Lentil Chili

When the snow is falling outside all I feel like making are comforting meals that can easily be eaten on the couch while I am wrapped up in my favorite blanket. Soup and chiliare one of my favorites meals this time of year. They are so warm, filling and usually healthy. This simple weeknight friendly chili recipe uses lentils instead of beans for a quick comforting meal. It also has an unexpected ingredient…chocolate! The chocolate adds an unexpected depth and richness to this hearty chili. It can easily be adapted to be a vegetarian recipe by substituting the bacon for olive oil. Do you eat lentils? If not, you really should! Lentils are one of the healthiest foods around. They are high in protein, cholesterol free, virtually fat-free, and low in calories. They are also budget-friendly, high in folate, fiber and a great source of iron. This hearty chili takes only an hour to make and is a great way to brighten up a snowy winter evening.

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Lentil Chili

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  • 2 strips bacon, diced (or 2 tablespoons of olive oil)
  • 2 cups onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic,minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups V-8 or tomato juice
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 2 cups brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chips
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate;set aside.
  2. Sweat the onions, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic in the bacon drippings (or 2 tablespoons of olive oil) until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and coriander; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, V-8, water and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Stir in chocolate until it melts, 2-3 minutes. Add the lime juice and bacon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish each serving with sour cream and avocado.

Yields: 8 servings (1 ¼ cups per serving/ 229 calories)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Source: Cuisine at Home, October 2010

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25 Responses to Lentil Chili

  1. gladsy says:

    How can this possibly be vegetarian with Bacon in it. Are you suggesting a faux bacon?

  2. Wow!
    This recipe sounds and looks delicious. Never thought of mixing chocolate and lentils.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Oh I love this take on chili and those avocados too. I’ve never used lentils for chili and make it a lot.

  4. Caroline says:

    Now that’s one good looking bowl of soup! Really wish I could eat that for lunch today. Huge fan of lentils. 🙂

  5. Great post! Love the info about lentils and the pictures are beautiful. I will be passing this post along. Looking forward to making this recipe soon!

  6. Oh gorgeous. I am sitting on the sofa with my blanket, but my bowl of chili lentils hasn´t arrived yet….!

  7. Judy says:

    I like this idea, especially topping it with avocado. This is a keeper.

  8. Michael Ann says:

    what a great idea!! I love lentils too. I don’t make lentil soup often and this recipe looks easier than the traditional lentil soup. Thanks!

  9. Karen says:

    I can’t wait to try this. You have a lot of yummy stuff in there and it looks like pure comfort food.

  10. ChgoJohn says:

    This has been my Winter of the Lentil, having made 2 very large batches of lentil soup already. Now, thanks to you, I’ll be buying them a 3rd time so that I can make this chili. It sounds great!

  11. Eliot says:

    That avocado looks wonderful as a garnish. I really need to cook more with lentils.

  12. Nancy says:

    These are absolutely beautiful pictures! Another great post. This lentil chili sounds perfect for the frigid weather right now.

  13. hotlyspiced says:

    Your soup looks tasty and delicious. I just love the look of your avocado. It is so perfect and unblemished and the perfect accompaniment to chilli.

  14. Mmmm this looks so good!!! I love a bowl of chili. Always so comforting. I usually make mine with beans but I love the idea of using lentils.

  15. I just made some chili myself, never occurred to me to add bacon but that sounds really delicious. Perfect dish for this time of year 🙂

  16. The Teenage Taste says:

    Wow, Christina! You just read my mind. I’ve been craving a good bean soup like whoa and you delivered! Thanks!

  17. Great idea! Love the fresh avocado topping! We like lentils so I’ll need to bookmark this.

  18. Laura says:

    This is a perfect soup for a snowy football filled day. I think I might try to make this for dinner tonight. Love the avocado topping!

  19. Holley says:

    I just made this and I’m in LOVE!!!! It’s soooooooooooo good! Thank you!

  20. Kelly says:

    What a great chili recipe and your photos are fabulous!! Saving this for sure! 🙂

  21. This looks truly delightful! I’ve made a meat chili with cocoa powder in it and it was delicious! I love lentils so much and would certainly go crazy over this delightful chili!

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