It’s been one of those weekends. You know, the ones when you completely let go of any concept of clean eating and just pig the f*ck out? Mine consisted of bread pudding, Chick-Fil-A, and pizza. Yup, one of those weekends. Luckily, it’s never too late to get back on the right track. So, let’s start here with this hearty sweet potato lentil chili!
Even if you’re a die-hard carnivore, you’ll love this healthy take on vegetarian chili. When you use the right ingredients, you won’t even miss the meat!
I found this recipe in an Eat This, Not That magazine, adapted it slightly, and converted it from pressure cooker to stovetop. I also took some notes from Julie’s recipe over at the Simple Veganista.
What you’ll love about this meal:
- Mildly spicy
- Slightly sweet
- Super simple
Last week, we made a decadent Vegan Pumpkin Lentil Soup. Since you probably have some leftover lentils in your cupboard, let’s make out-of-this-world chili!
What you’ll need for sweet potato lentil chili
This recipe is full of pantry staples! You probably already have most of the ingredients sitting in your cupboard right now. And if you don’t, you can easily find them at any major grocer for less than five dollars.
- Onions & garlic: The foundation of flavor in almost every recipe.
- Vegetables: Bell pepper, golden corn, and, of course, sweet potato
- Spices & seasonings: Smoked paprika, cumin, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, and onion powder add flavor
- Vegetable broth: It’s vegetarian and much more flavorful than water
- Legumes: Lentils and kidney beans make up for the absence of meat.
- Tomatoes: Both fire roasted and tomato paste add umami flavor (side note: don’t you just love saying “umami”?”
How to make sweet potato lentil chili
- Set a large pot to medium heat; add olive oil and allow it to warm. Saute onions, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Stir in salt, seasonings, and spices. Toast for about a minute. Add lentils, beans, sweet potatoes, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. Stir, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and cover the pot about three quarters of the way. Simmer for about 40-50 minutes. Taste and adjust salt/seasonings/spices to your liking. Within last 10 minutes of cooking, add the corn. When the sweet potatoes and lentils are soft, the chili is the ready.
There, easy as pie…or chili?
How to make chili more flavorful
Really, it’s all in the spices, but I do have two secret ingredients. A tiny bit of unsalted butter, a little less than two tablespoons, stirred into the simmering chili for smoothness and more depth of flavor. And half a tablespoon of granulated sugar to enhance the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. Some also suggest adding balsamic vinegar or molasses.
Tips for making perfect chili
- Make sure all ingredients are prepped before you start cooking: Because scrambling to cut up more vegetables while your garlic is sauteing is always a stressful situation.
- Use a large enough pot: Another stressful situation? Having to move your barely-cooked chili from one pot to another.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as you go: The measurement amounts of seasoning and spices are basically just a guideline. As I taste what I’m cooking, I always end up adding more until I get the flavor I want. Cooking is very personal, so keep your own tastes and preferences in mind.
What to serve with chili
Toppings take your dish from “ok, this is pretty good chili” to “OMG, this is SO good, I can’t stop, can I have seconds???”
Here are a few tasty things to serve or top your chili with:
- Tortilla chips
- Fresh avocado
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Shredded cheese
- Cilantro or scallions
Storing and reheating leftover chili
Keep leftover chili in a container in the refrigerator for up to three days, or freeze for up to six months. Reheat in the microwave. This chili is great for meal prep!
A bonus just for you…
Sweet Potato Lentil Chili
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more as desired
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper plus more as desired
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder plus more as desired
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika plus more as desired
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper plus more as desired
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin plus more as desired
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves plus more as desired
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed with or without skin
- 1 cup green lentils, rinsed and sorted
- 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar optional
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold optional
- 15 ounce can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
- On the stovetop, bring a large pot to medium heat. Add olive oil and allow it to warm, then add onions. Saute onions until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, stir in garlic and cook for about a minute more. Stir in salt, black pepper, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, and dried oregano. Toast the seasonings/spices for about a minute before adding the bell pepper, sweet potatoes, lentils, kidney beans, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. Stir and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover about 3/4 of the way (the pot will be slightly ajar) and simmer for 40-50 minutes. While the chili simmers, taste and adjust salt/seasonings/spices to your liking. Stir in butter and sugar, if using. Within last 10 minutes of cooking, add the corn and stir to combine. The chili is ready when the sweet potatoes and lentils are soft.
- Ladle chili into bowls. Serve warm with toppings of your choice.
- Adapted from the “Sweet Potato-Quinoa Chili” recipe from Eat This, Not That magazine.
- Nutrition facts are an estimate.