lentil chili

Impromptu Lentil Chili

Although I’m not a football fan, it seems to be a pattern that some of my best recipe ideas (like this lentil chili) are discovered around the time of super bowl Sunday’s.  (Still trying to determine if that’s a coincidence!)

This time it was an impromptu lentil chili recipe that I actually whipped up earlier in the week.  We had recently done a “deep-clean” of our pantry at the start of the new year, and found what felt like a lifetime supply of bags of lentils & beans & rice (oh my!)…

Plant based protein in lentils

Lentils are one of my favorite plant-based sources of protein in the legume category. Plant based proteins aren’t “complete” (providing all 9 essential amino acids); however, legumes provide all the “complementary” amino acids that we don’t get from other plant-based food sources like grains, nuts and seeds. 

Another thing I love about lentils is that they’re also loaded with all kinds of minerals, fiber and even some complex carbs… so they help sustain us and keep energy levels stable throughout the day!

Lentils and gut health

Cooking things like rice or lentils with bone broth is an added bonus, and not for everyone but great for some who are on a leaky gut healing journey!

***(Disclaimer:  despite the fad diet claims out there, if you have severe digestive issues or chronic loose stools I would advise you NOT to consume bone broth as it is high in glutamine and will likely worsen your condition… a very damaged gut lining does NOT always benefit from bone broth!!!)***

  • If you’re new to the world of gut healing and bone broth, you may want to check out this article I wrote for the Wholistic Health Alliance in Massachusetts back in 2015, or you may also like to try this all-purpose homemade chicken stock which is great for anyone that is in the early or not-so-early stages of bettering their digestion/immunity!

 Meal planning 101

Don’t get me wrong – it’s nice to know we are stocked up on rice and beans in case of an apocalypse, but having all this dry & canned stuff sitting unused in our pantry is otherwise not of much value to us. 

So our goal for 2020 was to start using more of what we have before we continue to get more groceries.  Not only is it healthy for the budget but it keeps things more organized and “minimalist” in the kitchen. 😉

The thing about being stocked up on carbs and proteins is that you need more veggies and fats to keep things balanced.  So the past few weeks we’ve been doing just that. 

The lentil chili recipe

There are really infinite ways to make a lentil chili but this one turned out fabulous! Which is why I felt compelled to share it with you. 😉 

If you have issues with any of these ingredients you can always swap them out for others and just stick with the same template.

Let me know if you get the chance to try it!


lentil chili

Lentil Chili Recipe

Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT
A simple, timeless, warm and cozy one-pot meal for a "chili" evening!
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings 8 people


  • Knife and cutting board for chopping veggies
  • Large sauté pan for stovetop
  • Large stockpot with cover, ladle


  • 1 lb bag of lentils (OR 4 standard size cans of already-cooked lentils)
  • 8 cups broth or water (only if cooking lentils from the bag)
  • 3 peppers (I did one red, one yellow, and one green) washed and chopped
  • 2 medium or large onions chopped
  • 1 standard size container of button mushrooms sliced
  • 24-32 oz. jar of marinara sauce of choice (We used Rao's’)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil for sautéing


  • If using raw lentils: cook lentils according to instructions on package (use broth of choice, or water).
  • In a separate pan, start sautéing the peppers and onions in oil of choice on low-medium heat.
  • Add mushrooms once the peppers and onions are 75% cooked (almost translucent).
  • Combine cooked or canned lentils with cooked veggies and marinara sauce in a large stock pot.
  • Cover and simmer on low for about 10-20 minutes until it's reached your desired texture. Stir occasionally and then enjoy!


Additional tips:

Serve on its own, enjoy a little bowl of this stuff as a snack or a couple heaping few bowls of it as more of a meal or as a side dish with some other goodies of choice!
Optional: we add on some fresh grated raw cheddar cheese for an extra kick. 🙂
Keyword lentil chili
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!