lentils.
7. Lower heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until lentils are tender. If you need to let them simmer longer (because the rest of dinner isn’t ready, someone isn’t home, whatever) just add a little more vegetable broth or tomato juice so it doesn’t get too thick. This stuff can turn into oatmeal real quick!
In the words of Julia Child (and a whole bunch of French people), Bon Appetit!
Feel free to give feedback – it’s much appreciated.