Monday, February 1, 2016

Lentil Chili

Twice in the past few weeks, I have used French lentils, also known as Le Puy lentils, in place of ground beef. Both times I was more than pleasantly pleased. Those little blue spheres of goodness really impress! Of course you already know that lentils pack a wallop of nutrition in every spoonful. More protein than beef, I think..... well, for certain I know that lentils are easier to digest, have loads of fiber, and not a bit of cholesterol. They have tons of iron, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Plus, if you pair them with foods that are rich in vitamin C, that really boosts the iron absorption. But, surely you knew all that.  

So at first, the idea of lentil chili seemed like a major commitment in the legume department - you know, beans upon beans and then throw in some lentils. I resisted for many years. But as you know, when you try something for the first time, and it turns out that you actually *like* it, you wonder what all the fuss was about. I combined a few recipes to create this one. The spice combination is perfect as is. This chili is great for lunch and it freezes very well. 

Don't wait. Try this chili. Isn't there a big football game coming up soon where you could serve this? Adorn with the usual suspects: sour cream, grated cheese, avocado, minced onion, cilantro, tortilla chips.

Here's what you need:
1 C French lentils, rinsed and drained (I highly recommend French lentils for this soup)
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 chopped onion
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t chipotle hot sauce or 1/2 t chipotle powder
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t oregano
2 x 14 oz.cans diced tomatoes
4 C tomato juice
2 x 15 oz. cans red kidney beans

Here's what you do:
Cook the lentils in lots of fresh water. Watch them closely, stir them once in a while, simmer gently until done - about 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, saute onion, peppers and garlic in the oil until the veg is soft, but not brown. add the cumin, paprika, chipotle hot sauce, chili powder and oregano. Stir to incorporate. Add remaining ingredients and allow chili to simmer for about 30-60 minutes. I always allow my soups to sit, covered, for a long time on the stove after the cooking time, to let the flavors really meld together. 

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