While many chili recipes require slow cooking alongside a surplus of stirring, this vegan lentil chili recipe from Yumna Jawad, food blogger and recipe developer behind Feel Good Foodie, makes use of your all-powerful Instant Pot for a faster, simpler cooking process. Her recipe also leverages protein- and fiber-filled lentils and kidney beans, which not only do a fabulous job of soaking up the flavor imparted by the spices in the chili, but are also great for your overall health.
"Hearty, warming, and so easy to make, this vegan lentil chili is the perfect weeknight family meal," says Jawad. "It's loaded with fresh and healthy ingredients, plus it’s a great dump and go Instant Pot recipe that’s ready to serve in less than 30 minutes." Seriously, what's not to love? "Lentils make a wonderful substitute for meat in many vegetarian meals like chili. They are packed full of fiber and when eaten with whole grains, they can provide a complete source of protein. Feel free to switch the type of lentils used," Jawad adds.
Whatever form of lentils you choose to include in your chili, know that their health benefits are bountiful. Lentils are full of B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. They're also a great source of iron, which is often scare in largely vegan or vegetarian diets. The high fiber content of lentils helps to encourage healthy and regular bowel activity, as well as the development of good-for-you gut bacteria. And thanks to the phytochemicals contained in lentils, the pulse can help protect you from chronic conditions like heart disease. Kidney beans are similarly laudable when it comes to their health benefits. They're packed with protein, which makes bean-based chilis especially nourishing on long, cold days when you're craving hearty comfort food. Moreover, kidney beans are a great source of fiber and prebiotics, which help to promote a healthy gut.
Aside from the A+ nutritional makeup of this chili, the real draw may just be its convenience factor. In fact, Jawad notes that making the chili ahead of time will actually help develop the depth of flavor—a godsend for the busy holiday season. "This vegan lentil chili is a great option for meal prep, and, like all chilis, it tastes even better the next day when those flavors have had time to develop. Let your chili cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. It will keep well in the fridge for four to five days. You can reheat your chili on the stovetop to heat through, or in a microwave for three minutes, stirring halfway," Jawad says. Whether you’re looking for a quick solution for a weeknight dinner or love to meal prep for weeks in advance, this is undoubtedly the healthy fall recipe for you.
Vegan lentil chili recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1 ½ cup green lentils rinsed
½ cup red lentils rinsed
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with chili seasonings
1 15 ounce can red kidney beans rinsed
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup optional
Cilantro leaves for serving
Diced avocados for serving
1. Press Sauté button on the Instant Pot and add olive oil. Once oil is heated, add the chopped onion and stir for 1 minute. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add in the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine all ingredients together. Press Off/Cancel to turn off Sauté function.
2. Place the lid on and move the valve to sealing. Press Beans/Chili and set the timer to 12 minutes. You’ll notice the Instant Pot will start to come to pressure first and then the timer will begin. It can take 8-10 minutes to come to pressure.
3. When the cook time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick release for any remaining pressure. Carefully open and remove the lid.
4. Serve with fresh cilantro and cubed avocados and any other chili toppings, if desired.
Storing this chili (if you’re lucky enough to have any left over) is straightforward—as Jawad mentioned, it’ll keep in your fridge in an airtight container for up to five days, and can be easily reheated either on the stovetop or microwave. If you’re planning on keeping your chili around for longer, throw it in freezer bags or another freezer-safe vessel for up to six months.
By the way, if you don't own an Instant Pot, no sweat. "You can easily make this lentil chili on the stovetop, it will just take a bit longer," Jawad says. "Saute the garlic and onions in a pot with the oil, then add in the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Bring the chili to a boil and then let it simmer for 50 minutes to an hour until the lentils are cooked." How simple is that?
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