Meaty Vegan Lentil Chili Con Chili

Meaty Vegan Lentil Chili Con Chili

With a homemade seasoning blend that packs in complex sweet heat, this chili is hearty and flavorful enough to please even the most die-hard carnivores.

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Serves: 6
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Cacao melds with chilis and coconut sugar to create the simple seasoning blend that gives depth of flavor and heat to this vegan chili recipe from the Unbelievably Vegan cookbook. Serve at game day and let your guests customize their bowl with a toppings bar for the ultimate bowl of vegan chili. 

What you need:

For the spice blend: 
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder 
2 teaspoons fine pink salt
1 teaspoon unsweetened cacao powder
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper

For the chili: 
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 yellow onion, diced 
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced 
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked green or brown lentils 
3 cups cooked black beans or kidney beans
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons liquid aminos
1 bay leaf

For topping: 
Diced fresh tomatoes
Vegan sour cream 
Chopped fresh cilantro
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Diced avocado

What you do:

  1. For the spice blend, in a small bowl, combine coconut sugar, paprika, chili powder, salt, cacao powder, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, and black pepper. Mix well to combine and set aside.
  2. For the chili, heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add oil. Once oil is hot and shimmering, add onion, bell pepper, and celery and sauté until onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, or just until fragrant. Add tomato paste and spice blend. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until tomato paste begins to darken slightly, then add broth. Stir, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. 
  3. Add lentils, beans, vinegar, liquid aminos, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until thickened. Remove and discard bay leaf.
  4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with toppings as desired.

Photo credit: Charity Morgan