Lentil Chili??? (Never again!)

Found this recipe out on the Net – sounded good enough I slightly “tweaked” it and will be making a batch real soon. (I did – see below)…


Lentils make great chili. Unlike beans, they don’t need to be soaked first, so you can make this dish more spontaneously than traditional chili. If cooked long enough, lentils achieve a consistency similar to ground beef, and can give a similar satisfaction (for those who are nostalgic for beef barbecue and sloppy Joes).

NOTE: This freezes beautifully.

4 cups dried lentils–any kind
6 to 7 cups water (tomato juice can be substituted for about 2 cups water)
One 1-pound can tomatoes, or 3 to 4 large ripe fresh tomatoes (peeling optional), chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or about 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste (consider the kids here)

Optional Toppings:

  • Thin slices of sharp cheddar
  • Salsa
  • A handful of toasted cashews
  • Minced fresh parsley and/or cilantro


Place lentils and 6 cups of water in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and lower the heat to a simmer. Leave it this way for about 30 minutes, checking it every now and then to be sure it isn’t cooking any faster than a gentle simmer. (You can chop the vegetables during this time.)

  1. Add tomatoes, cumin, paprika, thyme, garlic, and onions. Stir, mostly cover again, and let it cook for another 30 minutes or so. Check the water level as it cooks, and add water or tomato juice in 1/4-cup increments as needed, to prevent dryness. Stir from the bottom every several minutes during the cooking.
  2. Add salt and tomato paste. Stir and continue to simmer slowly, partially covered, until the tomato paste is all blended in… about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vinegar, black pepper, and crushed red pepper, adjusting the seasonings to taste. Serve hot, with some or all of the optional toppings.

Notes: I’ll probably use the red lentils just for appearances – will also play with using lentils both with and without chili meat in my normal “Papa’s Chili” recipe.

Have I mentioned that lentils are a superb source of protein, second only to Soy? Dried lentils are easy to store and a great addition to any emergency supplies.


Follow Up:

Well I finally did make a batch of that lentil chili and while it all sounded pretty good and smelled great – the coloration and consistency were so far off of *Chili* that I couldn’t get past that part. If I *had* to make it again, (which I won’t), I would simply cook off the lentils first then set them completely aside, re-adding them at the last minute to mix/heat. As it was, the dish was terribly over-cooked IMO – and on the 2nd day turned into chili-flavored “bean-dip”. After eating a bowl, I elected to toss the whole batch rather than subject my family to that mess. This was bad enough I will post this in the “Off-Topic Recipes” area just for historic purposes. (YUK!)

I *love* lentils in soups and stews, receiving a lot of complements on my lentil soup – so will stick with that and keep them out of my chili.

One “trick” I use for good bean or lentil soup is to take about half of the beans/lentils and puree them in a blender – or just stick an electric “motorboat” right down into the pot, (after it has cooled a bit), and puree part of the mix that way. A wonderful way to make the consistency of your soup “just right” IMO.

This entry was posted by dave on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 11:42 pm and is filed under Random Recipes . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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