Vegetarian Lentil and Bean Chili

I can’t think of anything more warm and comforting than a big bowl of soup, stew, or chili. Especially in fall or winter.

I was craving chili recently and decided to make a vegetarian version.

I used lentils to replace the meat and added additional veggies like carrots, bell peppers, and corn. It is a vegetarian chili after all so should be chock full of vegetables!

But chili with lentils is not enough. I feel a good chili needs beans, and in this case I like using red beans because it adds color to the dish.

How to Make Lentil and Bean Chili

This recipe calls for kidney beans and lentils. If you want to use dry kidney beans, rinse and cook them according to the package instructions and set them aside.

If using dried lentils, they can be cooked directly in the stew. If using cooked lentils, you’ll need about 2 1/2 cups worth. Also, only add them at the last 2-5 minutes so they heat through. Lentils can easily become mushy so you don’t want to overcook.

In a large pot, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat. Then add diced onions, bell peppers, carrots, minced garlic, and minced jalapeños or chili peppers (optional).

Sauté the aromatics for 5-8 minutes until softened. Then add in some sliced mushrooms if you like, sautéing them until they brown slightly.

Next add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. Followed by chopped or crushed tomatoes. Sauté another 2-3 minutes until everything cooks down a bit.

As for spices, there’s quite a few, but they all add flavor and depth to the chili. Ground cumin, paprika, dried oregano, garlic and onion powders, and cayenne are added cooked for only about 30-60 seconds to help the oils and flavors release.

Finally, add dried green lentils, frozen corn, and vegetable or chicken broth. Add some water if needed to cover everything.

Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Then add in a can of red kidney beans and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, adding more water if needed. Taste for salt.

If you cooked your own kidney beans, add them earlier so they cook for a total of 20-30 min. They may need a longer simmer time than the canned ones.

I like to eat this chili with minced onions for crunch and some fresh cilantro. Or you can top it with green onions or jalapeños, hot sauce, or maybe sour cream and cheese.

This is not a fancy chili. It is simple and basic and tastes like how chili should. Feel free to change up the veggies, or add more spice.

Try some of these other cold weather recipes

Easy Chicken Soup with Dumplings
A simple and savory chicken vegetable soup topped with soft fluffy dumplings.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen bowl of chicken and dumpling soup.
Curried Lentil Soup with Veggies
Lentils, veggies, and curry powder come together to make the perfect bowl of soup!
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen bowl of lentil soup with veggies, cilantro.
Vegetarian Lentil and Bean Chili
A warm comforting vegetarian chili made with hearty red beans and green lentils.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen vegetarian lentil chili with beans, corn, onions, cilantro.

Joby's Test Kitchen vegetarian lentil chili with beans, corn, onions, cilantro.

Vegetarian Lentil and Bean Chili

Joby’s Test Kitchen
A warm comforting vegetarian chili made with hearty red beans and green lentils.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 52 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 7 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 15oz can red kidney beans or 1 cup dry beans
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 small carrots, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 small-medium jalapeños, minced (optional)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
  • 1-2 cups chopped or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsps ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¾-1½ tsps cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup frozen multi-veggie mix or plain corn
  • 1-2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2-3 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnishes:

  • red onion
  • jalapeños
  • cilantro
  • cheese
  • sour cream
  • hot sauce

Instructions
 

  • If using dry beans, rinse and cook them according to instructions. Set aside.
  • In a large pot set over medium heat, heat some oil. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeño if using. Sauté everything for 5-8 minutes until softened.
  • Add tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes. Then add the fresh tomatoes and sauté them for 2-3 minutes or until they cook down a bit.
  • Now add the spices and stir for 30-60 seconds. Finally put in the lentils, corn, and broth. Add enough water to cover everything.
  • Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Then add the kidney beans and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes or until the lentils soften. Add more water if needed. Taste for salt.

Notes

Beans: If you use dried kidney beans that were cooked, add them along with the lentils because they may need to simmer longer than canned ones.
Lentils: If you want to use cooked lentils, use about 2½ cups worth. Also, only add them towards the end of cooking, for about 2-5 minutes so they heat through. Lentils will easily become mushy, so don’t overcook them.
Keyword chili powder, kidney beans, lentils

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