Lentil Chili

When the snow is falling outside all I feel like making are comforting meals that can easily be eaten on the couch while I am wrapped up in my favorite blanket. Soup and chili are one of my favorites meals this time of year. They are so warm, filling and usually healthy.

This simple weeknight friendly chili recipe uses lentils instead of beans for a quick comforting meal. It also has an unexpected ingredient…chocolate! The chocolate adds an unexpected depth and richness to this hearty chili. It can easily be adapted to be a vegetarian recipe by substituting the bacon for olive oil. Do you eat lentils? If not, you really should! Lentils are one of the healthiest foods around. They are high in protein, cholesterol free, virtually fat-free, and low in calories. They are also budget-friendly, high in folate, fiber and a great source of iron. This hearty chili takes only an hour to make and is a great way to brighten up a snowy winter evening.

Lentil Chili

Yield: 8 servings (1 ¼ cups per serving/ 229 calories)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


2 strips bacon, diced (or 2 tablespoons of olive oil)
2 cups onion diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
3 cups V-8 or tomato juice
3 cups hot water
2 cups brown lentils, rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chips
1 lime, juiced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate;set aside.
Sweat the onions, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic in the bacon drippings (or 2 tablespoons of olive oil) until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and coriander; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, V-8, water and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.
Stir in chocolate until it melts, 2-3 minutes. Add the lime juice and bacon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish each serving with sour cream and avocado.

Recipe Notes:
Be sure to pick through your lentils carefully, removing any dirt and stones before adding to the chili.
To make this soup vegetarian, skip the bacon and use the olive oil.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (1 ¼ cups): 229 calories, 3g total fat (1 g sat), 3mg chol, 405 sodium, 39g carbs, 7g fiber, 14g protein

Source: Cuisine at Home, October 2010

One Year Ago: S’More Granola Bars 

27 Responses to “Lentil Chili”

  1. #
    gladsy — January 19, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

    How can this possibly be vegetarian with Bacon in it. Are you suggesting a faux bacon?

    • Christina replied: — January 24th, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

      No faux bacon here! 😉 I suggested in the recipe that if you want to make this recipe vegetarian you can use olive oil instead of the bacon.

  2. #
    Bluejellybeans — January 19, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

    This recipe sounds and looks delicious. Never thought of mixing chocolate and lentils.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. #
    Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide — January 19, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

    Oh I love this take on chili and those avocados too. I’ve never used lentils for chili and make it a lot.

  4. #
    Caroline — January 19, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

    Now that’s one good looking bowl of soup! Really wish I could eat that for lunch today. Huge fan of lentils. 🙂

  5. #
    Gabriela Rodiles — January 19, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

    Great post! Love the info about lentils and the pictures are beautiful. I will be passing this post along. Looking forward to making this recipe soon!

  6. #
    Chica Andaluza — January 19, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

    Oh gorgeous. I am sitting on the sofa with my blanket, but my bowl of chili lentils hasn´t arrived yet….!

  7. #
    Judy — January 19, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

    I like this idea, especially topping it with avocado. This is a keeper.

  8. #
    Michael Ann — January 19, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

    what a great idea!! I love lentils too. I don’t make lentil soup often and this recipe looks easier than the traditional lentil soup. Thanks!

  9. #
    Karen — January 19, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

    I can’t wait to try this. You have a lot of yummy stuff in there and it looks like pure comfort food.

  10. #
    ChgoJohn — January 19, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    This has been my Winter of the Lentil, having made 2 very large batches of lentil soup already. Now, thanks to you, I’ll be buying them a 3rd time so that I can make this chili. It sounds great!

  11. #
    Eliot — January 19, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

    That avocado looks wonderful as a garnish. I really need to cook more with lentils.

  12. #
    Nancy — January 19, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

    These are absolutely beautiful pictures! Another great post. This lentil chili sounds perfect for the frigid weather right now.

  13. #
    hotlyspiced — January 20, 2012 @ 3:03 am

    Your soup looks tasty and delicious. I just love the look of your avocado. It is so perfect and unblemished and the perfect accompaniment to chilli.

  14. #
    Jennifer (Delicieux) — January 20, 2012 @ 3:22 am

    Mmmm this looks so good!!! I love a bowl of chili. Always so comforting. I usually make mine with beans but I love the idea of using lentils.

  15. #
    mydanishkitchen — January 20, 2012 @ 3:44 am

    I just made some chili myself, never occurred to me to add bacon but that sounds really delicious. Perfect dish for this time of year 🙂

  16. #
    The Teenage Taste — January 20, 2012 @ 6:23 am

    Wow, Christina! You just read my mind. I’ve been craving a good bean soup like whoa and you delivered! Thanks!

  17. #
    The Orange Bee — January 21, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    Great idea! Love the fresh avocado topping! We like lentils so I’ll need to bookmark this.

  18. #
    Laura — January 22, 2012 @ 6:50 am

    This is a perfect soup for a snowy football filled day. I think I might try to make this for dinner tonight. Love the avocado topping!

    • Laura replied: — January 22nd, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

      So I made this tonight and we loved it! Thank you for giving us a new chili recipe to love. I may make it for the Super Bowl too!

      • Christina replied: — February 2nd, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

        Thank you so much for letting me know how the chili turned out! I am so glad that you enjoyed it! 🙂

  19. #
    Holley — January 22, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

    I just made this and I’m in LOVE!!!! It’s soooooooooooo good! Thank you!

    • Christina replied: — February 2nd, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

      I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed the chili Holley! 😀

  20. #
    Kelly — January 26, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    What a great chili recipe and your photos are fabulous!! Saving this for sure! 🙂

  21. #
    Maggie @ Kitchie Coo — January 31, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

    This looks truly delightful! I’ve made a meat chili with cocoa powder in it and it was delicious! I love lentils so much and would certainly go crazy over this delightful chili!

  22. #
    Hotly Spiced — September 24, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

    That’s such a great looking chilli and I love how this is a vegetarian version. And yes, this sort of meal is just perfect as the nights become cooler. xx

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