Lentil Chili

Lentil Chili

This lentil chili is a different take on a Fall classic. I’m always looking for new ways to cook lentils, and this one’s a hit at my house.

The chili served in a blue bowl and garnished with melted cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream displayed on a blue table with a beige linen and a spoon.

 

In this recipe, lentils, onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, red and black beans are cooked in a tex-mex inspired seasoned broth. It’s a filling and delicious non-conventional chili that’s affordable and makes a great meatless meal.

 

What type of lentils to use?

There are four general categories for lentils: brown, green, red/yellow and specialty. For this dish we recommend using brown or green lentils. They hold their shape with longer cooking times, they’re affordable and easy to find at just about any supermarket.

 

If you’re looking to add more lentils to your diet, check out this article all about how to cook lentils including some great recipes to get you started.

Five different varieties and color of lentils in small piles on black table.
 

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, optional
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes, we used fire roasted tomatoes
  • 12 ounces Dried Lentils, use brown or green lentils
  • 6 cups Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth if you want to keep it vegetarian
  • 1-2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Red Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (6-8 ounce) can Corn, drained
  • Salt, to taste if needed at the end

The ingredients for the chili arranged on a white table.

 

Optional topping ideas

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Corn Chips (like Fritos)
  • Crumbled Tortilla Chips
  • Corn Bread
  • Diced Avocado
  • Chopped Cilantro or Parsley
  • Hot Sauce

 

Prep work

The prep work for this chili is quick and easy. The only knife work involved is for the onion and garlic. Everything else is a snap. We’ll start the prep work sorting the lentils. Don’t skip this step I’ve found small stones in dry lentils before.

  • Place the lentils in a large, bowl or on a clean, flat surface. Pick through them carefully and remove any foreign objects, such as tiny rocks, twigs, misshaped beans, etc. Then, rinse them well with cool water and drain.
    Dice the onions
  • Mince the garlic
  • Combine the chili powder, cumin, black pepper and crushed red pepper, if using, in a small bowl.
  • Rinse the black and red beans. The best way to do this is to add them to a colander and run gently under cool water until the water runs clear.
  • Drain the corn
  • Gather the remaining ingredients

The ingredients prepped and separated into clear, glass bowls and arranged on a white table.

 

How to make lentil chili

This is a one pot meal that’s really easy to put together.

 

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. We used an enameled cast-iron dutch oven. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until they’re translucent and start to soften, stir frequently.

 

Next, add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes (if using); cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring frequently.

 

Add the chopped tomatoes, lentils, chicken broth and the bay leaves to the pot. Stir well. Raise the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer the lentils for 25 minutes or until almost tender. Stir occasionally. If at this point they are not close to done, then give them another 10 minutes and check again.

 

Add the beans and corn to the lentils and stir well to combine. Continue cooking, covered and still on medium-low heat, for 15-20 minutes to let the flavors to come together and to get the lentils very tender. Stir the chili occasionally to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

  • If the lentil chili needs thickening, uncover the pot for a little while and let some of the liquid cook out. Keep the chili at a simmer and stir occasionally; lower the heat a little if it starts to boil too vigorously.
  • If it’s too thick for your taste, then add a little bit of broth to loosen it up and continue cooking until heated through.

 

Use tongs to fish out the bay leaves, remove and discard.

 

Taste and season

It’s best to wait until the end to add extra salt to this lentil chili. The chicken (or vegetable) broth, canned beans and diced tomatoes all contain a good amount of salt already. Taste the lentils at the end and add salt if needed. Also, keep in mind the toppings you’re serving before adding extra salt. For example, if your toppings are salty like cheese or chips then factor that in when deciding. As a reference we didn’t add any extra salt to ours.

 

Serve the lentil chili with your choice of toppings and enjoy!

The lentil chili served in a blue bowl with a beige colored linen and a spoon on the side. The chili is garnished with melted cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

 

Cook’s Notes: As with all beans, the cooking time offered for lentils is just an estimate. Actual cooking time will depend on how soft you like them and the freshness of the beans. The fresher the lentils the quicker they will cook.

 

You may also like these lentil recipes:

 

The lentil chili served in a blue bowl with a beige colored linen and a spoon on the side. The chili is garnished with melted cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Lentil Chili

This lentil chili is a different take on a Fall classic. I’m always looking for new ways to cook lentils, and this one is a hit at my house.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili, lentils
Servings: 6
Calories: 418kcal
Author: Elizabeth

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion finely diced
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes optional
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes we used fire roasted tomatoes
  • 12 ounces Dried Lentils use brown or green lentils
  • 6 cups Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth
  • 1-2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Black Beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Red Beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 (6-8 ounce) can Corn drained
  • Salt to taste if needed at the end

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until they’re translucent and start to soften, stir frequently.
  • Next, add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes (if using); cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, lentils, chicken broth and the bay leaves to the pot. Stir well.
  • Raise the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer the lentils for 25 minutes or until almost tender. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the red and black beans and corn to the lentils, stir well to combine. Continue cooking, covered, on medium-low heat, for 15-20 minutes to let the flavors to come together and to get the lentils very tender. Stir the chili occasionally to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Find the bay leaves, remove and discard.
  • Taste the lentils and add salt if needed. Also, keep in mind the toppings you’re serving before adding extra salt. For example, if your toppings are salty like cheese or chips then factor that in when deciding. As a reference we didn’t add any extra salt to ours.
  • Serve the lentil chili with your choice of toppings!

Notes

The cooking time offered is just an estimate. Actual cooking time will depend on how soft you like the lentils and the freshness of the beans. The fresher the lentils the quicker they will cook.
If the lentil chili needs thickening: uncover the pot for a little while and let some of the liquid cook out. Keep at a simmer and stir occasionally. If it’s too thick: add a little bit of broth to loosen it up and heat through.
Optional topping ideas: Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream, Corn Chips (like Fritos), Crumbled Tortilla Chips, Corn Bread, Diced Avocado, Chopped Cilantro or Parsley, Hot Sauce

Nutrition

Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1444mg | Potassium: 1412mg | Fiber: 28g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 624IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 128mg | Iron: 8mg
The nutritional information above is computer generated and is only an estimate. There is no guarantee that it is accurate.This data is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only.

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