Lentil Chili Recipe

Lentils may not make your dinner table every night, but it's worth adding them to the rotation. Lentils are a rich source of protein, iron, and several B vitamins (including B6, thiamine, niacin, and folate), not to mention the minerals magnesium, zinc, and potassium, as well as fiber (via Healthline). And all they "cost" you is a mere 230 calories for a full cup of cooked lentils. 

Notwithstanding all the health benefits of consuming lentils, this tiny edible member of the legume family is often forgotten when it comes time to make hearty chilis, soups, and stews. But recipe developer Catherine Brookes of Blue Sky Eating is about to raise the profile of the humble lentil with her recipe for lentil chili. This meal is "packed with flavor and ready to serve in just 30 minutes," she tells Health Digest.  

"I love making this chili for a simple weeknight dinner," Brookes explains. "With veggies, protein, and some rice on the side, you've got a complete balanced meal that's full of goodness. The lentils add a unique texture and flavor, and make this classic dish vegan-friendly." Who's ready to explore this vastly under-utilized legume?

Gather your ingredients for lentil chili

Brookes' recipe for lentil chili gets its plant-based protein from red lentils, of which you'll need 1 cup, and kidney beans, of which you'll need a 14.1-ounce can, drained and rinsed. In terms of fresh produce, you'll need 1 white onion, 1 red bell pepper, and 3 cloves garlic. You'll also need a 14.1-ounce can of chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, and 1 ¼ cups vegetable stock. In terms of spices and seasonings, you'll need 1 teaspoon chili powder blend, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Prep the onions, pepper, and garlic for sautéing

The white onion needs to be roughly chopped, as does the red bell pepper. To chop the onion, cut it in half, then in half again, and so on, until you have it in ¼-inch chunks. For the bell pepper, slice off the stem, then slice the pepper in half, and scrape away the pith. Then slice the pepper into strips before cross-sectioning the strips into ¼-inch chunks. Lastly, you'll need to crush the garlic. To do so, you can either chop it finely or use a garlic press.

Season and sauté your veggies

Take the fruits of your prepping labor and turn them into a deeply-flavored chili base. Start by grabbing a generously-sized skillet and placing it over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and wait for the oil to start to shimmer. Then toss in your chopped onions and peppers. Stir occasionally at first, and more often as the veggies soften, which should take about 5 minutes. Then, add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Stir constantly for another 2 minutes.

Add the remaining lentil chili ingredients

After the chili base has come together, it's time to add the remaining ingredients. Start by adding the chopped tomatoes (including the juices). Then fill the tomato can halfway with water, and pour it in, too. Then, add in the lentils, the kidney beans, and the stock, and "give everything a good stir," as Brookes says. 

Allow this mixture to come to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer, and leave it to cook — covered — for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste. 

Now, your red lentil chili is ready. Serve it with rice, and if desired, garnish it with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges for an extra tangy addition.

Lentil Chili Recipe
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Take advantage of all the health benefits of lentils by whipping up a delicious and easy lentil chili recipe. It will be ready in just 30 minutes.
Prep Time
Cook Time
lentil chili with rice and parsley
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 14.1-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 14.1-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional Ingredients
  • rice, for serving
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • lime wedges, for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion and pepper on a medium setting until softened — about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and paprika, and fry for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, then fill the can about halfway with water and pour this in, too.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients and give everything a good stir.
  5. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and leave to cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Serve with rice, fresh coriander, and lime wedges, if desired.
Calories per Serving 336
Total Fat 5.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 56.3 g
Dietary Fiber 13.5 g
Total Sugars 8.6 g
Sodium 912.5 mg
Protein 19.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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