Vegetarian Lentil Chili Recipe

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Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Calories
252

A hearty one-pot Vegetarian Lentil Chili Recipe perfect for those cold winter nights! This Lentil Chili has a rich smoky flavor, packed with vegetables, high in protein and fiber. It’s absolute comfort in a bowl!

When it comes to Chili Recipes some of our favorite sides to serve with it are my Everyday Salad Recipe or my Spinach Salad with Apples, Pecans & Gorgonzola.

vegetarian lentil chili in a bowl with toppings

** This post is sponsored by Rouxbe. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Joyful Healthy Eats. As always all opinions are 100% mine.**

Why you won’t miss the meat in this Lentil Chili

One area I have been trying to grow in over the past year is creating more plant-based meals. I don’t have a ton of knowledge on the subject if I’m being honest. So I decided to enroll in an online cooking course called Rouxbe. Rouxbe is an online training tool that helps you enhance your culinary knowledge. From knife skills to mastering the frying pan, steaming and braising, food safety, how to cook vegetables, and if vegetarian isn’t your thing they show you how to cook steaks, poultry, and eggs too. They literally have everything you can think of, and then some.

What I love about Rouxbe is they are a video-based platform that makes understanding for this “visual learner” very simple. Everything is very well put together, professional, easy to access from anywhere at any time. Got 15 minutes? Pull up Rouxbe and learn how to properly chop an onion or butternut squash. Easy as that.

Now that my knife skills are up to par, what better way to test them out than by cooking a Vegetarian Chili that’s loaded with vegetables I have to cut! Honestly, you won’t even miss the meat in the chili because the lentils, beans, and vegetables give this dish such a hearty flavor. Trust me. I’m from Texas we have brisket for breakfast. Meat is in our DNA.

ingredients for vegetarian lentil chili

Ingredients You’ll Need for this Chili

Yup. It’s a long list, but it’s a great way to practice your new knife skills. Each ingredient adds flavor and texture to this incredibly flavorful plant-based chili. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Avocado Oil – I like to use this oil because it has a high cooking temperature so you won’t end up with burnt oil.
  • Aromatics – You can’t have chili without a good quantity of aromatics. I use yellow onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Otherwise known as a mirepoix.
  • Peppers – I like to use a combo of peppers, not only for flavor but also for color. After all, we eat with our eyes first. You’ll need red pepper, yellow pepper and poblano pepper.
  • Lentils – I used regular green or brown lentils in this recipe, however you could also use french green lentils or red lentils if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Beans – You’ll need both low sodium black beans and low sodium dark red kidney beans. Make sure they are drained and rinsed to remove any of the excess liquid they were sitting in.
  • Spices – This is where the flavor comes in. I use the same spices in all my chili recipes because they give incredible depth of flavor. You’ll need ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika (not regular paprika), ground coriander and salt.
  • Tomato Paste – I find this highly concentrated paste gives the chili a depth that makes it taste like you’ve cooked it for hours.
  • Diced Tomato – Any time I use diced tomatoes in a recipe I always use fire roasted. In my opinion, it’s more flavorful than the regular diced tomatoes.
  • Tomato Sauce – Make sure it says “no salt added”, you want to control the salt levels as much as you can.
  • Vegetable Stock – You could use water here as well. However, I like to add flavor any chance I get and this vegetable stock definitely adds depth and keeps with the vegetarian theme.

Do you Have to Soak Lentils Before Cooking?

No. You don’t have to soak lentils before cooking. It is a good practice to rinse them under water to clear off any debris or dirt that may still be on the lentils.

How to Cook Lentils in Chili?

I like to add the lentils to my chili around the same time I add my harder vegetables and spices. I find it gives the lentils a smidge more flavor before I add the liquid and simmer them for 15-20 minutes.

two bowls filled with vegetarian lentil chili and toppings

How to Make Vegetarian Lentil Chili

I love the process of making soups and chilis. It’s therapeutic. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut ahead of time then enjoy the smells and the process of creating culinary art. This recipe is pretty simple once you have everything prepped. Just dump and cook. Here’s how to make it:

Prepare Lentils – Place lentils in a sieve and rinse with water. Remove any debris or dirt.

