Making vegan chili can be a challenge. There are purists who say chili is not chili without the beef and they are tough critics to please. You want to make sure that the flavour of the spices is what shines through. The lentils and beans will add enough texture and protein that the beef will be all but forgotten.
Since finishing my 12 day detox last week, I’ve been conscious of trying to maintain that veggie intake. With butternut squash dominating the produce at the grocery store, I thought what better veggie to add to my chili? A little sweetness to cut through that heat. This just might work. I picked the most obscene squash I could find ( 😉 ) and was off and running.
After sautéing the veggies I like to add the spices and let them get a bit toasty.
After adding the lentils, tomatoes and broth, let it all enjoy a nice simmer.
Meanwhile, onto the squash. To give my chili a nice edge, I thought giving it a roast in the oven instead of cooking it along with the liquids might just do the trick. Sprinkling the chopped squash with a few chili flakes added some zip. By the time a nice crust forms on your butternut squash, the lentils in the pot have had a chance to cook. It’s perfect timing.
This chili is definitely different but we really enjoyed the balanced taste. Topping the bowls with cheese and chives is strongly recommended. 🙂 And can you say filling? Between the lentil and the beans you have all the protein bases covered. What better for meatless Monday or maybe to warm your bones on a wintery night.
Like this one particular evening last week.
This was the view from my kitchen window:
Brrrr …. Chilly!
Or should I say … Chili … 😉
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- ½ large onion diced
- 1 cup diced carrots about 1 large carrot
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small butternut squash cut into half inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- ½ cup crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 1 cup rinsed lentils
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups broth
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- ½ tbsp cinnamon
- ½ tbsp smoked paprika
- pinch cayenne optional
- 2 tsp chili flakes
- 1 can beans I used kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- sea salt & pepper to taste
- shredded vegan cheese and green onions for garnish
Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium low heat. Sauté your onion and carrots until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, for another minute, until fragrant. Add all the spices, except the chili flakes, and cook for another minutes, stirring frequently as not to burn
Stir in the crushed tomatoes, and then add the lentils, water, and broth. Stir it all well and bring to a boil. Lower heat,cover and simmer on low until lentils are cooked through, about 45 minutes
Meanwhile, heat your oven to 400 and spread your cubed butter nut squash onto a lined baking sheet. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, chili flakes, sea salt & pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure nothing is burning
Stir beans into the chili pot and let heat through for about 5 minutes then, gently stir in the roasted squash. Add sea salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with shredded cheese and green onions if desired