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Lentil chili recipe

This recipe is both vegan and gluten-free, packed with nutrition and tons of flavor. You don’t have to be vegan or have celiac disease to enjoy this dish. This recipe is loaded with bell peppers — one of my favorite vegetables. I adapted it from Ina Garten’s Chicken Chili Recipe, which you can find on I halve the recipe and still get six generous servings.


  • ¾ cup dried brown or green lentils
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. dried red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. dried basil (or 2 tsp. fresh, minced)
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes


  1. Rinse and strain lentils. Cover with at least 3 cups of water and bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook 20-30 minutes, or until soft. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot and cook onions over medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
  3. Stir in bell peppers and seasonings, chili powder through basil, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add crushed tomatoes (and juice from can) and bring to a simmer, cooking at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add prepared lentils and cook 5-10 additional minutes, until peppers are soft. Taste and add more spices if needed.

Makes 6 servings.

Approximate nutrition information, per serving: 175 calories, 2 grams fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams protein

Feel free to add your favorite toppings — I like this with some reduced-fat shredded cheese, diced avocado, or plain Greek yogurt. When I want it extra spicy, I add a drizzle of Sriracha.

Do you like your chili spicy or mild?