Heat Soap Pot – Bring a large Dutch Oven to medium-high heat.

Saute Onions – Add in avocado oil and yellow onions. Saute until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. About 2-3 minutes.

Cook Aromatics & Peppers – Add in Next add in the garlic, celery, red pepper, yellow pepper, and poblano peppers. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add Remaining Vegetables & Spices – Add in lentils, carrots, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander, and salt. Stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Finish with Liquids & Beans – Then add in your diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, vegetable stock, and beans. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Tips & Tricks for Success

  • The Cut – The key to a good chili is making sure that all your dices are the same size, especially on the mirepoix. This ensures even cooking times. The only vegetable I vary the cut size in are the carrots, I find it adds a nice surprise texture.
  • The Line up – Have all of your ingredients out and all of your vegetables prepped before you start cooking. Trust me, it will make things easier and you won’t end up with overcooked vegetables because you forgot to cut the carrots.
  • Brown the Onions – Honestly, the best thing I could tell you is brown equals flavor. It does not equal burnt. Browning your onions adds so much flavor to any dish.
  • Thinner Chili – I like a thick hearty chili. The lentils will expand after they’ve been simmering for a while and soak up some of that liquid. If you want a thinner more “soup” like chili, I’d recommend adding 1-2 cups of vegetable stock.
  • Don’t overcook – This is a soup you don’t want to overcook. The beans and lentils could get mushy, so keep an eye on the texture as you’re cooking so you don’t over do it.
  • Spice it up – If you like your chili to have a little “kick” to it. Add in 1-2 tablespoons of diced chipotle chilis in adobo sauce!
ladel scooping lentil chili

How to Store this Lentil Chili

You can store this chili in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.

Can I Freeze this Lentil Chili?

Yes! Allow chili to cool then place in a freezer-safe storage bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, allow chili to thaw in the refrigerator overnight then heat in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Other Chili Recipes You’ll Love

bowl filled with vegetarian lentil chili
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bowl filled with vegetarian lentil chili

Vegetarian Lentil Chili Recipe

  • Author: Krista
  • prep_time Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • cook_time Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • total_time Total Time: 45 minutes
  • yield Yield: 810 1x
  • category Category: Soup
  • method Method: Stove Top
  • cuisine Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

A hearty one pot Vegetarian Lentil Chili Recipe perfect for those cold winter nights! This Lentil Chili has a rich smoky flavor, packed with vegetables, high in protein and fiber. It’s absolute comfort in a bowl!

Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
  • 14 oz can low sodium black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 14 oz can low sodium kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 28 oz. can Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock

Instructions

  1. Bring a large Dutch Oven to medium high heat.
  2. Add in avocado oil and yellow onions. Saute until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. About 2-3 minutes.
  3. Next add in the garlic, celery, red pepper, yellow pepper and poblano peppers. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add in lentils, carrots, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander and salt. Stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  5. Then add in your diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, vegetable stock and beans. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
  • Calories: 252
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Sodium: 711 mg
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 42 g
  • Fiber: 11 g
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: lentil chili, vegetarian chili, how to make chili

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Hey There

Krista
Hi! I'm the recipe developer and food photographer behind all these easy healthy recipes! I love food, Jesus, morning lattes, and am obsessed with fantasy football!

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16 Responses
  1. Tara

    This looks so comforting and delicious! What kind of lentils did you use? I haven’t cooked with them much but bought some green lentils the other day on a whim. Would those work here?

    Thanks so much- I’ve only recently discovered your blog but it’s already one of my favorites!

    1. Krista

      Yup, those were the ones I used. 🙂

      Hurray Tara, so glad you just found me. I honored that you’ve stuck on around and that my recipes end up on your dinner table! Totally makes my day!

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