Vegetarian Lentil Chili

Phil’s Vegetarian Lentil Chili

I was inspired to make this after reading Willi’s recipe at  I took her basic recipe and adjusted it to be more to my liking.  I made sure to honor the spirit of it by keeping it vegetarian (at least one of the spirits).  Next time I will try it using fresh vegetables that I fire roast myself, but it’s nice to know you can throw together ingredients from your pantry.  The total cost for the entire pot of chili was under $5 for raw ingredients (spices were already on hand and some ingredients were organic, so cost a little more).

1 pound lentils, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped (go ½ if you like less)
1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted tomatoes (or two cups stewed tomatoes) finely diced
1 can (4 oz.) green chiles (or ½ cup chopped fire roasted chiles) finely diced
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste (more or less depending on desired thickness)
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 teaspoons chile powder (up to 4 tsp to taste)
2 teaspoons cumin (up to 4 tsp to taste)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon course ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne
5 dashes of chipotle tabasco (to taste)
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (for flavor and aroma)

Combine lentils, broth and water in a large pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes partially covered.  Watch closely for water level, add in small increments if needed to keep lentils in water while cooking.

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Then, add the tomatoes, chiles, chile powder, cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix the lentils and onion/tomato/peppers mix. Add the tomato paste to desired thickness.  Add the liquid smoke, and stir in.  Taste.  This is where I added more chili powder (+2 tsp) and cumin(+2 tsp) to kick it up a notch (BAM!).  Add the chipotle tabasco to taste (for me that was 5 healthy dashes).  Simmer 20 to 30 minutes more, or until the lentils are tender. Add a bit more water if the lentils become too thick.

Serve with rice if desired.

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