Simple Lentil Chili

I’ve been posting a lot of heavy recipes recently: breads (like this one and this one), cream soups (like this one), and cookies.  And I know that it doesn’t make those New Year’s Resolutions that everyone is still trying to hold onto any easier, especially now that their shininess has worn off (my New Year’s resolution is to blog more, so far I have maintained my average of one post per week. Resolution fail).  But this recipe should help to get you back on the “healthy eating” bandwagon with its lack of added fat, and if you make it with vegetarian stock, it’s vegan!

I like cold weather because it leaves me with an urge for soups, stews, and chili (so. much. chili.)  which is great, BF loves all of these things – for the most part they fill us up quite well and are inexpensive, not to mention perfect snuggle-up eats.  Winter in New England always makes me wonder what it would be like to be a hermit permanantly; cozying up to my stove for the better part of the day and whiling away my evenings watching tv/playing video games with BF.  Wouldn’t that be the life?  Instead, I work a day job and have to fight icy sidewalks when I walk to and from work every day hoping that today isn’t going to be the day I have to walk to work in a blizzard (which has happened twice so far this winter).  This chili is an ode to staying warm after walking in a snowstorm to get in the door and collapse relieved on the floor in a puddle of snow boots and wet coats.  This is the reason I am excited to go home and eat.

There aren’t any pictures for this post (not from lack of trying mind you).  I’ve made this chili twice in the past two weeks and each time have been so excited about eating it I forgot to take pictures.  So there you go.  It’s kind of unpretty colors anyway, so no loss!  But it’s delicious, hearty and warming without any of that eating-lots-of-butter guilt; also it’s lentils so it’s filling and fast!

Simple Lentil Chili
Adapted (pretty heavily) from the Whole Foods website
Note: The WF version of this soup is vegetarian and wonderfully healthy, but I thought it was pretty bland so I added a bunch of extra spices (see below).  Also, if your stock is not homemade it may be pretty salty already so taste your chili before adding salt.

1 bag brown lentils (the dried ones that are in abundance at the supermarket)
1 onion, chopped medium-fine
1 sweet red pepper, chopped medium fine
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced (more if you like things garlic-y)
2 cans of diced tomatoes (I really like the fire-roasted ones!)
8 cups of broth or stock (I used chicken because I had it on hand, but whatever you have will work well)
2-3 Tbs Chili powder, to taste
1-2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp worcestershire sauce (optional)
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste or soy sauce (trust me)

Bring 1 cup of stock or broth to a boil over medium-high heat and add the onions and garlic.  Cook them in the broth until the onions are translucent; about 3 minutes.  Add the red pepper and cook it until tender, another minute or so.  Add the cans of tomatoes, the rest of the broth, and the spices (chili powder, cumin, and worcestershire sauce) and bring the whole pot to a low boil (another 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally so the vegetables don’t stick.  Once your broth has reached a steady boil, add the lentils, stir to incorporate, and cover the pot.  Turn the heat down to medium low or low and simmer the whole thing, stirring about three times until the lentils are tender and plumped up (20-25 mins).  Try the chili now; if it needs some salt add a couple dashes of soy sauce or 1/4 tsp of salt.  If you need salt allow the soup to simmer for another 5-10 mins for the flavors to merge.  If you didn’t add salt take the chili off the heat.  Serve this chili topped with great gobs of sour cream, a sprinkling of chopped cilantro (if you like it), and some grated cheddar cheese.  It is happy in a bowl.  Real life.  Also, this dish is marvelously low-fat; well, that is, if you use low fat sour cream and cheese (though I never get low fat anything!).

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