Lentil Chili with Red Beans


Lentil Chili with Red Beans



Lentils, one of my favorite dry legumes, make fine chili. Tasty, versatile, inexpensive and quick-cooking, lentils are are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. In many ways they’re a wonderfood.


Lentil Chili with Red Beans

Here’s my easily made lentil chili, in which I’m now using red beans. Small red beans, as opposed to red kidney beans, are a variety I’m recently getting to know. They’re the favorite bean for New Orleans and Louisiana cooking as well as one of the most popular beans in several countries in Central America and the Caribbean. While I use them in this recipe, other beans could also do, including pintos, light red kidney beans, and black beans.


This chili is purely plant-based. But unless someone is observing a Vegan diet, some cheese or sour cream would typically be served with it. Chili can be the  main course, particularly if accompanied by rice or corn chips, avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Chili, can also be a snack or, if thinned down with extra liquid, can serve as a soup.


The recipe serves six, but leftovers are great to have.


1 small-medium onion, diced

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 1/4 cups (1/2 pound) dry tan-green lentils, rinsed and drained

2 1/2 cups water, plus more as needed

1/2 cup canned crushed tomato

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

A pinch of ground cloves

2 (14-ounce) cans red beans (or pintos or others), drained

1 teaspoon vinegar


In a heavy pot, gently fry the onion with the olive oil, stirring frequently, until softened. Add the minced garlic and fry one minute, stirring most of the time. Add the rinsed and drained lentils plus the water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Simmer, pot covered but stirring frequently, until lentils are becoming tender. Add a little water from time to time to keep a little liquid on the bottom of the pot. This cooking takes 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, assemble all the other ingredients.


Lentil Chili with Red Beans

When lentils are nearly tender, add the crushed tomato, all the seasonings, and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer, covered, and stirring frequently, 10 minutes. Add drained beans and simmer about five minutes. Add a little water as needed to keep the mixture moist.


Remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar. Taste the chili and add a little salt, if needed, to taste. The chili can be served now, or for better flavor, cool, refrigerate, and rewarm to serve. When rewarming, add a little water, if needed, to the desired thickness. And re-check the salt, adding a little if needed.


Accompany with sliced avocado, sliced tomato, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa and corn tortilla chips. Optionally, serve with rice as well.

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