This vegan red lentil chili is quick and easy to prepare, full of flavour and easy to customize with your favourite veggies and toppings! There is no oil in this recipe for my fat-free vegan friends!
Before I was vegan I rarely cooked lentils. OMG, I didn’t know what I was missing! They’re so versatile, hearty and healthy, and you all think so too! This Spanish-style vegan lentil stew is one of the most popular recipes on the blog and I’ve recently discovered that lentils are great in this smoky lentil Bolognese sauce.
A few weeks ago I asked you all on The Stingy Vegan Facebook page what recipes you’d like to see on the blog. Several requests came through for recipes with red lentils. Great idea! Red and yellow lentils have a delicious earthy flavour and are quick to cook in less than 30 minutes (no need to presoak).
While I love red lentils in dal, I wanted to come up with something different. It’s been cloudy and rainy for the last few days here so it seemed like a great time for a hearty, warming red lentil chili.
Chilies fall into that great category of “open your fridge and pull out whatever you find inside to cook for dinner”. Seriously, you can add whatever you like to this recipe: carrots, corn, sweet potato, leafy greens, zucchini, more beans, etc. Choose whichever toppings appeal to you: green onion, cilantro, avocado, red onion, cashew sour cream, fresh lime juice. Serve with or without tortilla chips on the side. Do whatever you want!
The key to making a great red lentil chili is the spices. For the classic chili flavour you definitely want to used smoked paprika (or liquid smoke), cumin and oregano. Maple syrup adds a sweet note and chili powder a little spice. If you really like spice, go ahead and add hot sauce and/or jalapeño peppers.
Once you’ve assembled all your ingredients, it’s just a question of throwing it all in a pot (another great one-pot meal!) and letting it simmer for about 30 minutes or so until the lentils are soft. That’s all you need for this great quick and easy vegan red lentil chili!
Red Lentil Chili
- 1 onion diced - $0.13
- 6 cloves of garlic minced - $0.48
- 1 red pepper diced - $0.69
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste - $0.40
- 2 bay leaves - $0.30
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano - $0.12
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin - $0.20
- 2 teaspoons chili powder - $0.20
- 3 teaspoons smoked paprika - $0.30
- A large can (780 grams / 27.5 oz) whole or diced tomatoes - $0.88
- 1 cup (215 grams) red lentils rinsed - $1.25
- A large jar (570 grams / 20 oz) kidney beans drained and rinsed - $1.10
- 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable stock - $0.24
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or sub brown sugar - $0.94
- 1 teaspoon salt - $0.03
- Pepper to taste - $0.03
- Lime slices to serve - $0.21
- Optional toppings: cilantro, jalapeños, hot sauce, diced avocado, green or red onion, cashew sour cream
- Sautee the onion and garlic in a medium-sized pot with a splash of water over medium-high heat (you can use oil if you prefer). Once soft add the red pepper and cook for a few minutes to soften.
- Once most of the water has evaporated, add the tomato paste, herbs and spices and stir for about 30 seconds to release the flavours of the spices.
- Add the tomatoes (if using whole, break them up with your spoon), lentils, beans and vegetable stock. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Allow the chili to simmer very gently until the lentils are soft – about 30 minutes. If too much liquid evaporates, add a touch more stock or water. If it’s too liquidy once the lentils are cooked, uncover and allow it to reduce.
- Finally, stir through the maple syrup, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary, adding more smoky, spice or sweet to your taste.
- Serve with fresh lime to squeeze over and your choice of toppings.
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