I always make my chili mild-to-medium spicy, and then I serve it with a bunch of different toppings so that people can customize the heat level to their taste. I usually do chopped jalapeños, pickled banana peppers, store-bought salsa, and whatever assortment of hot sauces I cull from our refrigerator door.
And of course, don’t forget the cheese, avocado, sour cream, and cilantro….
This chili is gluten-free and vegan (before the cheese and sour cream on top, of course). It’s also so delicious it’s sure to convert even the most die-hard Texas beef chili fan.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 16 ounces dried black lentils (about 2 1/4 cups)
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Diced avocado
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Hot sauce, salsa, and chopped hot peppers
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and stir until the vegetables are coated and the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils, tomatoes, and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Transfer 3 cups of the lentils and liquid to a blender and blend until smooth (you can also do this in a bowl with an immersion blender). Stir the pureed lentil mixture back into the pot. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve the chili in bowls and pass the toppings on the side.
- The chili will thicken as it cools, so don't worry if it's a bit soupy when you first take it off the heat.
- Nutrition information is for chili without the toppings.