With meaty mushrooms, lentils, and kidney beans forming the base for this two lentil chili, you have a delicious plant-protein packed dinner. Ready in about half an hour, it’s also a speedy weeknight option.
This is a flexible, base recipe that works just about year round. As much as I like sweet potato chili, sweet potatoes are only in season for a relatively short period, and it’s nice to have a good vegan chili recipe that doesn’t need extra vegetables.
Serve the chili with spelt naan, sweet potato flatbread (gluten-free) or zucchini cornbread as pictured to round it out and make a full meal. Top with avocado and pickled onions as pictured if you’d like.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
This is a great basic vegetarian chili that you can change up as needed. Leave out the corn, add other vegetables like zucchini, whatever you have on hand.
- It’s a one pot recipe: everything is cooked in the same pot, no need for extra dishes – just a cutting board and a large pot.
- It’s protein packed: with about 19 grams of protein per serving (and 15 mg of iron) this is a stick to your ribs meal.
- It stores well: like most chili recipes, it keeps well and tastes just as good on the second or third day after cooking.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Mushrooms: if you hate mushrooms, they could be replaced with a store bought veg ground round. I haven’t tried this but it should be fine.
- Spices: adapt the spices to suit your personal preference. Omit the hot pepper if needed.
- Tomatoes: an equal amount of fresh tomatoes can be subbed for canned.
- Water or broth: I always use broth for this recipe because it has so much going for it – there’s no need for the extra flavour boost. If you want to, though, you can use vegetable broth.
- Lentils: brown, black, or green lentils can all be used interchangeably. If you don’t have red lentils, they can also be replaced with another lentil type, but the textural change is nice.
Step by Step
1. Cook mushrooms: cook the mushrooms over medium heat until the water has evaporated, then sauté the onions.
2. Add garlic: cook the garlic for a minute, then stir in the spices.
3. Add tomatoes: stir in the diced tomatoes, being careful of splatters.
4. Add water: and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and kidney beans.
5. Simmer: cook for about 20 minutes, or until the brown lentils are tender.
6. Add corn: stir in the corn and taste, seasoning as needed. Serve hot.
It is key to cook the mushrooms first. The goal is to sear, rather than steam, so avoid stirring as much as possible. This results in the best flavour and texture.
You can add a little more liquid if you prefer a more soup-like chili. Any kind of broth can be used in place of water – mushroom broth will add a more intense mushroom flavour.
How to Store
Storage: leftovers can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days. The chili may thicken during this time – simply thin with a splash of water when reheating and season if needed.
Freezing: this freezes very well. Keep in airtight containers in the freezer for up to six months. Thaw in the refrigerator when needed and reheat as usual.
- No need to soak: while I would usually soak any lentils before cooking, it isn’t necessary for this recipe. If you are using soaked lentils, the water can be reduced slightly.
- Do a fine chop: the mushrooms should form the base of the chili without it feeling like a mushroom-centric dish. Very finely chopping is key.
- Salt as needed: a teaspoon of salt is a guideline, as I season fairly heavily. I use at least double what’s listed in the card but it should be to your taste.
More Chili and Stew Recipes
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Hearty Lentil Chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 300 grams mushrooms very finely chopped
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes optional, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 400 grams canned diced tomatoes
- 300 ml water
- 200 grams cooked or canned kidney beans rinsed
- 100 grams red lentils
- 100 grams brown lentils
- 300 grams frozen corn
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil. Stir in the mushrooms and cook, stirring as infrequently as possible, for about 5 minutes, or until golden.1 tablespoon olive oil, 300 grams mushrooms
- Add the onion and cook until transluscent, another 2-3 minutes.1 small onion
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, pepper flakes, and cinnamon.3 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the water and cover, increasing the heat to bring to a boil.400 grams canned diced tomatoes, 300 ml water
- Once it's reached a rolling boil, add the beans, red lentils, and brown lentils. Cover again and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the brown lentils are tender.200 grams cooked or canned kidney beans, 100 grams red lentils, 100 grams brown lentils
- Once the lentils are cooked, add the corn and turn off the heat. Taste and season if needed. Serve with avocado and pickled onions if desired.300 grams frozen corn