Smoky Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

Smoky Lentil Chili recipe

Lentil chili is deliciously offbeat, especially with the addition of sweet potato. Smoky spices, intended for grilling, are readily available in the spice section of supermarkets, and add a bold but not overly hot flavor to the stew. I like to serve this with fresh greens, steamed or sautéed and a simple slaw-style salad. Stone-ground tortilla chips and some salsa are also welcome!

Serves: 8

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups raw brown or green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed (or peeled)
    and diced or grated
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 15- to 16-ounce can salt-free diced tomatoes, undrained (try fire-roasted)
  • 1 to 2 small hot chili peppers, such as jalapeño,
    (or use poblano for a milder effect), seeded and minced
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons good-quality chili powder, or to taste
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons mesquite or BBQ seasoning, or to taste (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnishes (any, all, or none):

  • Vegan sour cream (homemade or purchased)
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
  • Thinly sliced scallions

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden.

Add the lentils and 6 cups water. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro and salt. There should be enough liquid in the pot to not quite cover the ingredients, so if need be, add a little more water.

Bring to a slow boil once again, then turn down the heat and continue to simmer gently until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro, then season with salt and pepper. If time allows, let the chili stand off the heat for an hour or more before serving to allow the flavors to meld. This step is highly recommended.

Just before serving, taste to see if you’d like to boost the seasonings, and add a little more water if need be, but let the texture remain nice and thick. Pass around desired garnishes for embellishing individual servings.

Note: These smoky, flavorful spices are available in the spice section of most well-stocked supermarkets, shelved with grilling seasonings. They’re well worth a place on your spice rack!

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