Lentils I have Known

I don’t think I really discovered a taste for lentils until I moved back to Texas and acquired a Moosewood Cookbook—a gift from my vegetarian sister. There are a wealth of lentil-based recipes in there, and I found that I enjoyed them baked, pureed, sautéed—just about any way but raw. I came across a recipe– a contest entry by Jo Irvine of Utah — for a large batch of lentil chili and knew I’d make it during our first cold snap. This recipe makes about 10 cups of chili. If you have a soup swap on your horizon, or need to bring someone a meal, this could be your recipe. There is very little prep involved, and everyone in our house, at least, gives it a thumbs up. It easily adapts to become a vegan chili.

Vegetarian Lentil Chili

Great for: big-batch meals

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes


4 14.5-oz cans dices tomatoes

1 15-oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 12-oz package frozen chopped peppers and 1 12-oz package frozen chopped onions

(My store doesn’t have this so I subbed the same weight in bags of combined frozen peppers and onions and chopped them further)

2C dry red lentils, rinsed and drained

1/4Cchili powder

(I reduced this to 2T, then added back 1T after it was done so it wouldn’t be too spicy for the kids. It wasn’t)

2T garlic powder

1 8-oz can tomato sauce

1 6-oz can tomato sauce

1/8t black pepper

2C shredded Cheddar or Mexican Cheese (4 oz)—or remove it to make it a Vegan meal


  1. In an 8-qt Dutch oven, combine undrained tomatoes, rinsed and drained beans, 3C water, peppers, onions, dry lentils, chili powder, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer, covered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in tomato sauce and paste, and black pepper; heat through.

Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips (optional).

Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days or divide into freezer containers and freeze for up to 3 months.


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