Nothing makes me crave warm and spicy food like the chill of fall. This past week has finally brought that weather, so I’m reaching for soups and stews regularly. While my Three Bean Chili is an easy go-to recipe for this weather, sometimes I want that same flavor and heartiness with a creamy texture. This red lentil chili is everything you imagine it to be… plus, it’s vegan and gluten free, and will please everyone!
Health Benefits of Lentils
In addition to red, there are also green, yellow and black lentils, which have different textures for different recipes. Lentils are a staple in my pantry for their nutrient density, providing protein, fiber and plenty of iron (perfect for athletes!). As a plant based protein source, lentils also provide an excellent texture that can replace or be blended with meat. Often, when choosing less animal proteins, athletes may be concerned with iron content, but lentils provide plenty. Additionally, something animal proteins can’t offer is fiber. Lentils provide both soluble and insoluble fiber, with types that benefit the gut microbiome.
Typically I cooking with green lentils for their versatility, and higher protein content. They’re a star in my lentil stuffing, tacos, and even lentil loaf! But red lentils provide similar nutrients with a less fibrous texture when cooked. So, to achieve the chili I crave with this creamy texture, red lentils are perfect!
While spicy food is coveted in my home, I realize that may not be the case for everyone. The red bell pepper and corn cut the spiciness of the cayenne, paprika and chili naturally, but if you really want to tone it down, just leave the cayenne out all together!
I do want to share some more tips for the ingredients and prep instructions below
- It’s highly recommended to cook those lentils while you’re making something else ahead of time to cut down on prep time of the chili. In my house, we’ll do this while making breakfast on Sunday or while cooking a different meal some other time since they really just require time on the stove.
- The Trader Joe’s low-sodium hearty vegetable broth is my #1 and has been for years. When they’re out, or I don’t have time to make it there, I’m always disappointed with the flavor of other brands I buy, and I really think I may have tried them all!
- Even if you’re only cooking for one or two, I recommend making this full recipe versus cutting in half. It’s too easy to pack for lunch or freeze for later.
- If you don’t have nutritional yeast, don’t sweat it. You can blend 1/2 cup cashews in a bullet blender and add that instead, or if you’re body is A-okay with dairy, add some grated parmigianno reggiano.
So, what do you prefer?
Creamy soups, brothy soups, or hearty textured stews and chilis?
Creamy Red Lentil Chili
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1½ cups frozen corn
- 4 cups red lentils, cooked from dry
- 1 quart low sodium vegetable broth
- ½ tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1⅓ tbsp chili powder
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- Heat the oil over low-medium in a large stockpot.
- Add onions, stir and cover for roughly 5 minutes.
- Add the peppers and corn, stir again and cover for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add your lentils and the broth, stirring well until the liquid is incorporated.
- Next, add all of the spices, stir well, cover and let simmer for 5 minutes minimum (the longer it simmers the more the flavor will develop, and liquid will reduce if you like a thicker soup).
- Turn off the heat and blend with an immersion blender until creamy. Alternatively, you can carefully transfer the contents into a food processor or high quality blender to make creamy.
- Finally, stir in the nutritional yeast, and serve.