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Vegetarian Chili
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5 from 4 votes

Vegetarian Chili

This vegetarian chili is a healthy and immensely satisfying alternative to meat-based varieties. Red lentils provide a protein and fiber rich chili that is thick and savory, and a snap to make. As an added bonus, it’s even better as leftovers and freezes beautifully.    
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 351kcal
Author: Chula King


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper seeds discarded, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste (See Tip 1)
  • 1 3/4 cup water (See Tip 2) plus more as needed
  • 3/4 cup dry red lentils rinsed in cold water and drained
  • 15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounce can of corn, drained and rinsed


  • Heat olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, red pepper, salt and pepper. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add jalapeño and garlic; stir to combine.
  • Add 2 Tablespoons chili powder, 1 Tablespoon ground cumin, paprika, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and water; stir to combine. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.
  • Once boiling, add lentils and reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, or until lentils are mostly tender. If necessary, add more water if the mixture is looking too dry.
  • Add black beans, corn, remaining 1 Tablespoon chili powder and remaining 1 Tablespoon cumin. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until onions and peppers are tender.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more chili powder or cumin for smokiness, salt for saltiness, or a little brown sugar to balance the heat and draw out the other flavors. Serve as is, or garnished with shredded cheese, fresh jalapeño, sliced green onion, diced tomatoes, etc.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 4 days and in the freezer up to 1 month. Yield: 6 servings. (See Tip 3)


  1. Rather than tomato paste, you can use an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce.
  2. If using tomato sauce, reduce the water to 1 1/2 cups.
  3. This makes incredible leftovers. For an added variety use in a taco salad. Yum!


Calories: 351kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 718mg | Potassium: 1183mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 2540IU | Vitamin C: 62.4mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 7.3mg