Many years ago, good friends of ours had a chili cook-off party. It was so much fun! We all brought our own versions of chili and blindly taste-tested. Blindly, in that we didn’t know who’s was who’s…but admittedly, there were margaritas involved! It was so interesting to see the different interpretations of what we all refer to as “chili”. Some had no beans at all, just ground meat, while others had a mixture of the two and then some used chunks of beef instead of ground. The hostess had made hers with lentils. It was really delicious and it’s always stuck with me. Since then, I’ve been meaning to try making a chili made with lentils…so, ten years later…
I really made this with my vegetarian daughter in mind. This dish has so many flavors and ingredients that she loves. Especially the spicy factor! That girl uses hot sauce on everything! The chipotle and the Tabasco add some heat to the pot, but I like to serve this with some more Tabasco on top…along with avocado cubes, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and some cilantro. You can make a pot of rice to go along with this, some corn bread or even just some tortilla chips. I know you’ll love this! Even my anti-vegetarian husband gave this two thumbs up!
So, if I’m ever invited to another chili cook off…this is what I’m bringing!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 4 large carrots, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 – 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 29 ounce can tomato sauce
- 29 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
- 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers, diced
- 1 – 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey (use pure maple syrup to keep this vegan)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Topping Suggestions:
- Tabasco Sauce
- sour cream
- avocado cubes
- shredded cheddar or jack cheese
- a squeeze of lime
- cilantro leaves
- In a large heavy pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil, then the onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until the onions have softened, then add the garlic and continue to cook for just one minute.
- Add the spices next through the bay leaf. Cook for about two more minutes to get them fragrant.
- Add the broth (start with 5 cups first, you may need an additional cup later to thin the sauce out), lentils and tomato sauce and raise the heat to high, bringing the broth to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes to get the lentils tender.
- Add the black beans, corn, red peppers, Tabasco and honey and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes. Add the extra cup of broth, if needed.
- Serve in bowls with the toppings of your choice.
If you are using canned broth, don't use salt until the dish is completely done, then give it a taste. Even if using low salt broth, you may not even need any additional.
To keep this vegan, be sure to use pure maple instead of honey and omit the sour cream and shredded cheese toppings. Try vegan shreds instead.
This makes a lot of chili, but it's wonderful reheated days later and freezes well too.