Lentil Chili with Black Beans
I’ve never really known what went into my mom’s various legume stews, but she’s fond of making creative use of all kinds of beans, saying variety is the basis of a healthy diet.
I’ve finally come to the realization that many hip and trendy ingredients are things our moms and grandmas regularly cooked with. The old is new again and nothing is really new. Food trends have brought us back to the basics, and humble legumes like soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas are on point in dishes like this chili recipe and chickpea curry.
Let’s talk about those lentils. Lentils deserve a regular space in the pantry, as this humble legume is highly nutritious, high in fiber, and a great source of protein. Lentils are easy to prepare and absolutely delicious in soups.
What are Lentils, Exactly?
Old school grains and legumes like quinoa and lentils have been making a comeback, which is a great thing for building variety into our pantry. Explore them in recipes like this chili and quinoa sweet potato salad.
Lentils are legumes, which are plants that bear fruit that grow into pods. Because of this, they’re nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and an excellent source of protein – a whopping 26% protein in dry lentils.
Which kind of lentils are best?
For lentil chili and lentil soup, we recommend brown or green lentils, both of which keep their shape better than red lentils during cooking. Brown and green lentils are mild in flavor, though green lentils may remain a bit firmer in texture after cooking. Red and green lentils are great for Lentil Hummus.
How to Cook Lentils in Chili or soup
Because lentils are tiny sized legumes, they can be cooked directly in liquids without any prior soak time. They’re the perfect candidate for stews, chilis, and soups like our easy Lemon Lentil Soup Recipe.
Simply rinse dry lentils in a colander, drain, and add to your stews, soups, and chili. Lentils generally become tender with 30 minutes of cook time.
Note that lentils tend to soak up quite a bit of liquid during cooking, so we add extra broth into our chilis and soups when lentils are included. If your lentil chili or soup becomes too thick, simply add a bit more broth to loosen the consistency.
Lentil Chili Ingredients and Variations
This lentil chili recipe is packed with spices and seasonings such as cumin, smoked paprika, and oregano, with all the flavors working together to create a boldly flavorful meatless chili your family will love. Though we wouldn’t alter the herbs and spices too much, there are some ingredient variations that would work well.
Ingredient variations include:
- Try using garbanzo beans or white beans
- Canned hominy is a fun and tasty substitution for corn kernels.
- Use freshly seeded/chopped sweet bell peppers instead of the carrots
- Vegetable, chicken, or beef broth can all be used interchangeably
- Try adding chopped cilantro or chives for garnish
Chili Recipes to Try:
- Healthy Chicken Chili in 30 Minutes
- Slow Cooker Chili with Black Beans and Corn
- Healthy Fall Pumpkin Chili Recipe
- Butternut Squash Chili
- White Chicken Chili with Quinoa
Try this Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash, Too:
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Lentil Black Bean Chili
- 3 TB olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cups baby carrots, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-4 tsp chili powder, depending on desired heat level
- 1 TB smoked paprika
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp allspice
- 2 tsp cumin
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus extra
- 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and drained
- 3 TB tomato paste
- 2 14-oz cans fire roasted tomatoes, with juices
- 2 cans, 15-oz black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can, 15-oz sweet corn kernels, drained
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional: sliced avocado, shredded sharp cheddar, tortilla chips for serving
- In a Dutch oven or heavy large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, and garlic; stir 1-2 min. Add chili powder, smoked paprika, sugar, allspice, and cumin. Stir and cook 1 min. Add broth, lentils, tomato paste, and fire-roasted tomatoes with juices. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer 30 min.
- Add black beans, corn, and cover. Continue simmer 20 more min or until lentils are tender and mixture has thickened. If lentils have soaked up most of the liquid, add a bit more broth for your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, and your choice of garnishes. Sweet cornbread is delicious with this chili.